Showing posts with label Dumb Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dumb Money. Show all posts

Saturday, October 21, 2023

"Dumb Money" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Dumb Money" and the Netflix rom-com "Love at First Sight." The Book of the Week is Kerry Washington's new memoir "Thicker Than Water"]

Dumb Money (2023)

The true story of how individual investors turned the video gaming store, GameStop, into one of the hottest stocks in the world and disrupted Wall Street.

During the height of the Pandemic, you might remember the big brouhaha over regular investors driving up the price of GameStop stock, but you probably don't really remember the details of it all because you were more concerned with not catching COVID.  And even if you did know the details, you might not have really understood it all. I know I didn't because I am not particularly savvy when it comes to the machinations of Wall Street and investing, but this film, in addition to being entertaining was very enlightening about the investment world and just what happened.

Here is what I learned:

  • Hedge Fund investorsa limited partnership of investors that uses high risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, in hopes of realizing large capital gains. They like to sell short.
  • Selling shortsell stock or other securities or commodities which one does not own at the time, in the hope of buying at a lower price later. Can get tricky.
  • Short Squeezea situation in which the price of a stock rises to such an extent that investors who have sold short purchase the stock in order to limit their losses, causing the price to rise further. Oops.
  • Diamond Handsa slang term that refers to holding a volatile investment even when there is pressure to sell. 
  • Dumb Money - that's what those hedge fund guys and Wall Street fat cats call individual investors - the little guys - us.

So now you have the basics for this David and Goliath story of a little guy and his followers who took on the big guys.

And lest you worry that this is a dry film about investing, remember I said it's entertaining?  It is.

Based on the book "The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street To Its Knees" by Ben Mezrich, adapted by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo and directed by Craig Gillespie, this is the story of Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a young guy in Brockton, Massachusetts, working at a bank as a financial analyst, and spending his free time on a sub-Reddit site called WallStreetBets, posting his opinions on it via YouTube live streams under the name "Roaring Kitty."

During the height of the COVID Pandemic, Gill notices that the stock for the video game retailer GameStop is undervalued so he invests what little money he has in it and keeps his viewers updated on how he is doing.  At first, his followers (what few he has) and his brother, Kevin (Pete Davidson), make fun of him but soon other individual investors start investing: Nurse Jennifer (America Ferrera), GameStop employee Marcus (Anthony Ramos) and college couple Riri (Myha'la Herrold) and Harmony (Talia Ryder) and the price of the stock goes up.  

All of a sudden GameStop stock is making a ton of money for its investors. Earlier, hedge funders Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) of Melvin Capital Management and Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) had started short selling with the the idea that the online stock buyers would pull out and GameStop would fail. That's how the hedge fund fat cats make their money - betting that a company will fail and then profiting from the failure. But not this time. As the stock prices goes up and up and up and the little guys get richer and richer, they don't sell.  They hang tough with their Diamond Hands (see glossary above).

With me so far?

Things get crazy when WallStreetBets shuts down and RobinHood, the commission-free stock trading website, screws up and all purchasing of GameStop stock is halted in an attempt to drive down the price.  This works but then the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services notices the shenanigans, gets involved and everyone is subpoenaed.

And can you believe it?  This all happened when we were in lockdown during the Pandemic!

So what ultimately happened? Does anyone get rich? Does Dumb Money win? You will have to see the film to find out!  

The film does a good job pointing out the differences between us regular folks and the big money fat cats.  In counterpoint to our hardworking regular folks, we have the spoiled Plotkin, arrogant Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) of RobinHood, rich hedge funder Steven Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and the cold as ice Ken Griffin.  Paul Dano is great as Gill and handily carries this entertaining film along with the star-studded cast that also includes Shailene Woodley as Gill's supportive wife (haven't seen Woodley much lately). 

All of the actors were just wonderful and did their bit to make this thrilling story come to life. Yes, I said thrilling. There is an awesome epilogue that will make you cheer!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a smart, fast-paced, often funny, film with a great ensemble cast.  If you liked "The Big Short (I loved it!)," you will enjoy this. (In theatres)

Love at First Sight (2023)

Love blossoms on a flight to London.  What are the odds?

Twenty-year old American student Hadley Sullivan (Haley Lu Richardson) misses her flight to London to attend her Dad's wedding by four minutes.  However, that's not exactly a new thing.  She is known for being late and not keeping her phone charged. She also doesn't like small spaces, dentists or mayonnaise.  So with time on her hands until her next flight, she goes to charge her phone and meets twenty-two-year old Oliver Jones (Ben Hardy), a Yale student majoring in statistics. The two have an instant connection - he doesn't like mayonnaise either. He also doesn't like surprises so he uses statistics to structure his life and make sure that doesn't happen.

Turns out they are on the same plane to London.  What are the odds?

When Oliver's seat belt doesn't work, he is moved to another seat on the plane...and it's next to Hadley.  What are the odds?

They spend the night falling in love.  What are the odds?

When they get off the plane, there is a rush and Oliver quickly puts his phone number in Hadley's phone and then they are separated.  Did I also mention that Hadley is a klutz?  She drops the phone, it breaks and there goes Oliver's phone number. She now has no way to reach him.

But, hey, this is a rom-com.  Of course they will meet again.  How they get back together and find each other in one of the biggest cities in the world, is part of the fun.  In the meantime, Hadley attends her Dad's (Rob Delaney) wedding, comes to reconcile her feelings with it and Oliver realizes he can't measure his life in statistics.

Based on the 2011 book "The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight" by Jennifer E. Smith, adapted by Katie Lovejoy, and directed by Vanessa Caswill,  this is one of those little 90 minute rom-coms with interesting characters and a quirky plot that the Brits are so good at.  Richardson and Hardy are a believable and engaging couple. She is a lovely young actress and he is totally my type, er, I mean a handsome young actor.  There is also a sort of Greek Chorus element at work with Jameela Jamil narrating the story but also showing up at various points as a flight attendant, a customs officer, a bartender, a bus driver, a wedding guest and a passerby.  Not exactly sure what that was all about, but like I said, these little British rom-coms often have their quirks and that was kind of a fun one.  I started wondering, what are the odds she will show up again?

Rosy the Reviewer this terrible time of world turmoil, we all need a little love and this charming film will make you forget your troubles for awhile. (Netflix)

***The Book of the Week***

"Thicker Than Water" by Kerry Washington (2023)

The once very private star of "Scandal" is no longer private.

SPOILER ALERT:  Well, there is not exactly a spoiler here.  Kerry Washington has been on every talk show imaginable hyping her book and talking about this (but don't read further if you are going to get mad at me):  She discovered that she was the product of artificial insemination and the man she thought was her Dad for 40 years was not her biological father.  

You see, Washington was slated to be on "Finding Your Roots," a PBS show that explores the genetics and family trees of celebrities, and when her parents found out she was going to be on that show, they thought they had better tell her.  Good idea!

So this memoir is all about what that revelation meant to her and how it affected her life.  But there is much more than that here.  In addition to the specifics of her career, she opens up about her personal life: her parents' turbulent relationship and her father's struggle with alcohol; sexual abuse she endured as a young girl; an abortion; and her struggle with anorexia.

But this is not a "woe is me" memoir by any means.  It is a book about success and finding one's true self.

Born in the Bronx with African and Jamaican roots, Washington's mother was a professor and her father was a real estate broker. She was active in the arts from an early age and her career was launched with back-to-back successful movies, "Our Song" and "Save the Last Dance."  Further acclaim followed with roles in "Ray" and "Django Unchained."  But it was her role as Olivia Pope in the TV show "Scandal" that has made her one of the most successful women on TV with nine Emmy nominations and countless other awards.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a Washington fan, you will find this enlightening and you celebrity mavens will find this a candid insider account of an actor's life and career. Check it out at your local library.

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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