In September of 2008 Andrew Ross Sorkin pitched a 350-page book covering the lead-up to the financial collapse sparked by the failure of Lehman Brothers, and the following year he published a 600-page tomb called Too Big To Fail that became the quintessential guide to understanding just what the fuck happened to our country when all those bubbles burst. That book has been turned into an HBO film, written by Peter Gould of Breaking Bad, with an utterly insane cast that includes William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, James Woods, Topher Grace, Ed Asner, Bill Pulman, Billy Crudup, Tony Shalhoub, and Matthew Modine. The movie premieres in May (HBO tends to keep specific dates to themselves until the last minute) and will surely be a controversial conversation starter. First check out this teaser/behind-the-scenes feature…

Bernanke Beard does not suit Paul Giamatti, damn.

As you can see, the film attempts to strike a moderate tone that reflects the Sorkin’s (very controversial) even-handed approach to financial journalism. If you’re not familiar, Andrew Ross Sorkin is the financial prodigy that began as an intern at the New York Times and a decade later had worked himself into the network of Wall Street’s elite, taking the behind-the-times paper and made it a major scoop-breaking player in the financial world. Sorkin’s youth and perceived friendliness with his sources is the cause of his success and a major point of contention with his critics. He also founded an email-based newsletter that covered financial news that has become a major website and brand on its own. So when Sorkin released his extremely thorough and illuminating book, it was acknowledged as obviously being the most intimate portrait of the financial sector during and before the crisis that would ever be published, and yet its borderline favorable view of many of the key players has drawn the ire of many.

This HBO adaptation sticks close to that, pushing the “neither heroes nor villains” edge and filling the cast with familiar faces. There’s no doubt the movie is going to give millions a much better idea of what happened and who’s responsible, but will it essentially let these guys (virtually all of which are still major players and maintain their jobs) off the hook? It’s a dangerous line to tread, and the reaction to the film will be interesting.

HBO has dabbled in this territory before with Recall, which covered the Bush/Gore election scandal- a huge clusterfuck with huge implications, yet a fairly simple and straightforward story when compared to the Titanic-scale catastrophe that occurred in 2008. We continue to struggle with the fallout from those events on Wall Street, and the unfortunate reality seems to be that we might never do so 100%. Either way, it’s a tough trick to compress an event of that magnitude and sensitivity into a feature-length film, but if anyone is capable it just might be director Curtis Hanson, who made a little film called L.A. Confidential.

We’ll let you know when the date is set and a real trailer emerges.

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More Background on Sorkin… NY Magazine

(via Awards Daily)