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Power Rangers.

I have been waiting for this since I was, like, 14 😂..

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Suicide Squad.

I went to see Suicide Squad earlier tonight at the Omniplex in Sligo. I thought it was just OK.

Here are some thoughts:

- The stand out performer was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Her acting and character performance was superb.

- I thought Jared Leto as the Joker was a let down. He seemed uncomfortable with the character, especially in the early scenes. However, there were not enough scenes to flesh out where he was taking the character.

- I thought the script was ho-hum - it felt like it was a by-the-numbers movie.

- The premise of the movie was daft (imo) with the US Government sanctioning a team of baddies to take down even badder people with one of the baddies becoming said even badder person.

- The CGI towards the end of movie with Enchantress seemed cartoonish. In fact, I thought the whole Enchantress idea was too cartoonish for this movie.

In summary, I felt neutral towards this movie. I am glad I watched it but I do not think I would have missed out had I not seen it.

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Star Trek Beyond.

I went to see Star Trek beyond this evening and I was impressed.

I thought the pace was fast from the get go. Themes included teamwork and reflection - whether we are on the right paths in life.

There was a nod to Leonard Nimoy who passed away recently. Anton Yelchin, who played Chevov will be missed in the next one and oh, Sulu is gay..

In summary, I thought it was a lot of fun to watch and would recommend. 

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The Big Short.

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. Mark Twain

And so begins the movie the Big Short.

Having spent a short stint in financial services auditing, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

The premise of the movie was that the selling and buying of mortgage backed securities bonds got of hand before it finally exploded in 2008.

The movie explored why the media, the SEC and the credit rating agencies did not intervene before the crises (though it left the auditors alone apart from highlighting an Ernst and Young Financial Services stall at an American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas).

Scenes and dialogue I particularly liked included:

- Highlighting that Wall street loves to use complex terms to pretend that noone else could do the job they do or keep people off their backs.

- After verifying the housing bubble through visits to strippers, and speaking with people who were provided with mortgages even though they had no job - I loved it when the penny dropped with Mark Baum and he said it was -
'time to call bullshit on every fucking thing'.

- The 'loved ones' of the family members of the people who were betting against the housing market (and being dissenting voices) recommending they take medication (roly eyes).

The themes of the movie are as relevant today as they were back in 2008. I think the major theme of the movie was Fraud. The question was whether the behaviour of the main players was intentional or just stupid.

Btw, fraud is engaging in deception in order to benefit for personal or financial gain. It was rife in the Naughties in the area of banking and finance.

In the end, Steve Carell's character said that it was known that if things got out of hand, the taxpayers would bail out the banks - it paid to be stupid.

The ending was fairly depressing and it seemed that the writer felt that lessons weren't learned and the banks if given the opportunity would engage in similar practices.

At the end of the movie, the availability of the 2015 banking product - Bespoke Tranche Opportunities was highlighted (roly eyes again).

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"The truth is like poetry-- And most people fucking hate poetry," - Overheard in a Washington D.C. bar by Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short.

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Margin Call.

I rented Margin Call from the Google play store following my viewing of the Big Short movie recently.

Margin call starts with a fictional investment firm laying off staff. One of the staff that has been laid off has discovered that the 'current volatility in the firm's portfolio of mortgage-backed securities will soon exceed the historical volatility levels of the positions'. https://goo.gl/EAfIMh

At a basic level, it was and is a reasonable aspiration to own a home. A bank traditionally lends money to the borrower to buy the home.

What was different than in times past was that whereas in the past banks would hold the loan as an asset on its books over the lifetime of the loan, banks would now put the loans together in a tranche and sell the tranche to investors.

This was profitable for the banks as the risk was perceived as low and returns were high so demand for these products was high.

What happened in the naughties in particular was that the banks began providing loans without due regard to the ability of people to pay. It then packaged these risky loans with less riskier loans so that the tranche would keep its AAA rating.

In Margin Call, the investment firm realises that the investment portfolio they manage that included mortgage backed securities was volatile.

In the past, risk and return was measured using a model based on historical patterns but by making adjustments for defaulters of these sub prime mortgages, it was determined that there could be losses on the assets they held and these losses could exceed the market capitalisation of the firm.

The person in the firm who found this out gave the discovery to one of the lads who was kept on.

The movie moves into crises management mode as the firm tries to get rid of the dodgy investments and try to offload them before people find out.

It was a fascinating angle on the global financial crises. For me, I think it was another example of big corporations taking advantage of peoples reasonable aspirations and needs - in this case owning their own home.

My favourite scene was when one of the investment managers speaks with a younger colleague who is going to be laid off and justifies his actions.

Paraphrased:

People want to live with their big cars and in their big houses that they cant pay for. The only reason they get to keep living like Kings is that we (banks and investors) have the scales in their favour.

Take a hand off the scales and it goes tits up. They (people) want what we have to give them but want to play innocent in terms of what goes on in the background.

That's more hypocrisy than can be stomached so fuck them.

Fuck normal people - he said.

I think that in an ideal world, Big corporations would have learned the lessons and consequences of exploiting peoples reasonable aspirations and needs and that peoples engagement with US global corporations is done with an open eye and critical examination - but I do not think we live in an ideal world.
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