Inside Job (2010)
Dir: Charles Ferguson
Narrated by: Matt Damon
You know, I was going to make this another chapter in, “Why I Love Film” and chat about documentaries. But, that’ll have to wait: this film has me so pissed off I can barely type reasonably. The title of this entry is a tribute to all the villains, the criminals, the curs interviewed in this film who were confronted with facts and truth and invariably, at one point or another during their interview, would pinch their face and say, “Well, ya know, it’s a complicated issue…” or, “Well, you see, this is a very granular process requiring a lot of research, which I don’t have in front of me, so…” I loved how during one of the interviews, the film maker himself said, “You’ve got to be kidding me: if you’d looked, you’d have seen how wrong this was!”
If you watch none of the other films I’ve suggested on this blog thus far (and note, I haven’t yet reviewed the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Heat, It’s a Wonderful Life or L.A. Confidential) please watch this one. Start by having a look at the trailer I inserted above.
Did you watch it? OK. Let’s agree that if I come into your house and I sell you a weed whacker and the thing falls apart on you – or better yet, you never receive it – the next time you see me, I catch a beating, right? Well, in the modern world of high finance, not only do these salesmen never catch a beating, never are they arrested, they receive millions and millions of dollars in bonuses. How did this process of unregulated financial dealing begin? This movie explains it to you. The best analogy I can quote from the film is a huge oil tanker with nine separate compartments. You fill all of these individual compartments with a bunch of oil – or at least SEVERAL of the compartments – and you keep them separate to avoid capsizing the ship. The financial industry is literally no different: but today, there are NO COMPARTMENTS. One word: capsize. You saw it happen, I saw it happen, watch this film.
The hypocrisy captured in this film will absolutely shock you: take the interview of the madam who explains how her biggest clients were multi-millionaire investors and the brokers investing their money. These “clients” would screw prostitutes and do cocaine all night long and then hit the trading floor hours later. However, the courts very rarely allow any of these folks “personal activities” as evidence into court. This makes no sense: if a drug addict robs a convenience store and is arrested and this is his fourth offence, wouldn’t his drug habit be relevant to the case and admitted into evidence?
And along the same lines, let me tell you NO ONE is safe from this film maker. How about the Deans of Harvard, Columbia and other Ivy League schools? Ferguson illustrates how the very teaching of economics in this country has gone to waste because these professors make thousands, nay millions a year as guest speakers and consultants to the very Banking firms that capsized the ship. In one analogy, he asks the editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, wouldn’t it be appropriate for a Doctor to site his sources and explain why Drug A will cure Disease B? Why don’t we do the same thing in explaining various economic policies? Not to mention the conflict of interest when the economics professor in question is a former board member at Morgan Stanley!! Boy, this movie pissed me off….
Of course there’s George Bush bashing – how could there not be in a documentary? But there’s Clinton skewering. There is Reagan mauling. And in the big finale, the film maker illustrates how, despite Mr. Obama’s insistence in change on Wall Street during his 2008 campaign speeches, the President has appointed to his administration the very same villains who capsized the ship. He has made no attempt at regulating the industry, at “re-compartmentalizing the ship”, if you will.
Final Note: before I go do some pushups, I was very impressed with the even, neutral and calm narration from Mr. Matt Damon. I have to confess my immense adoration of Mr. Damon: any A-list actor who takes the time to involve himself in a little documentary project like this has my glowing respect. I even saw Damon on a public service message on hungry Americans recently – the guy is everywhere!!