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Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big To Fail” Premieres on HBO

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big To Fail” Premieres on HBO (photo)

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When New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin penned his book “Too Big To Fail” on the U.S. government’s decision to bail out the big banks in 2008, it’s unlikely he was thinking that William Hurt would make a great Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. And yet, he does. Last night, HBO aired a dramatic historical reenactment of the tense days chronicled in Sorkin’s book, “Too Big To Fail.” The made-for-TV movie stars Hurt as Paulson and Paul Giamatti as a dead ringer for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as they attempt to revive the American economy as it teeters on the brink of collapse in light of bad debt, over lending, and greed. It’s like a modern day Cuban Missile Crisis, with banks standing in for Russia and mortgage-backed securities standing in for missiles. There’s a lot less smoking, though. And, unfortunately, a lot less drama.

There is no doubt that writing a thriller based on the world of credit default swaps and Congressional oversight meetings is tough going. Toxic assets are far less compelling than the Toxic Avenger and billion-dollar banks aren’t exactly the grieving widows of melodramas. However, when adapting the book, the movie seems to have taken its cues from a “Law & Order” episode, with bank owners and public employees standing in for the district attorneys. Except minus an actual body, the action seems unnecessarily dramatic. There’s a lot of staring out windows meaningfully, thumping music, and the number of times some variation of the phrase, “If we do nothing, the economy will be dead by morning,” made it feel like the screenwriters were relying on “The Secret” to sell the drama. If they say the story is dramatic often enough, then it will be. Unfortunately, it’s not. However, If watching white men in suits arguing with other white men in suits gets you on the edge of your seat, this movie is for you.

Not to say the story isn’t compelling. The U.S. economy was on the brink of collapse and seeing a somewhat fictionalized account of the behind-the-scenes machinations of the U.S. government and the symbiotic relationship with Wall Street is both fascinating and horrifying. Additionally, the acting by the star-studded cast (Ed Asner! Billy Crudup! Topher Grace! James Woods! Bill Pullman! Cynthia Nixon!) is phenomenal and there is no doubt this will dominate the appropriate categories at the Emmy Awards. However, it’s also just a tetch dull and ends up feeling like you’re sitting through a high production value civics class run by a really cool professor. However if you are interested in learning about the near collapse of the economy and the bailout, your time may be better spent listening to This American’s Life’s fascinating story, “The Giant Pool of Money”.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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