As far back as 1964, The Beatles sang in a movie called A Hard Day’s Night: ‘Money can’t buy me love!’ but we sure love having money. Whether we hoard it and hide it in pillowcases, dream about lying down on a bed of cold hard cash, or spend it on a dream yacht, money is often what drives us to plunge into the morning traffic. And it’s money that is the subject of many movies that have kept us fascinated with the rich and the infamous. Here are five super cool movies about money.
The Big Short (2015)
This is a star-studded film with Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt showing us how corrupt the US Mortgage market was in 2006-7 and the film shows us how the crisis simply snowballed.
Hedge Fund Manager Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale) predicted the Housing crisis and the financial crisis that followed to make money off it quietly. The film deals with investors who are fed up with the corruption in the banking system because they are too vain to change. They too pool their money and follow Burry’s predictions. The big banks think they are invincible. And as Mark Twain has said, ‘It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.’ The Big Short is on Amazon Prime Video.
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When a man who can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, and two brothers who were serving up a great meal in a small town meet, it is sort of fated that this intersection would create a business that has set foot into tough markets and won. The Golden Arches of McDonalds are the most familiar signs in the world.
The film is about Ray Croc, the founder of the world’s biggest fast food chain. Since they serve up a happy meal, you will be surprised to see the ruthlessness, the ambition and the relentless pursuit of success in the film. Michael Keaton is brilliant and you will be carried away at his ideas and innovations and be alarmed at what success can do to a person!
This makes for a great watch, especially if you are thinking of branching out on your own because your computer has the plans for the next biggest thing. As Ray says in the film, ‘Nothing in this world can take the place of good old persistence. Talent won't. Nothing's more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius won't. Unrecognised genius is practically a cliche. Education won't. Why! The world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination alone are all powerful.’
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Margin Call (2011)
When a Risk Management Division head is downsized, he leaves behind an analysis that needs work and when his junior begins to go down the rabbit hole of numbers that report has unleashed, he realises that the company is hurtling towards a gigantic debacle. Will an all night problem solving save the financial firm or the predicted end will take place?
Even if you don’t understand how the numbers work, when you put the film in context of the 2008 financial crisis that shook the banking world, you will love the tension and be gobsmacked at the unrelenting swagger of dialogue like: There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat.
Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)
Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo Dicaprio to show us how greed will drive you to destruction. But when you think about it, when you have the money, the power and the fame, do you really think you are going to think about a moral science lesson?
This film follows the rise, the rise, the rise and even higher rise of Jordan Belfort and chronicles his over the top lifestyle which catches the eye of the FBI. Of course, the film also follows his spectacular downfall… or does it? Hear Belfort’s own words: My name is Jordan Belfort. I'm a former member of the middle class raised by two accountants in a tiny apartment in Bayside, Queens. The year I turned 26, as the head of my own brokerage firm, I made $49 million, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week. You can watch this film on Amazon Prime Video.
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Catch Me If You Can
You’ve most certainly watched Farzi that was recently released on Amazon prime Video, right? There was a teenage master forger whose story was made into a delightful film Catch Me If You Can. Frank Abagnale Jr. not only forged cheques so expertly the FBI agent who pursued him became obsessed with him. And the more he was pursued, the more daring his exploits became. Frank also expertly pretended to be a doctor, a pilot as well as a lawyer!
Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hanks play a cat and mouse game so wonderfully, you will need to keep a tub of popcorn handy. No matter how much Tom Hanks tests Leonardo Dicaprio, the best lines of the film go to Christopher Walken who plays Dicaprio’s dad, Frank Abagnale Sr.: Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn't quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.