Monday, February 07, 2011
#53: Inside Job
Inside Job is a 2010 documentary about the US financial crisis that shook the western markets that evenutally led to dreadful repercussions all around the globe.
It begins with an example of Iceland's economy being in doldrums and how it got there in the first place. This intro works as an apt aperitif for the sumptuous main course that is to follow in the movie that describes the events that paved the ill-trodden path towards the disastrous sub-prime crisis. Shot in a slick style, the movie consists of 5 parts- each telling us the origins and the hows and the whys of the crisis. The chronological order of narration works brilliantly as far as assimilation of information for the viewer is concerned. Director Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight) manages to get some of the best names from fields as diverse as international politics, bureaucracy and academics to lobbyists, prostitution (this is not a typo in this review) and corporate honchos. These include people with impressive titles such as the Finance Minister of France, US Secretary of Treasury, the Singapore PM and the Dean of Columbia School of Business. Ferguson then manages to break it down all for us by simplifying the meaning of arcane financial terms such as CDO's and Derivatives with the patience akin to that of a teacher.
In doing so, he is exemplarily transparent in analysing the ills of the financial system and lays down all his cards on the table with panache. So whether he's taking on Alan Greenspan or Barack Obama, he makes it a point to pull back no punches. With the help of the smooth voice of narrator Matt Damon, he creates an universe that explains all the machinations of the crisis, particularly focussing on two critical segments those about the corporate lobbying that influences policy-making in the US and the nexus between Wall Street and the field of academics.
The Inside Job is a brilliant documentary because of two main reasons. First, it takes a contemporary subject that affected us all in some way or the other and that makes it very easy to relate to it. It then takes a simple route to play out the movie, that of taking interviews. So unlike Michael Moore's documentaries that have his inferences splattered through the movie along with the interviews, the narrator here tells you a fact through an actual interview with a person and then lets you make your own conclusion. The latter is what makes the Inside Job an extremely engrossing watch.
To sum it up, if ever a documentary called a spade a spade, this is it. If ever you shouldn't miss out on a documentary, this is it.