Chasing Madoff (2011/Cohen Media/MPI DVD)/Margin
Call (2011/Lionsgate DVD)/Too Big To
Fail (2012/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD)
& C Sound: C+/B-/B- & C+ Extras: B/B/C+ Films: B/B+/B
continue our look at the few releases that have the boldness to cover what
really happened during The 2008 Financial Crisis. The story is so complex and unbelievable that
it takes at least five releases, four documentaries and two dramas (the housing
bubble part of Michael Moore’s Capitalism:
A Love Story applies here; see link below) have done a great job, but I bet
this will just be for starters and there is sadly more to come as the neglect,
irresponsibility and abuse that started in the 1980s is finally setting in.
have the remarkable Jeff Prosserman documentary Chasing Madoff (2011) which tells us about the many years that led
to federal authorities to finally arrest Bernard L. Madoff for conducting one
of the biggest ponzi schemes and frauds in all financial history, conning
people out of literally billions of dollars, including celebrities, big
businessmen, banks, investors and the government, though more than a few people
knew what was going on and allowed it to continue until the whole financial
system nearly collapsed.
turns out that some great people with a conscious started to notice years
before that Madoff was up to something, was being oddly standoffish and would
get suddenly mad, belligerent and angry when anyone even lightly and politely
asked about how he did it or even for any advice or tips on how to
succeed. Too bad he was light years away
from a real financial genius like Warren Buffett. Instead, he was following the fraudulent
Enron model of money that was not there.
years, Harry Markopolus, Frank Casey, Neil Chelo, Gaytri Kachroo and Michael
Ocrant were finding out what no one seemed to know or some very powerful people
may have wanted to cover up since they were just making so much money. This is an extremely well shot, told and
explained tale of how these fine people were isolated and eventually very
concerned for the country and even for their own lives about the truth they
knew that was the “big lie” and best kept ugly secret of its time until the
calamity that followed occurred.
course, Madoff was only one of the giant reasons awful things happened and he
deserves 100% discredit for what he did, but there is so much more to this and
other who are as equally guilty for other big reasons. Yet, he is the only one going to jail?
very brave, honest documentary filmmaking and one of the best documentaries of
the year, but you have not heard of it yet because there are many who are
afraid you might and then you might start to think about what is really going
on. I have been recommending it since I
first saw it and consider it must-see viewing for everyone. Cohen Media and MPI deserve a big thanks for
getting it distributed.
include an Alternative Ending (but not one where people did not loose their
money, though if some people had just listened…), Trailer, fine Deleted Scenes
(I wish some had stayed) and a feature length Director’s Commentary track worth
hearing after watching this compelling work.
raved about it months ago on our home page in during awards season in an essay
entitled The Most Underrated Motion
Picture Of 2011: J.C. Candor’s “Margin Call”: An Instant American Classic You Must See!, I was still hoping
more people would see this film and not enough have. To explain the film, on Blu-ray and in the
DVD edition we are covering here, what follows is most of the body of my rave
about the film:
a gem shows up that does just that (think Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down (1992) with Michael
Douglas for instance) and along with big studios pushing their prime releases
for the season, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have produced, backed and
cleverly distributed a bold film about the financial crisis that not enough
people seem to want to talk about despite it affecting us all deeply as much
now as when it started. The
feature-length debut for newcomer writer/director J.C. Candor called Margin Call.
major financial institution involved in stocks and investment trading, a bunch
of mass firings quietly starts up including a veteran analyst (Stanley Tucci)
who has been working on a projection at the company that is unfinished but will
reveal a disaster to come that will send devastating ripples through the world
economy. From an amazing screenplay, no
moment is wasted in this incredible work that gives us an inside look at the
beginnings of the crisis that some smart, ambitious films did not quiet pull
off prior to this release.
impressive as its writing, directing, production and the honesty of the
situation bold portrayed is one of the best ensemble casts of the year
including Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany (along with the underrated Priest is the most undervalued actor of
the year), Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore (in her best work in years), Simon Baker,
Penn Badgley, Mary McDonnell and Co-Producer Zachary Quinto (Mr. Spock from the
revived Star Trek) all at the height
of their acting powers makes this the kind of film we used to get all the time
and that we (to say the least) do not get enough.
