On Wall Street in the reality finally overwhelmed perceptions: A crowded theater burned down with a lot of people still in their seats…. The problem wasn't that Lehman Brothers had been allowed to fail. The problem was that Lehman Brothers had been allowed to succeed.
Though the financial crisis engendered quite a few good books and documentaries, it hasn't inspired much in the way of narrative film. This is no great surprise: The cinematic opportunities inherent in credit default swaps rather pale in comparison to those of predator drones, let alone extraterrestrial cops or robots.
With his Wall Street sequel last year, Oliver Stone tried to again seize the economic zeitgeist, but it eluded his grasp. The film was at once hoary and contrived, an inflated melodrama of schemes and betrayals and motorcycle races that never conveyed the impersonal urgency of its subtitle: Among the many virtues of Margin Call , the engrossing debut feature by writer-director J.
Chandor, is its appreciation of this economic implacability. Unlike the second Wall Street or, for that matter, the first , the movie understands that financial markets aren't merely tools to be wielded for purposes nefarious or benign, but vast and evolving entities in their own right, often inscrutable even to their purported custodians.
Chandor's film is not a tale of the plots and counterplots of conniving bankers. It is a disaster movie, in which even the Masters of the Universe are running for their lives. The movie depicts two days—and the long, intervening night—at a large investment firm loosely based on Lehman Brothers.
The financial bubble is already popping, but no one has yet heard the sound it makes, with the exception of veteran risk analyst Eric Dale Stanley Tucci. Before he can warn his colleagues, however, Dale is offhandedly cashiered, in what is clearly not the firm's first round of layoffs. As he tells the duo of Ryan-Bingham-like downsizers assigned to "ease his transition": I don't see how that's a natural place to start cutting jobs.
That night, as his fellow survivors head out to toast their good fortune, Sullivan stays behind to complete the analysis Dale had begun. It is, as he soon recognizes, a harbinger of financial apocalypse. Sullivan summons his boss Paul Bettany , who summons his boss Kevin Spacey , who summons his boss Simon Baker , each fish bigger than the last, all the way up to the biggest fish in the pond: As we work our way up this food chain, one character after another seems set up as narrative foil or villain-in-waiting: Bettany's tough, crew-cutted Brit, grinding Nicorette lozenges between his teeth as if they were competitors; Spacey's mid-level exec, pining for a sick dog while inured to the human toll around him; Irons's sardonic, sepulchral CEO.
Yet with a minor exception or two, there are no white hats or black hats to be found here, merely modern-day shades of gray flannel. Chandor's film is less a portrait of individual malfeasance than of systemic, cultural failure. His characters have made their moral compromises gradually, selling off bits of themselves at a loss, piece by piece, until they find that their debts outweigh their assets and the only evident way out is to keep going.
The movie unfolds as a series of confrontations and collaborations between these characters, and though their outcomes are never much in doubt they are charged with urgency and intelligence. There are discussions of blame which runs, as ever, downhill ; bouts of lofty rationalization; and weighings of self-preservation against the public interest.
One need not be a student of the crisis to know how these turn out. When Spacey warns of creating a panic in the markets, Irons responds drily, "If you're the first one out the door, that's not called panicking.
Margin Call is perforated with sharp insights. Each ascending echelon of the bank's hierarchy has a weaker understanding of the complex financial instruments they are trading than the one beneath it. And though this is a story of people wedded to their jobs, the lone female executive Demi Moore is the only one for whom that marriage appears to be exclusive, and the consolations of family an unaffordable luxury.
The cast is uniformly and uncommonly good, even by their generally lofty standards. Spacey in particular offers his best performance in years, emerging bit by bit as the closest thing the movie has to a conscience, however muddied. And Moore has a brittle, sexless authenticity as the Only Woman in the Room. This may be her first film set in an office in which no one throws anyone else lustfully across a desk. Chandor's direction is understated but self-assured, and his script—which has more than a hint of Mamet to it—superb.
Indeed, this is the all-too-rare film that began with a screenplay and then filled in the "talent," rather than the other way around. It is also the fledgling venture of Quinto's production company, Before the Door. With luck, the Occupy Wall Street movement will offer Margin Call newfound salience, and a broader audience than it might otherwise have reached.
But whether or not this is the case, Chandor's film is among the best of the year to date, a fable of global financial calamity distilled down to an intimate microcosm of human greed and frailty. With the help of new data aggregation tech, Gerrymandering is now more precise than ever. Will the vice president—and the religious right—be rewarded for their embrace of Donald Trump?
