Sunday, December 19, 2010

Inside Job

Inside Job does for the economy what Waiting for “Superman” did for education.  Both discuss in great, exhaustive detail  how a particular part of the American dream is crumbling.  Both expose blames and offer solutions.  And both are tedious, historical lessons that are better suited in very specific graduate school courses.

Inside Job attempts to pinpoint exactly how the global financial meltdown of 2008 occurred.  What happened, why did it happen, who made it happen, and what can we do to fix it?  The film starts off freshly paced and thoroughly examined, helped much in part to Matt Damon’s steady narration, but soon gets lost in translation.

During the film, terms like subprime lending, deregulation, housing bubble, predatory lending, capital and liquidly are thrown around, along with acronyms like CDO, CPD, FCIC, ARM and CRA; and that’s all fine and well, if you know what they all mean.  Me, I don’t have the slightest clue what any of that shit is, and it’s the job of director Charles Ferguson to make laymans like me understand, which… he doesn’t.

Inside Job is constantly busy, continually throwing nuggets of tight information our way, but it’s just too damn much.  I simply couldn’t keep up.  And much like Waiting for “Superman,” once Inside Job reaches its catharsis, it actually gets great.

During the last 20 minutes, Ferguson welcomingly begins to verbally attack the rich white men he is interviewing.  All of these men worked at one time, or perhaps still do, for a major financial system and/or the Bush administration, but are now employed by a major university.  Ferguson wants to know if it’s morally all right for someone to teach that a specific company, or administration, is good or bad, while actually being paid by that company.  Every single interviewee gets tongue tied, some even get pissed and threaten Ferguson.  This is thrilling stuff, and if these really are the fucks responsible for America’s economic collapse, then we feel a sense of vindication in watching them squirm. 

But by then, for me, it was too late. I had already checked out.  I was still trying to figure out the animated bar graph from 55 minutes ago.

Apparently I’m alone here.  Inside Job has been receiving rave reviews, and will likely win the Best Documentary Oscar, for its ability to indict those responsible for the current state of our economy (I mean, hell, Michael Moore couldn’t even do that).  And while I appreciate that, it doesn’t mean that I can magically comprehend the movie. Shame.  Documentaries are arguably my favorite type of films, but no matter the subject, they shouldn’t feel like a school lesson.  B-

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