It is a
fantastic work that the more people see it, the more they will be talking about
it, remembering it and will stay as relevant as when it was first released,
only becoming more so as the topics dealt with continue to loom large in our
lives and in this critical election year.
I wanted to alter everyone to this great work in advance of our official
home video coverage, so don’t miss it!”
include a From The Deck: Photo Gallery,
Missed Calls moments with cast &
crew, Revolving Door: The Making Of Margin Call, more fine Deleted Scenes with
optional commentary (again, I wish some had stayed) and a feature length
Director & Producer Commentary track worth hearing after watching the film.
as impressive with its cast, Curtis Hanson’s Too Big To Fail (2012) may not be making the big statement in the
same way by placing itself in a corporation and showing us how profound the
situation got for the crisis and the country, but goes into the actual banks
and U.S. Government in how this all happened and even with some likely
extrapolation and fictionalization, really hits the nail on the head in being
an insider’s view of the disaster.
Hurt plays Henry Paulson, who was running oversight of the big banks when it
looks like one of them is in over their heads about debt and the housing bubble
about to burst. As you have seen and
heard, people bought houses they could not afford, were encouraged deliberately
to do so and when things went bad, the dealmakers tried to blame the recipients
100% despite the broken laws, deception and (here’s the best one), a crazy and hardly
known (especially when most of these people signed for said houses) action
called “robo-signing” where their contracts would be signed for them whether
they liked it or not.
heard that last one and it is not in any of these releases, but the situation
was more underhanded than you’d think.
Then as the one crisis is possibly averted, a big insurance company
(AIG) is about to teeter as well, then you add Madoff, other corporations
playing with phony financial formulas, the buying and selling of debt and the
ability of some unknown people to get rid of the only watchdog (Elliott
Spitzer, never mentioned in this film) who might have been able to stop this
and you just start to get the picture of what was going on.
is a very smart guy, though I am not a fan of most of his films like the
overrated L.A. Confidential, but did
like the underrated Wonder Boys and
believe this is as strong as any of his theatrical film releases. Like Margin
Call, we have a solid cast joining Hurt (all in fine performances)
including Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke, Billy Crudup as Timothy Geithner,
Matthew Modine as John Thain, Bill Pullman as Jamie Dimon, Dan Hedaya as Barney
Frank, a memorable James Woods, John Heard, Topher Grace, Tony Shalhoub and Ed
Asner as Warren Buffett. The rest of the
cast is as good and the script by Peter Gould based on the Andrew Ross Sorkin
book is an ace of a job.
include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, a Making Of featurette, Opening
The Vault To The Financial Crisis featurette and Timeline Of A Crisis section.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all three DVDs are all a little
softer than I would have liked and apart from this coverage, have not caught up
to the Margin Call Blu-ray, but get
that version if you have a player. Chasing Madoff deserves a Blu-ray and
should get one down the line, the sooner the better. That leaves the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfer on Too Big To
Fail, which is shot on 35mm film, but has more than its share of 1080i HDTV
news footage and some occasional style choices that hold it back, though there
are some nice shots here throughout.
DVDs have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes that are dialogue-based and
limited as you would expect from such documentary productions, but Margin Call has more a more active use
of surrounds and is the best of the three, matching the DTS-HD MA (Master
Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Too Big
To Fail Blu-ray. This also suggests
that the DTS-MA on the Margin Call
Blu-ray would outdo all on this list.
strongly recommend all three titles, but would also highly recommend you check
out these other three releases at their accompanying links on Blu-ray and DVD:
Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love
housing bubble section)
Client 9: The Rise & Fall Of
Elliott Spitzer +
Inside Job (DVD only)
- Nicholas Sheffo