the fresh films reviews

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Too Big to Fail (2011) (TV)

Curtis Hanson
Winter's Bone
100 minutes
Anne Rosellini
Alix Madigan
Debra Granik
Anne Rosellini

Cast includes:

Jim Wilkinson (Treasury Department) Topher Grace
Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve) Paul Giamatti
Timothy Geithner (President of the New York Federal Reserve) Billy Crudup
Henry Paulson (Secretary of the Treasury) William Hurt
Dick Fuld (Lehman Brothers) James Woods
Joe Gregory (Lehman Brothers) John Heard
Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan-Chase) Bill Pullman
Vikram Pandit (Citigroup) Ajay Mehta
John Mack (Morgan Stanley) Tony Shalhoub
John Thain (Merrill Lynch) Matthew Modine
Bob Willumstad (AIG) Tom Mason
Warren Buffett Edward Asner
Michele Davis (Treasury Department PR) Cynthia Nixon
Dan Jester (Treasury Department) Joey Slotnick
Chris Flowers (Goldman Sachs) Michael O'Keefe
Erin Callan Amy Carlson
Christopher Cox (Securities and Exchange Commission) Peter Hermann
Barney Frank (Massachusetts Congressman) Dan Hedaya
Wendy Paulson Kathy Baker
Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs) Evan Handler
Neel Kashkari (Treasury Department) Ayad Akhtar



Too Big to Fail is an HBO produced TV movie about the weeks leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown in the United States, and how representatives for the Treasury Department worked day and night to find solutions for the country's largest financial institutions, and then try to convince their leaders that they needed to accept those solutions. It is a well-written, fast-moving and rather technical film with great production values and an all-star cast. There is no doubt that the power balance between TV dramas and cinematic releases is in serious change.

The director is Curtis Hanson, and it seems he was concerned with making his film as unpolitical as he could. The good thing about this is that the result is quite unbiased when it comes to the political scale. It is clear that the filmmakers wanted to scrutinize systems and structures rather than politics. The downside is that the film has ended up feeling a little naive. Most of the people portrayed in this film come off as quite noble, something which compared to last year's documentary Inside Job is more than a little lenient. I choose to think that the reason for this is that director Curtis Hanson isn't out to scapegoat or point fingers at anyone with his film, but rather to in a compelling and balanced way tell the story about what happened (or almost happened) over the course of a few weeks back in 2008. He paints a terrifying picture of the fragility of the financial system once the different parties start mistrusting one another, and this is the real effect of Too Big to Fail. As nations and entire economies once again face enormous economic problems these days, the gloomy message Too Big to Fail tells is that this will all happen again.

The script is adapted by Peter Gould from the book by Andrew Ross Sorkin, who works as a reporter with The New York Times. His knowledge about the state of affairs during the meltdown certainly seems comprehensive based on this account, but of course, a dissection such as this will be coloured by the point of view. As directed by Curtis Hanson, Too Big to Fail is a tidy and not overly critical account which is both entertaining and compelling. And the acting is solid, with William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup and James Woods all giving fine performances.

Copyright 01.01.2012 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang