I review a book or movie every Friday.
This week I watched Inside Job, winner of the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Inside Job examines how corruption in the financial services industry led to the 2008 recession.
As a general rule, I’m wary of political and economic documentaries. Many tend to be one-sided and oversimplified. Most cherry-pick facts and quotes that cast their own agenda in the best possible light.
I was pleasantly surprised by Inside Job.
Yes, it had a preordained conclusion: banks = bad. That’s the premise of the movie; it’s evident in the title. That verdict was decided before the filming began.
But it was well-researched. It presented complex facts. For the most part, it gave “the other side” a fair shot.
I got sense that the director was furious at the banks, but forced himself to film with restraint.
The movie is split into five parts:
#1: How We Got Here – Details the deregulation of banking in Iceland, the savings and loan scandal of the 1980’s, the Internet bubble, and the 21st century consolidation and dominance of just a small handful of investment banks.
#2: The Bubble – Goes into depth about credit-default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. The narrator, Matt Damon, interviews an all-star cast of government and banking officials. He asks tough and nuanced questions.
#3: The Crisis – This is mostly a historic recap. Everything collapsed; the sky is falling.
#4: Accountability – Here the movie rants about CEOs walking away with huge severance packages while the masses get unemployed.
#5: Where We Are Now – This story doesn’t have an ending, so they forced a conclusion in the form of a question. Where will we go from here?
Should You Watch It?
I’m not calling it objective. The movie included several scenes –- including a long, irrelevant tangent on cocaine use — that were filmed for the sake of making red-herring character attacks.
The movie also seems to propose that regulation is the answer to all of life’s problems.
It could have been better. But compared to many other documentaries, it was restrained, reasonable and well-researched. That’s all I ask for.
Read More Movie Reviews: