Inside Job (2010)
The best movie of 2010. And that, boys and girls, is why you don’t jump the gun on your Top Ten lists.
Inside Job is a documentary about how in 2008 we found ourselves in the worst global recession since the Great Depression thanks to the greedy mother effers who got us there, the gross negligence and corruption that allowed it to happen, and why we’re still knee-deep in it to this day. So if you’re one of the many who lost your job, lost your home, and/or lost your savings because someone in the richest 1% of the population felt like gaming the system for trillions of dollars and ultimately got away with it, this one’s for you.
I guess it wasn’t until this past year that I truly started to realize how freakin’ much I love documentaries, and let me tell ya’, there was a lot to love. As great as fiction can be when I’m jonesing for a good story or a two-hour escape from the 9 to 5, it seems to pale in comparison after I stumble upon something like this and am immediately reminded of why I watch movies in the first place. No, a movie doesn’t have to make a difference in order to be great, but a movie that does make a difference, that is so important it makes everything else seem like a thrill ride at Six Flags and renews your faith in the power of film as both an art form and a call to arms, those movies are the ones worth celebrating.
And that’s exactly what Inside Job is.
It’s the sophomore effort by director Charles Ferguson, and considering that this is also the guy who made No End in Sight – one of the best documentaries about American involvement leading up to and during the Iraq War – I think it’s safe to say that Charles Ferguson is very much the man these days. And here, he’s pretty much got two things on his mind: giving his audience the complete low-down on how things went from morally sound to hell in a handbasket over the source of several decades and doing what he can to prevent it from happening again. He asks all the questions during his interviews with those responsible and continue to benefit, those who saw it coming and couldn’t do a thing even if they tried, and those who still deny we’re even in a a recession, but he doesn’t make it about him, he’s just giving these sonsabitches the trial they never had, and more power to ‘im.
But as for the content of his movie, I can’t go into specifics because Ferguson and his interviewees can explain all this stuff far better than I could ever hope to and because this review would be a good 3,000 words at least if I tried to run down every last thing that made me want to move to Canada. Although the one drawback here is that even after listening as hard as I could to Matt Damon narrate the basics of “derivatives”, “CDOs” and a multitude of other outrageously complex financial loopholes that all essentially measured up to one big Ponzi scheme, it’s damn hard to follow along if you’re not already on the level. But by the same token, those things were meant to be mindbogglingly confusing, that’s why they were so effective at swindling everyone on such a large scale, and even if you give up on trying to make heads or tails out of it, the real-life impact it had is impossible to miss.
But here’s a number of things I do know:
1. Fuck deregulation. Believe it or not, there once was a time on Wall Street when the heads of Merrill Lynch, AIG and Lehman Brothers were hard-working men who made honest, living wages by not robbing others blind, playing by the rules and recognizing that to operate an economy where anything goes would eventually lead to complete and utter ruin. Those were the ’70s, those were the days when the market was regulated, and when it was raining, you weren’t actually getting pissed on. Then came the Reagan era, Alan Greenspan was named Chairman of the Federal Reserve, he deregulated the shit out of everything, he was then reinstated by Bush I, Clinton and Bush II where he continued to raise hell and destroy a perfectly sound system with his legion of coattail riders solely for the sake of garnering more money than any man would ever need without any legal repercussions. Didn’t even know what deregulation was before last week, but even with a layman’s education on it, I have no idea how it ever got out of the starting gate.
2. Take a good look at the guys in the pictures I’ve put up here. Starting from the top left and making my way down, we’ve got Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan. These guys were, and continue to be, the cornerstones that led to our financial meltdown, the Top Five on America’s Most Wanted that you won’t see on TV. Folks, I’ve never been one to start mobs or wish violence upon anyone, but I think it would be pretty fair if anyone and everyone could go up to these guys on the street, mug them dry until all they’ve got left are their hands over their groins and have the cops keep on drivin’. Seems fair to me, but since that will never happen, we should all at least know what evil fucks these guys are. Then again, as loathsome as they are, there should have been someone to stop them from square one.
3. Obama is, unfortunately, no better than his four predecessors. Look, I voted for the guy, he’s gotten a lot accomplished during his term in office even if he does a horrible job of letting people know about it, and so I was hoping that eventually the movie would get to him and the tone would shift to “But Barry’s done fixed it!” But alas, he has not. For a guy who got elected to office as a beacon of “change” in our country, it’s heartbreaking to see that his entire Economic Council is pretty much comprised of the same bastards who got us into this mess in the first place. Why they’re throwing rocks in the White House bowling lanes instead of making sure they don’t drop the soap this time in Sing-Sing is something I truly cannot understand, but it’s an absolutely heartbreaking fact that just adds insult to injury.
Alright, those were just three points of many, so I should probably start winding this thing down because even though I’m writing about this movie a good four days after the fact, you can probably imagine how heated I was about all this when I left the theater. It takes no prisoners, it doesn’t sugarcoat any of the ugly details, it ought to be shown in every high school and college economics and history class, it’s just required viewing on the highest level.
I was lucky enough to see this with a packed crowd last week, and while that’s usually my least favorite condition to see a movie under, it really was something to hear everyone reacting the same way to what we were all seeing. I was shaking my head more times than I could count, I was literally on the edge of my seat in a state of sheer disbelief as the atrocities snowballed to heights that made my head spin, and so was everyone else. It was a chorus of disappointment, frustration and shock that made me want to scream at the top of my lungs if only to let out some of the pent up rage that only fostered when all was said and done, and it almost makes me want to cry just thinking about it.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call Inside Job an “entertaining” movie per se, but it’s like being on the shore and watching a tanker sink over the course of two hours. You can’t believe what you’re seeing, you’re utterly helpless and you can’t look away. Even if you weren’t/aren’t directly affected by all the events and individuals that led to this movie being made, you really do deserve to hear everything this movie has to say. I truly hope that future generations will look back on this movie and take steps towards preventing history from repeating itself, because this shit cannot happen again.