tbs_1-sht_teaserIf you remember anything about the financial crisis (or credit crunch, to give it its friendly, breakfast cereal type name) you’ll remember that it was all the fault of those nasty bankers. You’ll maybe not remember exactly why it was the fault of the nasty bankers and maybe, actually, it’s played out for so long that you’re a little bored with blaming the nasty bankers or it’s got to a point where they’ve achieved some kind of cartoon villainy about the whole affair and they were only doing their jobs so they weren’t all that nasty, and isn’t it all the fault of immigrants anyway?

The Big Short, the new film by Adam McKay, based on the Michael Lewis bestseller, is betting your memory has become a little fuzzy over the last seven or eight years, if you ever really knew anything about it in the first place. And it sets out to do something about that.

This is a really dull topic, full of unsympathetic characters, lots of maths, so perhaps the biggest highlight of the movie is how interesting and fun it is to watch. And it does it in a rather cute way by frequently breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge that what we’re watching isn’t interesting and then it drafts in the likes of Selina Gomez playing blackjack to explain how betting for or against someone else’s CDO works. It also explains what a CDO is.

The movie even has the good grace to let you know when its dramatic license differs from the truth. More tellingly, it points out the parts that happened exactly as it’s just laid out, no matter how unbelievable that is.

The performances across the board are great but particular mention has to go to Steve Carell and Brad Pitt who are certainly worthy of a few nominations in awards season. The real star of the show, however, is director Adam McKay (Anchorman) who co-wrote the screenplay with Charles Randolph. This is a laugh out loud movie about the collapse of the global economy, for goodness sake. It’s a thoroughly entertaining movie about how we all got screwed over to a greater or lesser degree and how it’s taken years to recover. That in itself is a remarkable achievement.

But the movie also remembers at vital moments, that this is a true story and while it is partly about the corruption and downright idiocy within the banking system and how a select few became stinking rich as a consequence, on a more micro level it’s about people losing homes, losing jobs, losing everything they’ve ever worked for and while this is personified by a sole character living in his car with his kids, there’s a certain poignancy that makes the impact all the more effective.

Go see it. Go get angry. Try to remember where the blame really lies.

Just a quick note to say that Emma’s Verruca went live, so to speak, over at Fiction at Work this morning. There have been lots of great pieces published there recently and a few familiar names so do feel free to take some time and check it out.

I’m taking a well=earned break from Writers’ Group and playing Modern Warfare 2 to announce that the inaugural edition of Vanilla has been released with downloadable and hard copy content to follow. I’m not telling you this just to be nice to them (although they are lovely people) but, as you may recall, you’ll find my story — The Air Is Getting Thinner — betwixt its electronic pages.

Have a read of the fine work on offer and I hope you enjoy.

My wife, Julie, has recently started her own blog. Expect more art, less swearing and absolutely no mention of Alloa Athletic Football Club. Have a looky here.

Howard Goodall wrote the theme tunes for QI and Blackadder and if you listen to either, you can tell he has a favoured scale and key. Yes, you can.

Oh, and happy new year.

Edited to add:

My new year’s resolution — not to play six hours of pool with Tommy Fitzpatrick again. Four hours, fine. Five hours, sure. Six hours, no fucking way. I don’t know whether it’s a good idea to write this, but since I last saw Tommy, I can barely bend over without being in considerable pain. Less is more. Pool has become a fit man’s game.