Monday, October 31, 2011
Margin Call - Movie Review
The movie starts with an investment bank (reportedly based on Lehman Brothers) doing a round of layoffs. The first casualty is Stanley Tucci, who works in the risk management department. On his way out the door, he hands a file to one of his co-workers, played by Zachary Quinto, and asks him to look at it. He warns Quinto to 'be careful'.
Quinto finishes the work and basically figures out that the company is in deep shit, like two weeks ago. This causes the entire company to scramble with how they intend on dealing with it. That's about as far as I can go without telling you the whole story. As I stated before, the events of the movie take place over the course of a single day, so there aren't a lot of twists to this.
I would imagine that finance or investment geeks might understand what's going on in Margin Call more than the layperson. It's funny, because characters are constantly saying stuff like, "I don't know what those numbers/screens mean", or, "Just explain it to me like a normal person." There's a great scene with Jeremy Irons where he asks Quinto to explain it to him like he's a 12-year-old or a golden retriever. It just goes illustrate that some of the people involved understand this stuff about as much as anyone else. The point is that Margin Call makes this all interesting even though you might not have a clue as to what is going on.
Margin Call is all about the actors and performances. It has a great cast, maybe not as strong as say The Ides of March, but it's still very strong. The main star is Kevin Spacey, and once again, I really liked him here. Paul Bettany finally plays a role that doesn't involve him killing monters and reminded me that he's a pretty good actor in his own right. Quinto, Tucci, Simon Baker and Demi Moore are also all good. Finally, Jeremy Irons shows up and makes me wish he was more movies. The second he shows up, you're like, "Here's the big boss!"
Again, I don't understand all of this stuff, so I don't know how accurate or real it is. Margin Call felt very real though. Hell, I thought I was going to get fired by the end of the movie. One of the things I liked about it is that I didn't feel like it tried to assign blame to anyone in particular. I didn't walk out of this angry like I did after watching something like Inside Job. You're just watching these people deal with the crisis as it starts. The movie manages to make the characters sympathetic despite that fact that you should probably hate a lot of these people.
You have to credit the writer and director, J.C. Chandor. Here's another first time writer/director. I don't know what it is, but I sure seem to be watching a lot of good movies this year that feature first time writers or directors. It's a good sign for the future of movies that there are still people out there that aren't complete hacks. Anyway, Chandor got great performances out of everyone and managed to tell a story that might have been boring in someone else's hands.
As this is a smaller, independent film, you may not have chance to watch this in the theaters. It's only playing in a few locations. However, it is currently available on Blockbuster streaming and a few other On-Demand carriers. I highly recommend checking this out if you want to watch a smart, well-acted film.
On another note, I saw this at The Vine, so once the movie was over, I was able to walk over to their other screen and catch the last three quarters of the Niner game. I ordered some food and had a few beers. You can't beat that! It turned into a pretty good Sunday!