I'm still waiting to be blown away -- heck, just really impressed -- by whatever movies will end up being the signature movies of 2011? "Midnight in Paris" was sweet and diverting, but that's it. "Sarah's Key" was brutal, and I'm afraid "We Have to Talk About Kevin" is worse. The much-anticipated "The Debt" was good, as was "Moneyball," and "The Ides of March" was well done but less than sublime. The best movie I've seen this year is "Incendies," actually a 2010 movie.
So it probably wasn't fair for me to invest too much hope in "Margin Call," a dramatization of what might or might not be the failure of a company like Lehman Brothers during the worst of 2009 Wall Street meltdown. It does a good job of conveying the attitudes and atmosphere of time and place, but ultimately it just doesn't hang together. Much is unsaid, and I generally like that eliptical approach to storytelling, but there's a fine line, and half the time I felt as if I was watching "Dune." That's not a compliment.
There are fine performances by Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci and, notably, by Paul Bettany. You could do worse with your $8 and a Saturday evening. I just hope the coming weeks -- the end-of-the-year rush with the good stuff -- bring us much better choices.