Seeing The Big Short this afternoon. Looking forward to seeing how they adapted that book. Critic and author Mark Harris rates Adam McKay’s screenplay as one of the best of the year. I hope McKay found a way to work in one of my favorite short scenes from Michael Lewis’ book. It involves the character played by Brad Pitt---Ben Hockett in real life; for some reason, Ben Rickert in the movie. Ben Hockett was not inclined to look on the bright side. Pessimist doesn’t begin to describe the bleakness of his doom and gloom-ism. Worst case scenarios were to him far and away the likeliest case scenarios. This attitude helped make him a very successful financial analyst. It made him obsessive and paranoid in his personal life, as illustrated in this scene:
[Hockett’s business partners] Charlie and Jamie preferred Ben to keep his apocalyptic talk to himself. It made people uncomfortable. There was no reason anyone needed to know, for example, that Ben had bought a small farm in the country, north of San Francisco, in a remote place without road access, planted with fruit and vegetables sufficient to feed his family, on the off chance of the end of the world as we know it. It was hard for Ben to keep his worldview to himself, however, especially since it was the first cousin of their investment strategy: The possibility of accident and disaster was just never very far from their conversations. One day on the phone with Ben, Charlie said, You hate taking even remote risks, but you live in a house on top of a mountain that’s on a fault line, in a housing market that’s at an all-time high. “He just said, ‘I gotta go,’ and hung up,” recalled Charlie. “We had trouble getting hold of him for, like, two months.”
The reason they didn’t hear from him is that he was in the process of selling his house.