Lloyd’s a Superstar

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:18 am by George Smith


That line, describing the CEO of Goldman Sachs, played by one of the the little bald guys from Sex In the City, is the level of dialogue in HBO’s Too Big To Fail, its dramatization of the behind-the-scenes dealings between the US government and Wall Street in 2008.

The telemovie actually attempts to portray Henry Paulson and the bankers of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Chase as sometimes decent people, first as a fractious group, then at the end struggling together to avoid global economic collapse.

Once seen it can only be explained as a vanity project for the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, its executive producer.

Re Sorkin and yesterday’s post on snobs and the spoil for everyone at the top, he’s one who “Too Big to Fail” also seems to apply to. From his Wiki bio:

Sorkin graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1995 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University in 1999 … Sorkin has written, co-written or contributed to approximately 2000 articles for The Times, including more than 120 front-page articles and about 150 DealBook columns.


Too Big To Fail is an unintentional credulity-straining trudge. At times it seems like every scene with Billy Crudup’s portrayal of Tim Geithner comes with the latter playing handball, tennis or jogging while using his cell phone to inform William Hurt’s Henry Paulson of whatever is his latest plan to save the world.

The character playing Citi’s Vikram Pandit will make anyone who watches TV even semi-regularly laugh.

One imagines the casting meeting.

Because they needed a guy who looked Indian: “Get me the guy in that Fiber One snack bar commercial!”

Every time he was on screen a little voice in my head kept saying, “Cardboard no! Delicious, yes!”

Too Big To Fail isn’t totally awful in the way of SyFy Channel is on Saturday evening.

But the people who made it, as well as the actors, are exhibits of those who suffer from such big egos they can’t see a movie that turns Henry Paulson and his small office staff of yes-people into the sole saviors of the world economy is, by definition, annoying.

In real life the characters vary between the narrow extremes of odious and/or repulsive. That being the case, anything in the movie that doesn’t reflect that becomes even more patience straining. So multiple scenes of Hurt/Paulson’s wife rubbing his troubled back or saying he’ll pull through just make you want to punch all the people who made this.

Hurt/Paulson, saving the world one mobile phone call at a time in Too Big To Fail.

My take was that Too Big To Fail wasn’t made for any average audience to enjoy. It’s purpose was to burnish Andrew Ross Sorkin’s famous person resume and fulfillment for HBO’s desire for cable TV awards from critics. The latter can always be depended on to provide print blowjobs.

And such is the case.

On Metacritic, Too Big To Fail gets a green 67.

Ken Tucker, a rock critic at entertainment weekly is a good example of the phenomenon, someone who admires the reality-warping portrayal of assholes:

Tim Geithner, chairman of the Federal Reserve, is portrayed by Billy Crudup as a sweaty weasel who’d make a deal with anyone, on any terms, if it took the pressure off him.

When Matt Taibbi saw Too Big To Fail he probably shit his pants. (Here he wipes his feet on another Times business reporter.)

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