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Friday, 22 February 2013

Margin Call: What the hell happened in 2008?

Please go and watch Margin call. I just wanted that to be the first thing people read, just in case they don’t bother reading the whole post.

Margin Call is this gem of a film I found late last year, from a director (J.C. Chandor) I’ve never heard of and a cast which is nothing short of stellar.

The film is about the early stages of the 2008 financial breakdown and what a Wall-Street investment bank does to protect its organisation. At least that’s what I think it’s about because truth be told, I don’t think I fully understand the film.

And I guess that’s the point. What happened in 2008 is complicated. At least it’s too complicated for simpletons like myself to understand.

What happened in 2008 is the reason why so many people are suffering and struggling today, but ask me to specifically tell you why and the only answer I’d be able to give you is: “credit crunch.” Ask me what “credit crunch” means and you’re fresh out of luck.

Oh, and “sub prime mortgages” which is what I think this film is also about.

So, in the film, Sylar, I mean Zachary Quinto, discovers that the firm, which looks a lot like Lehman Brothers, holds a lot of valueless assets which threatens to destroy the company. I think. So his boss, the villain from the Da Vinci Code, tells his boss, Keyzer Soze, who tells his boss, Jean from the Mentalist, who tells everybody’s boss, Scar from the Lion King – and he finally makes the decision to dump these poisonous assets which is more than likely going to kill the whole market. Hence, the start of the financial crisis in 2008.

I think.

The brilliance of this film is seeing how the modern day Sith lords (bankers) live. A lot of dialogue rings true to my mind; bankers thought that they ruled the world, that they were the reason any good existed in our average and dreary lives.

There is a chilling bit of dialogue between the scary albino monk from the Da Vinci Code (I think his name could be Paul Bettany):

“People wanna live like this in their cars and big fuckin' houses they can't even pay for, then you're necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is cause we got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off and then the whole world gets really fuckin' fair really fuckin' quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don't. They want what we have to give them but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. Well, thats more hypocrisy than I'm willing to swallow, so fuck em. Fuck normal people.”

What’s chilling about this part of the film is how believable it is. On every angle. Its believable that a banker who was directly involved in the meltdown would have said this and believed it. And on some level, there is a hint of truth in what he says. We, the normal people, didn’t bat an eyelid when things were all gravy, so do we really have the right to have the moral high ground now?

Anyway, like I’ve said, I don’t understand all of this film, which is chilling because it highlights that I don’t understand why the earth almost ceased to exist not so long ago. I wonder if I am the only person in this position?