Tuesday 15 March 2011

Review: Inside Job

Year: 2010 (U.K Release 2011)
Director: Charles Ferguson
Narration: Matt Damon

Many have considered Inside Job as scary. I however do not. This is not because I find the film to be a bad one, but because it once again reminded me that money talks, absolute power corrupts absolutely and for those not in the top 1% in terms of wealth we are royally screwed nearly always in some roundabout. I guess the knowledge in the fact that these people can't take their wealth with them after they die help subside any anger that could have come from watching the movie.

Inside Job tells the story of the economic crisis in a very typical way for a documentary. There is nothing out of the ordinary in it's set up. It wishes to use it's stats and facts to drive the movie home and for that unfortunately it's a little dry. In fact the set up of the crisis (despite some interesting insight) is the most difficult to get through. This is the worst and best thing about Inside Job in someway as it's not the most joyous thing to watch but it also speaks in volumes on how easily the trouble was allowed to start. To have us as the  "bewildered herd" is best for these people as then only the "saviors" could help us by sorting it out. This is even though our best interests are about the size of a penny in the ocean in comparison to the money they wish to make.

The film illustrates the greedy ideals of these people efficiently enough with it's overheard shots of the Hamptons and as one commentator quotes "pissing contests" that these investors and bankers have. One of the most intriguing aspects I found in the film is the simple fact that for many decades after the great depression America appeared to be financially sound. So why is it that the powers that be decide to restructure and deregulate the banking sector? Don't answer that question. The film knows why and answers it well. Ferguson builds the unjust and greedy world these character inhibit well. He also does this with a damning attack on the U.S governments that have allowed this. Liberal or Conservative is crucially not the point here as it shows (particularly in the last third) that Ferguson wishes only for a fairer and just America over anything else. 

What I enjoyed about the movie isn't so much how well it deals with the financial crisis, but the backtracking and bullshit that comes with these people. Greed isn't a sin that stirs me as much as pride and the talk of chemical reactions in the brain of the wall street types when risks are taken provide the most revealing. The lust for power and wealth is one thing, but the delusional thoughts of grander, self belief that they are above the law and the sheer amorality that bolsters this drive provide the most striking moments. The films final third in which the academics and consultants of top colleges stumble and fume over their words when questioned on conflict of interests are very entertaining. It's amusing to think that Jeff Gerstmann was fired for his integrity  over a measly video game, while the bigwigs of Harvard and Columbia happily take huge pay offs to give positive financial advice on the very people who just paid them.

For me once you get past the babble and talk of it all (I hated economics at college and dropped it for film and media) Inside Jobs main argument is a sound one. It is a worrying thought that the financial bulk of greedy bankers and their lobbyists appear to have more control in the state of country than it's politicians, particularly when they only give a damn about profit by any means necessary. Throughout the films opening sequences, many shots are of skyscrapers pointing upwards to the sky, which help paint an interesting visual picture (consider the fact they are always trying to build higher ones). I'm surprised that Ferguson doesn't feature any shots of the Wall Street Bull at all. As obvious as the metaphor is it's still an immensely apt one.