Adam McKay’s The Big Short opens with an image of a Salomon Brothers’ bond trading floor in the late seventies. At that time in history, the voiceover explains, working at the bond department of a bank was “downright comatose.” Bankers were no different from accountants. That perception drastically changes with the invention of the mortgage-backed security, a financial innovation that renders bonds sexy. The images on the screen fast-forward thirty years, and suddenly, we see people lining up at a job fair during the 2008 economic crisis. The boring trading floors of the seventies somehow precipitated a financial catastrophe. The voiceover asks, how did this happen? How did a bunch of stodgy traders cause a global meltdown? And what, in heck, is a mortgage-backed security?
Rocky Balboa is back—but not as a boxer. He coaches Adonis Johnson, played by Michael B. Jordan, in Ryan Coogler’s Creed. Adonis is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed—the heavyweight champion from the first few installments of the Rocky series who eventually dies in the ring. Adonis grows up parentless, living in a juvenile correctional facility where he inherits his father’s fighting spirit. He is later rescued by his father’s wife, Mary Anne Creed, who raises him like one of her own in a wealthy enclave of L.A., keeping him far away from the brutality of the ring.
Hollywood seems to love the financial collapse of 2008 and Princeton alum Michael Lewis. In the last five years, we’ve watched Margin Call, Too Big to Fail, and Inside Job explain the complicated financial meltdown to the average moviegoer. In the last five years, we’ve also watched screenplays adapted from Michael Lewis’ books, including Moneyball and The Blind Side. The Big Short, a movie about the housing bubble collapse adapted from Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, combines both of the industry’s love affairs.
Season three of Comedy Central’s Nathan for You is now in full swing. The premise of this hilarious reality TV series is simple: comedian Nathan Fielder is a business consultant who comes up with hair-brained schemes to help actual small businesses. For instance, at the end of episode six of season three, Nathan convinces the owner of a struggling travel agency to upsell funeral services, exploiting the untapped customer base of older people. Unsurprisingly, this plan, along with most of Nathan’s creative ideas, backfires. There are still several episodes left in this season, but the initial verdict is in: the third installation is a hit.
Sequels don’t have to suck. Recent surprises like The Dark Knight and Toy Story 2 are proof that second servings can be just as good, if not better, than the first. Unfortunately, this exception does not apply to Ted 2, since this second iteration of Seth McFarlane’s talking bear does nothing to dispel the popular notion that sequels, almost always, come up short.