Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Opens locally (Main Art Theatre) Friday, November 5th, 2010
Narrated by Matt Damon
Directed by Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight)
It has been a very strong year for the documentary film, and "Inside Job" is no exception. It is a comprehensive analysis of the 2008 global financial crisis, told at a level that economic beginners (like myself) can grasp and understand. Many documentaries get a bad rap as being "one-sided" or not taking into account the other side of the argument. This film does stand out for the simple fact that it has people on both sides of the argument, insiders and experts providing insight into their respective field. When it does not, it tells us who denied being interviewed for the film, leaving you at least with a sense that the filmmaker set out to paint a full picture of the crisis, and not some loon trying to make a radical political statement.
It is a non-partisan film, and it breaks itself into chapters for ease of understanding. We first learn "how we got here", meaning our worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The film seems to point to the de-regulation of Wall Street by the Reagan administration as the first domino to fall...from the sound of that sentence you may think this is a Democrat-slanted viewpoint, but it also puts large blame on decisions made by the Clinton administration. Yet the filmmaker is not trying to assign blame, rather help us understand the financial sector, and how it works in relation to other parts of our economy and the global community.
Once we know how we got here, Ferguson attempts to explain what happened to cause the collapse. A large chunk of the film explains the housing market, and the bubble that came before the demise of housing prices nation-wide. We learn how mortgages work, and who profits in which scenario. The idea of "derivatives" was talked about in Michael Moore's film "Capatilism: A Love Story", but here we really get a deeper understanding of what they are and how they work. Don't know a thing about derivatives? Go watch Inside Job.
The title of the movie of course, refers to the fact that the same people who saw unprecedented profits during these times, are also the same people in power making the policy decisions, and continue to today. It's hard to argue with some of the facts shown in the movie, but of course if you are already in the richest 1% of the country I'm sure you have a difference of opinion.
We learn that companies strive to become "too big to fail", literally hijacking our economy. That the same companies that loan us money secretly bet against our loan to fail, and that it's legal to do so. That prostitution and laundering are commonplace amongst the larger financial institutions. We see that when an investment is given a AAA rating, the highest such rating, that it's only someone's "opinion" and that there are politics in play with how investments are rated. We see how the US collapse effects not only our economy, but other countries around the world.
"Inside Job" will make you mad. Not just at the grand larceny taking place with large financial corporations stealing from common Americans, but at our government officials in whom we place our trust to defend us from things like that. For those of us that have shared in the hurt and suffering, who have lost our jobs or foreclosed on our home, this movie will resonate with you despite your political party or leanings. It's a lot to take in. So much so that you may not be able to retain all of the information in the film. But it does a good job in what it set out to do: educate people on what goes on every day in our economy. It may be an inside job, but the more of us that become aware, perhaps we can take action to force change...That's such a massive concept, a concept seen recently in the education documantary "Waiting For Superman", where one little movie takes on such incredibly wide-spread issues. Both movies tell us that change is necessary, and overwhelming as it may seem, that change is possible.
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