Back in September I featured a trailer for the a new film about the US financial crisis, The Big Short. On the evidence of the trailer, I wondered what direction the film would take: 'Will it look for a villain (greedy bankers), which is easy and emotionally satisfying for a movie audience, or will it demand more of the viewer by looking at the systemic and human weaknesses that bring about such disasters?'

The movie has now been released, and in his review, economist Tyler Cowen addresses that very question: 'There is no central villain, none whatsoever. The filmmakers succeed in showing how the collective actions of many, operating together, can give rise to structural problems and systemic risk. And yet the story remains suspenseful.' Cowen goes on to say: 'what the movie does well — namely to condense amazing amounts of economics and finance into what is likely to prove a popular and critically acclaimed film — is path breaking, and more important than its shortcomings.'

what the movie does well — namely to condense amazing amounts of economics and finance into what is likely to prove a popular and critically acclaimed film — is path breaking, and more important than its shortcomings. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.Q4igiyac.dpuf
what the movie does well — namely to condense amazing amounts of economics and finance into what is likely to prove a popular and critically acclaimed film — is path breaking, and more important than its shortcomings. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.Q4igiyac.dpuf

The Big Short is also rating well over on Rotten Tomatoes. I'll be looking out for it over the summer break.

Maybe I was wrong to worry. Sure, the director of The Big Short, Adam McKay, is better known for comedies like Anchorman, but comedy is harder than drama. And McKay also has form on this topic. His 2010 comedy The Other Guys (under-rated, I reckon) has a clear financial-crisis subtext, culminating in an illuminating infographic sequence over the closing credits:

There is no central villain, none whatsoever. The filmmakers succeed in showing how the collective actions of many, operating together, can give rise to structural problems and systemic risk. And yet the story remains suspenseful. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.Q4igiyac.dpuf
There is no central villain, none whatsoever. The filmmakers succeed in showing how the collective actions of many, operating together, can give rise to structural problems and systemic risk. And yet the story remains suspenseful. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.Q4igiyac.dpuf
There is no central villain, none whatsoever. The filmmakers succeed in showing how the collective actions of many, operating together, can give rise to structural problems and systemic risk. And yet the story remains suspenseful. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.Q4igiyac.dpuf