Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Look: INSIDE JOB

In 2007, documentarian Charles Ferguson released No End in Sight, the definitive chronicle of the early days of the Iraq war. His follow up, Inside Job, uses much of what made that earlier film great. This documentary calmly and with great clarity peels back the layers of disinformation and obfuscation to compile a carefully researched portrait of the worldwide economic crisis that exploded in late 2008 and has left us stranded in a recession ever since. With incredible interviews and expert use of visual aids, narrated by a somber Matt Damon, the facts and statistics have never looked so damning. This film is a downpour of information that takes the mostly superficial reporting that has been done thus far and presents it as a unified whole. This is the big picture displayed in a masterful documentary that is stunningly thorough. It’s beautifully photographed, crisply edited, and skillfully assembled. Truth really is stranger than fiction; this is what was entertainingly and messily fictionalized in the mildly disappointing Wall Street 2. This is the true story of the booms and busts and meltdowns and bailouts of the last decade, and the decades of market manipulation that made it possible. The depth of investigation is impressive. Just how “free” is our free market? While the full extent of the comprehensive reporting produced by the film is certainly too much to fully explicate here, it is safe to say that the thoroughly deregulated greed of the financial industry has a symbiotic death-grip on our country’s politics. Obscene riches are built on deception and willful ignorance. The income gap in this country is rarely so starkly shown. When the film ended, I remained in my seat for a few minutes, infuriated and emotional, trying to catch my breath and still my hands. Here is a documentary that has to power to leave you literally shaken. It smashes past easy ideologically driven answers and arrives at something cogent, frustrating, and deeply felt. Inside Job is the best, most complete look at this crisis that I’ve so far encountered. It’s far more essential and far more satisfying than the usual financial reporting. This is a truly indispensible work of journalism. This is a bleakly funny true-crime documentary, terrifying and maddening.

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