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When I was in junior high school, my English teacher walked into the classroom one day, placed a pencil on his desk and pointed at it, saying, “All right, give me at least a page about this before the bell rings — and it had better be interesting.” We thought he was nuts, but the lesson was a valuable one: When faced with a mundane, dull topic, use your creativity to find any possible angle to hold your readers’ attention.

Director Adam McKay uses a similar approach in his 2008 financial-meltdown movie “The Big Short.” McKay takes us deep into the world of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations — I sense your eyes glazing over — but makes convoluted financial fraud feel as entertaining and zany as any of his previous comedies such as “Talladega Nights” or “Anchorman.”

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