Sam Mendes’s 1917 is the talk of Oscar season – but when I went to see it last week I was prepared to be disappointed.
My fears had nothing to do with the film’s cast or crew. The trouble is that the film’s subject matter is hardly virgin territory. Make a film about the First World War, and you are pitting yourself against Renoir and Kubrick, to say nothing of Blunden, Sassoon, Junger, and Remarque – and that’s before you even get to the poets. It is a high bar for any new artistic treatment.
I have to confess that I had a similar sense of trepidation when I began Anastasia Nesvetailova and Ronen Palan’s new book Sabotage: The Business of Finance. As its title suggests, this is a book about what is wrong with finance and how to reform it. Moreover, much of the evidence it adduces to answer these questions consists of case studies from the global financial crisis of 2007-09.
As Sabotage itself concedes early on, these are topics which by now been picked over in minute detail in a decade’s-worth of articles, books, plays and films. Here too the bar for yet another effort is set high. What new contribution, I wondered, can Sabotage possibly make to set itself apart?