Thursday, November 4, 2010

Inside Job

Liz and I decided to see the goriest, scariest, most shocking horror movie we could find for a pleasant Halloween afternoon. Inside Job, a documentary about the 2008 financial catastrophe and its continuing aftermath, fit the bill.

The film starts by showing what a mess bank deregulation made of Iceland’s idyllic financial structure, creating a massive credit bubble that eventually burst. This foreshadows things to come here in the states as the U.S. government systematically deregulated banks.

The film does an excellent job of introducing all the players, those who made the decisions, those who tried to alert and stop those decisions, and those who, directly or not, enabled and supported those decisions. This includes the CEOs of the big financial institutions like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns, Bush’s and Clinton’s finance teams, finance lobbyists, finance journalists, former bankers who have 'gone straight', social advocates, and even a psychologist to the Wall Street bankers.

Also, and most surprisingly, a passel of economists and theorists in positions of power at distinguished business schools like Harvard, Yale, and Columbia who are exposed as paid shills for lobbyists, banks, and even, in one case, the chamber of commerce of…wait for it…Iceland.

Inside Job covers all the trend points of the market's downward spiral: dismantling of the Glass–Steagall Act,  deregulation, the lax oversight of Wall Street's derivatives market, the rise of criminal lending practices that caused almost immediate mortgage defaults and subsequent home foreclosures across the country, the failure of big banks, and the collapse of the company that insured most of the above, AIG. Not to mention the fact that we borrowed money from other countries to bail out our own. And much much more.

The maddening reality of all this is that nothing has changed. CEOs are still compensated with extreme amounts of cash for essentially failing to do anything and the money in D.C. is still funneled to the right politicians because the laws have barely changed. Looking at America from the view of other countries, our culture of greed from the top down sends a message that our own bloated needs will be our undoing.

While filled with talking head interviews and basic animated flowcharts, Inside Job is far from boring. Featuring damning footage from various sources, its message is backed by an array of concise facts presented in follow-the-dots chronology.

The movie is almost two hours in running time, and by the 60-minute mark much of the audience in my theater were vocally seething. But maybe we need to get angry, to get mad. Maybe a general public that knows the truth is the only way to propel more fearless politicians into office.

See Inside Job, and get seething.

Now, a word about the theater. We went to the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline. Inside Job isn't in wide release, and the Coolidge is one of the few art house/repertory cinemas in the Boston area. So it's worth the drive from Lowell. It's also across the street from the Brookline Booksmith and Peet's Coffee, so if you go be sure to make an afternoon or evening of it.  


Theater location: Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline. Moviehouse II. Sunday afternoon, 2:50 matinee. Price $7.00. Viewed with Liz.
Snacks—Panda All Natural Raspberry Liqorice

Coming Attractions: N/A


Liz's Mom said...

This is another great movie review. I am so glad you saw this film and reported on it. Very frightening stuff indeed!

Robin said...

Dell -- You're so right. The 2008 financial collapse of our economy was truly scarier than any fictional horror movie. Great job!

Dell Smith said...

Too bad it wasn't in 3D!

Cynthia Sherrick said...

Just watching the trailer for this film has left me feeling ill.

I think I need to see Inside Job, however.

Laurie Smith Murphy said...

Thanks for sharing, Dell. This is a movie that had to be made and has to be seen. Scary stuff...