Remember that Saturday Night Live commercial for “Shimmer” and how Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin quarreled about whether it was a floor wax or a dessert topping? They could quarrel just as much about Joy, the latest film by director/screen writer David O. Russell starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Bizarro hedge-fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale) creates credit-default swaps and hangs tight when investors in his fund see their money disappearing before the bubble bursts. Deutsche Bank trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) and de facto partner Mark Baum (Steve Carell) figure out the risk to the whole economy that this bubble created, thanks to collateralized debt obligations that have grown much larger than the thing being securitized. Boulder, Colorado garage investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley (John Magaro and Finn Whitrock), who get in on the action thanks to former Smartest Guy in the Room Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), decide to blow the whistle when a disgusted Pitt reminds them that their cashing in requires the economy to collapse. The economy collapses. Nobody goes to jail.
The new Will Smith film Concussion has a montage in which the lead character, a Pittsburgh coroner named Dr. Bennet Omalu, absorbs all the scientific knowledge about a subject. It lasts two minutes. Which is fine—the actual process of reading up scientific journals would make an unbearably tedious film. One of the articles we see Omalu leafing through in a flash says something like, “Long-Term Brain Damage in Boxers.”