No man can serve two masters, the Bible teaches, but Mike Pence is giving it his all. To mark this historic civic occasion, the cavernous factory where the event is being held has been transformed. Foreign leaders from across the Arab world have been warning the Trump administration of the potential for violence. It was and David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, astonished political observers when he came within striking distance of defeating incumbent Democratic U.
Bennett Johnston, earning 43 percent of the vote. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. Was it economic anxiety? Bennett Johnston, and those who just wanted to send a message to Washington. As an admiral I helped run the most powerful military on Earth, but I couldn't save my son from the scourge of opioid addiction. The last photograph of my son Jonathan was taken at the end of a new-student barbecue on the campus green at the University of Denver.
It was one of those bittersweet transitional moments. We were feeling the combination of apprehension and optimism that every parent feels when dropping off a kid at college for the first time, which was amplified by the fact that we were coming off a rocky 16 months with our son. We had moved him into his dormitory room only that morning. I remember how sharp he looked in the outfit he had selected, and his eagerness to start class and make new friends.
We were happy, relieved, and, knowing what we thought he had overcome, proud. At lunch, I asked Jonathan whether he thought he was ready for the coming school year.
Brands are aware that in a hyper-partisan climate, it can be conspicuous not to weigh in on heated debates. On Monday, President Donald Trump greatly reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah, shrinking Bears Ears by more than a million acres and cutting the size of Grand Staircase—Escalante almost in half.
I n my mids, I spent three months living in Broome, a coastal township in Western Australia famous for its moonrises, pink beaches, and pearl farms. Signs pitched by lifeguards along the beach showed a stick figure lashed by a mass of tentacles: By midday, the mercury might have drifted above degrees Fahrenheit, and still no one would dare to even dabble in the shallows of the jade ocean—corduroyed by waves—knowing that Irukandji had been detected.
Back from the shoreline, a few tourists resolutely sweated their silhouettes onto beach chairs. If the notices were plucked from the sand in the afternoon, a tense choreography would ensue. Each heat-strained person would approach the surf and make an elaborate pantomime of applying sunscreen or stretching out hamstrings, hoping not to have to be the first to get in.
Now that Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and agreed to dish on his former boss, some Trump-watchers are suggesting that impeachment may be around the corner. That may be true. But bringing impeachment charges against Trump, and actually forcing him from office, are two vastly different things.
And while the former may be more likely today than it was half a year ago, the latter is actually less likely. Since Robert Mueller became special counsel in May, the chances of the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment—and the Senate ratifying them—have probably gone down.
Among Filipino hunter-gatherers, storytelling is valued more than any other skill, and the best storytellers have the most children. Once upon a time, the sun and moon argued about who would light up the sky.
They fought, as anthropomorphic celestial bodies are meant to do, but after the moon proves to be as strong as the sun, they decide to take shifts. The sun would brighten the day, while the moon would illuminate the night. This is one of several stories told by the Agta, a group of hunter-gatherers from the Philippines.
They spend a lot of time spinning yarns to each other, and like their account of the sun and moon, many of these tales are infused with themes of cooperation and equality.
Storytelling is a universal human trait. It emerges spontaneously in childhood, and exists in all cultures thus far studied. Some specific stories have roots that stretch back for around 6, years. Among the Agta, her team found evidence that stories—and the very act of storytelling —arose partly as a way of cementing social bonds, and instilling an ethic of cooperation.
Conservatives worry that their leaders will cave to Democrats if the next spending deadline lands right before the holidays. But their protest could result in a government shutdown at the end of this week. The holidays are a joyous time of year just about anywhere except in the halls of the United States Capitol. Yet in waging this fight over the next deadline, the Freedom Caucus could cause Congress to miss the one staring it in the face: The past 12 months have been eventful, to say the least.
Today, we present the Top 25 News Photos of —and starting tomorrow we will be presenting part one of a more comprehensive series, Warning, some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content. There are an estimated 2, serial killers living at large in the U. Now, a computer can help find them. Magazine Current issue All issues Manage subscription Subscribe. Subscribe Subscribe Give a Gift.
Most Popular Presented by. Later in the day, some private companies shared their feelings about public lands. Powerful images from the past 12 very eventful months. Haunting archival footage complicates the legacy of a monument in Georgia.More...