Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie Review: The Big Short

If all you want to know is whether or not a movie is worth watching, here it is: The Big Short is an astounding example of everything done right as all of the writing, dialog, acting, music, and directing fall together to make a well paced film that will bring out every emotion in your body and leave you tired and worn out, and you must watch this film.

For readers who want more, I can tell you that this is probably one of the best performances seen from Christian Bale, who actually became another character for me and not just another version of what we've seen in every other movie he's been in. Steve Carell's character probably doesn't fall that far from what we've seen from him before, but is emotionally captivating none the less. You get everything you expect from Ryan Gosling, a solid performance that doesn't knock it out of the park but definitely adds more to the film than many other actors would in that role. Finally, Brad Pitt delivers a solid performance that is as understated as possible. What's really impressive about the acting, is that all of these very aggressive actors are blended together perfectly to serve the great picture and pull out the meat of the story for you, and that makes every single one of them superb, even if they don't show off everything the actor is capable of, because sometimes the hardest thing for an actor to do is let the movie be bigger than they are.

That said, it's easy for actors to do great things with great material. Everything here is fantastic. Each and every character has powerful and memorable dialog to deliver as they give you a tour of the events that make up one of the most difficult times that the majority of Americans alive today have had to live through, and the mess leading up to it. The absolutely phenomenal writing oozes out of every single scene. This goes beyond good quips and great sound-bytes and emotional dialog, too. The Big Short delivers accessible and informative views about the tragic oversights and criminal negligence that culminated in the biggest financial crises in decades. More on that later, though, but it's important to say that what makes the writing in this movie shine so bright is how well it communicates the ideas it feels are important in the middle of a hurricane of ideas and information.

And absolutely all of this is pulled together just right by the directing. Adam McKay delivers a thoughtful piece that is well paces, placing your eyes and ears where they need to be to see and here want you need. He blends a tremendous cast from the top billed actors to literally everyone who spends a moment on screen to breathe life into every single concept, regardless of how challenging the ideas are.

All of the pieces of this film come together to elicit powerful emotions, pushing the viewer through fear, terror, joy, trepidation, sadness and ultimately one of the emotions that I have never truly felt from a film before: Rage. This movie should make you angry. It should inspire you to ask what the hell happened and why wasn't anyone held responsible for the events portrayed? This was less than a decade ago and there's evidence that it's all happening all over again, and no one is talking about it anymore as people are victimized from the bottom up and completely betrayed by every single system that should exist for the express purpose of serving our interest, from the evaluation of securities, the oversight of legal investments, and the outrageous conflicts of interest and finally ending on a government that did nothing but pay our money to protect the very people responsible for all of it.

This is probably the only film this year that you have to see, a year filled with nostalgia and quality film making. I highly recommend it to all, and I hope it makes a difference, even if it doesn't seem to think it will.

Life is Too Short to Make Butter

Consider this entire post a metaphor for just about everything in life. It has ideas that I feel are really important. Life is full of so much to do, it truly is impossible to do everything. However, it shouldn't be impossible to decide what to do. One of the really big traps I have personally fallen into from time to time is trying to decide what is worth doing, and this is pretty well symbolized by making butter.

You have so much to do every single day. Generally, as you get older, life is a series of increasingly open doors of things that you can do and places you can go. Your finances get freer if you've lived well, and you have access to a greater pool of resources. Your experience makes finding out how to do things you want to do more accessible. Doing things things that let you better understand the basic building blocks of all the tools you have to explore everything you want to do becomes really important. Exploring your world like that makes you better able to do what you want to do when you want to do it and more effectively, and this is where making butter comes in.

Cooking may be the most important thing for every human being to learn how to love to do. It is essential to how you live and how you enjoy your life. If you never learn how to cook, you become limited to eating what other people have made when and how it's convenient for them to make it and it is by far one of the best ways to live how you want to within any means you have available. Chefs from around the world will inform you that one of the most basic and important building blocks to cooking good food is butter.

The thing about butter is that not only is it such a fundamental ingredient to making good food, it is also incredibly easy and accessible to make. I'll just go ahead and leave a good link for how to make quality butter right here:

As I believe everyone should learn how to cook, it then can be followed that I believe everyone should make butter... once. Learning how it's made, what it can do as it's being made are both very important, and you get to enjoy a real treat that is the product of your own two hands.

After you have done all of that, though, it's time to ask the important question: Did the time I invest in this produce something that is better than anything I could have bought?

Maybe for you it might, but I chose butter for this example for a very particular reason. I greatly doubt that you will reasonably produce butter better than what you can get, readily available, for a cost in time and money that justifies what you're going to use that butter for. Your time is limited, and your money is limited, no matter how much you have of each, they're all still limited. Given that, you can better invest your time and money into other aspects of what you're cooking. 

If you have resources like time and money left over that you could have made the butter you used, you could have better invested those resources into other aspects of what you made. You could have picked a harder recipe, worked with other higher quality ingredients, pioneered new ground. You can always pioneer new ground, even if it's just new for you. That's why you should make butter once, because at that time, it's new ground for you.

But after you've made butter once? After that, it's time to pioneer new things, because if you don't, who would have the time to get to the things that no one has ever done before? Who will have the time to do the things that change the whole world, and not just your world? I'm not saying don't do it, but I want to encourage you to use it as a stepping stone to bigger things, and that means you don't have time to make butter.

But who knows? Maybe you'll find a way to make butter than anyone has ever made before, and if you do... please tell me how.
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