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The rich are people too! Who knew?

Brit Marling and Richard Gere, “Arbitrage”

Movies with a Wall Street theme are fairly common, with examples running from the arguably serious Wall Street and The Bonfire of the Vanities to the “Prince-and-the-Pauper” themed comedy, Trading Places. There seems to be a recent flurry, however, with entries including last year’s somewhat mystifying Margin Call and, circulating in some theaters now, Arbitrage, the Nicholas Jarecki film starring Richard Gere.

The latter two films make an interesting contrast. Margin Call, released at the height of the Occupy protests, featured a solid ensemble cast headed by Kevin Spacey. It addressed the 2008 collapse of the global financial system by dramatizing a single night’s events in an investment banking firm on the eve of the crash’s public debut.   The film was never clear about what actually happens financially, and seemed to be a fictional mash-up of two or three major notorious episodes, the main one being a little-known event in Paris in 2008 where one firm unloaded a boatload of bad assets on an unsuspecting market in an extraordinarily short time, attempting to be the first rat off the ship.
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