Directed by: Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight)
Starring: Matt Damon (narrator), William Ackman, David Alpert, Jonathan Alpert
Probably the angriest and most terrifying documentary I’ve ever seen, Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job is an experience like no other as it carefully and clearly deconstructs just how the economy got to the state it’s in today. It is likely to displease a lot of people on both sides of the aisle, since it draws no lines about blaming both Republicans and Democrats, though it definitely lays the blame of the start of it all at the feet of the former. That, however, seems less bias to me than simply being factual. At the same time, it also clearly fingers Democratic complicity right down the line and up to the present day. I suspect, however, that those who will most hate this film are the ones who preach unfettered “free market” economy, since this is a portrait of that very thing.
But Inside Job isn’t a film that wants to be liked. It’s a film that quite frankly wants to piss you off—not at itself—but at the complete and seemingly unassailable Wall Street-connected corruption of government, finance and even education. The film is a depressing picture of the banking world run wild in an atmosphere where money brokers are answerable only to themselves, while also shaping government policies and the teaching of economics in our universities. There seems to be nothing to stop them from nearly any corner of the political spectrum. They’ve firmly entrenched themselves and placed themselves beyond the law—in part, by simply bamboozling the world at large into believing they’re essential to our continued survival because they’re the only ones who understand how the economy works.
The film does a splendid job of dismantling the whole system, in large part by letting participants in that system speak for themselves. It’s very hard to listen to someone tell you that they see nothing wrong with handing out multimillion dollar bonuses to CEOs of corporations on the receiving end of a $700 billion-dollar government bailout and not be convinced that either these people are lying or are just completely amoral. It seems incredible that they can not only buy their own rhetoric, but what’s more, expect the rest of us to do so.
I won’t try to detail here the key abuses that caused the recession. I’ll leave that to the film, which does a much better job of it than I can here in a few sentences. In fact, I’m not going to go on at length about Inside Job. I’m simply going to say you need to see this film—even if you don’t agree with it and even if you don’t like documentaries. This one you should see. Rated PG-13 for some drug and sex-related material.