Sunday, May 22, 2011

HBO's "Too Big to Fail": 98 Minutes Long, Seems 100 Minutes Longer

By Hank Stuever, Washington Post movie critic

HBO Films — the Emmy-collecting, moviemaking arm of the cable network — seems to prefer projects that all sound like costume dramas for news junkies who mostly consume media with “New York” in the title: The New Yorker, New York magazine and, of course, the great gray lady herself, where one imagines an HBO movie deal is probably as good as any Pulitzer.

In that spirit, “Too Big to Fail” is the HBO movie version of New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin’s essential book of the same name, a play-by-play retelling of the 2008 economic meltdown. It premieres Monday night to the expectation that, when the right talents are convened, something as complicated as the mortgage bust, the Lehman Brothers collapse and the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program can be respun into grippingly dramatic gold

Not quite so. Though it tries valiantly to walk us through its narrative gravitas, “Too Big to Fail” is as daunting and depressing as its subject, a dreaded homework assignment for an audience who will mainly nod in assent when its real-life characters (fictional versions of Neel Kashkari, Henry Paulson, Warren Buffett) quip and soliloquize on the audacity of greedy investors and deluded homebuyers alike. The film is 98 minutes long and seems about 100 minutes longer; it is a denunciation of things already denounced to no lasting avail...

Read the rest here.

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