The Dinner: A BLC (bacon, lettuce & crabmeat sandwich) and fries washed down by a Manhattan at Blueacre Seafood, 1700 7th Ave, 659-0737, DOWNTOWN.
"Yo, bro, I'm meeting clients at Blueacre for lunch."
The Screenplate: The most poignant scene in J.C. Chander's commanding feature-length debut involves very little talking. In an elevator are two execs at a Wall Street brokerage, played by Simon Baker and Demi Moore, who are in the throes of a high-stakes internal power struggle. Between them stands an elderly woman who could be either of their mother, armed with a garbage can, rags, and various disinfectants. She's the building's janitor, yet she is oblivious to the havoc the people whose offices she cleans are about to wreak upon her socioeconomic class.
Margin Call is the film Oliver Stone wished he could have made when he released his recent Wall Street sequel. Yet Stone is not a filmmaker known for his grasp of nuance, and the mortgage meltdown is a situation that is served best by layered storytelling. Chandor pulls this off with aplomb, seemingly mocking Stone by giving his firm's CEO, played by Jeremy Irons, the same thick- and slick-backed hairdo as Michael Douglas. Irons' John Tuld, it should go without saying, runs circles around Douglas' Gordon Gekko in the acting department.
A major strength of Chandor's film is that it portrays several Wall Street types in multiple dimensions, to the point where it obliterates the notion that there is a Wall Street type. Sure, there are shallow, fratty douchebags--epitomized by Baker's backbiting corporate striver and Tacoma-bred Penn (Gossip Girl) Badgley's fresh-out-of-college Material Boy. But for every Badgley and Baker there's a Paul Bettany (a boozy, debauched middle manager with a conscience), a Stanley Tucci (a fired family man who once built bridges), a Zachary Quinto (a rocket scientist who gravitated toward the Street for the money before doggedly unraveling a scheme to end all schemes), and a Kevin Spacey (a conflicted exec who goes back far enough with Irons' character to shoot him straight rather than cower in his presence). The Spacey-Irons relationship, in fact, is analogous to that of Tommy Lee Jones and Craig T. Nelson in last year's equally compelling The Company Men, which is the perfect companion piece to Margin Call in the realm of richly-textured depictions of the American fiscal avalanche.
If the brokers in Margin Call were to dine in Seattle, they'd surely head to Blueacre, Kevin Davis' coldly corporate seafood shrine. The way the restaurant's sign is hung at the corner of the tower whose ground floor it occupies, it looks like it could be the moniker of the financial institution that's bought the edifice's naming rights, not a restaurant. Among its lunchtime patrons, soothed by the sounds of Mariah Carey overhead, starched collars are en vogue. And its BLC--a BLT, but with Dungeness crabmeat as well as pickles added to the party--tastes fine but tends to crumble all over the plate, much like the mortgages the Tulds and Gekkos bundled together, only to watch them unravel to perilous ends.