BANKING – CINEMATIC REALITY

Ever wondered what is real in the reel of the films portraying the fin-tech industry? No, don’t worry. Here is the story, not for one but all.

Starting with the most popular one, an American drama film, based on the 2010 book ‘The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine’ by Michael Lewis was about the financial crisis of 2007–2008 which was triggered by the United States housing bubble. Another famous movie about the late-2000s financial crisis was ‘Inside Job’, a 2010 American documentary film, directed by Charles Ferguson.

There was one which I was asked to see by my friend as it relates to the bitter truths in investment banking. That is Margin Call, a 2011 American drama film written and directed by J. C. Chandor. The principal story takes place over a 24-hour period at a large Wall Street investment bank during the initial stages of the financial crisis of 2007–08.

There was also a television movie based upon the book by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, about the leveraged buyout (LBO) of RJR Nabisco. This one was out in 1993 and was called Barbarians at the Gate.

A drama film was adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, and directed by James Foley. The film depicts two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen and how they become desperate when the corporate office sends a trainer to “motivate” them by announcing that, in one week, all except the top two salesmen will be fired. Any guesses? Yes, ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’.

Rogue Trader is a 1999 British biographical film written and directed by James Dearden. The film centers in the life of former derivatives broker Nick Leeson and the 1995 collapse of Barings Bank.

The story of an upper-class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet is the cinematic tale – Trading Places released in 1983. The storyline is often called a modern take on Mark Twain’s classic 19th-century novel The Prince and the Pauper.

The story that caught a lot of media attention is ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, based on the memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort. It recounts Belfort’s perspective on his career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm Stratton Oakmont engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street that ultimately led to his downfall. 

However, there was also a movie called ‘ Wall Street’ describing an eight-block-long street running roughly northwest to southeast from Broadway to South Street, at the East River, in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City.

Talking of the scams, one cannot forget Enron. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is a 2005 American documentary film based on the best-selling 2003 book of the same name by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, a study of one of the largest business scandals in American history. McLean and Elkind are credited as writers of the film alongside the director, Alex Gibney. The film examines the 2001 collapse of the Enron Corporation, which resulted in criminal trials for several of the company’s top executives during the ensuing Enron scandal.

There was a movie that covered a lot of topics like Wall Street’s “casino mentality”, for-profit prisons, Goldman Sachs’ influence in Washington, D.C., the poverty-level wages of many workers, the large wave of home foreclosures, corporate-owned life insurance, and the consequences of “runaway greed”. The movie was named ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’.

A drama television film first broadcast on HBO on May 23, 2011 based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s non-fiction book Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves (2009) was received well. ‘Too Big to Fail’ received 11 nominations at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

While in ‘The Bank’ movie, a maverick mathematician has devised a formula to predict the fluctuations of the stock market. However he is asked to first prove his loyalty to the “greed is good” ethos.

Many critics praised the film ‘The company men’ for telling a story that reflects the economic climate of the United States in the first decade of the 2000s. Rex Reed of The New York Observer stated the film “does a piercing job of making you feel the dehumanizing effects that losing a job can have on grown men, but it’s more truthful and devastating than that.”

Needless to tell a story, Arbitrage, as the name goes, was a worldwide box-office success and is the highest grossing “day-and-date” independently produced film of all time.

‘Floored’ is a 2009 documentary film about the people and business of the Chicago trading floors. The film focuses specifically on several Chicago floor traders who have been impacted by the electronic trading revolution and whose jobs have been threatened by the use of computers in the trading world. Directed by James Allen Smith, the film runs for 77 minutes.

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.

The most recent one is ‘Money Monster’, a 2016 American thriller film directed by Jodie Foster and written by Alan Di Fiore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden. The film stars George Clooney (who also co-produced) as Lee Gates, a TV personality who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, and who is forcefully interrogated by a grief-stricken bankrupt viewer who lost his money after a previous tip.

That’s the cinematic reality of the banking industry across time and space. If you liked the summarised stories of all, hit like and do comment.

Photo by Terje Sollie on Pexels.com

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