Release Date: May 16th, 2010 (Cannes Festival), October 8th, 2010 (Independent release, US)
Director: Charles Ferguson
Narrated By: Matt Damon
Oscar Award for: Best Feature Doc*mentary
One of the interviewees makes the comment in Charles H. Ferguson's (No End in Sight) straight forward breakdown of the economic collapse of our financial institutions in 2008 (you prob remember this, if you paid attention to the news at the time, or, gosh, lost your job and home from it) that a financial engineer makes 100 times what a real engineer (someone who builds actual bridges through their efforts) makes, and they do it through dreams. Only these dreams turned out to be nightmares that have affected millions of people. Simple, yet powerful words to absorb...
Narrated by Mr. Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon, director Ferguson goes about speaking with the most senior financial experts he can get his microphone and camera near, and asking the tough but obvious questions some of us have burned to ask. Why have we lost millions of jobs in not just the US job marketplace, but the global marketplace? Who exactly is to blame for this? And by the end of the film, you feel like you could make that literal list of who exactly to point your finger at. Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Henry 'Hank' Paulson, and a select few others are surely some of the most guilty parties. They've all held important government posts during the Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and most importantly Obama administrations. The Obama administration has more of these movers and shakers then the previous administrations, and yet Obama's silver tongue claimed at the beginning of his campaign and through it to do away with such lobbyists and those who only seek to profit off other people's hardships. What a load of crap.
A lot of you are probably familiar with the sub-prime loan implosion that occurred in 2008, and I'll be the first to admit, I'm no genius when it comes to economics. A lot of that kind of crap goes over my head. But Inside Job manages to break everything down in four steps, outlining where the problems began (deregulation of Wall Street beginning in Reagan's administration); how the super bankers took advantage of this deregulation and bullied the smaller bankers into joining their ranks or being put out on the street. How this leads to loans being issued to people who clearly had no way of realistically paying these lenders back, therefore, like dominoes, the home owner goes homeless, the lender goes... lender-less?, and the financial conglomerate who gave the lender the funds and convinced them to loan money to these "home owners" in the first place walks away with a bail out, because they can make the claim that they are "too big to fail", and have a literal army of lawyers ready to take the proverbial bat to your head if you try to argue with them. And then of course the film shows us where we are today.
And while all that may sound boring (I know Economics and talking about losing jobs and homes isn't exactly something people want to think about when watching a film, even if it is a doc*mentary), Ferguson manages to make all this information we're bombarded with simple to understand, and quite entertaining, actually, as some of the economists he speaks with become choked up over figuring out a lie to his questions, or become visibly and verbally angry. Their indignation is hilarious to say the least, as they become irritated by a guy with a camera and some small questions, and they live in the Hamptons (right outside of New York, for those unfamiliar) and expansive ranches, living the good life. Of course, they don't really need to say much as it stands, since their outrageous lifestyles and actions speak for themselves; one could always just ask the myriad of prostitutes/madams/pimps they are associated with these same questions, and obtain answers easily enough.
On top of the amusing and enlightening interviews, Matt Damon's narration never becomes droning or boring, as he fluidly explains the multiple graphs and bars we're shown throughout the doc*mentary. I'm honestly impressed that Damon was willing to lend his voice for this project, as it seemed like he was aligning himself on the conservative side of this economic meltdown, not something I'd think a lot of other actors of his caliber would do, given that most of them are either apolitical, or very left leaning.
I cannot really make the claim our economic repression we're currently in has made my life that much harder, as I don't own a home, nor have I, and my jobs I've held these past 7 years were nothing really of note to fret over, but it has affected other members of my family. The biggest and worst (by worst, I mean best) example is my aunt being laid off from her professor job with which she had tenure I believe (something that makes it almost nigh impossible to lose your job once you have it), and this has lead to irreversibly damaging choices made by her and a continuing spiral into oblivion that is hurting the rest of my family emotionally in ways we've never dealt with. The lost job over downsizing at her university was merely one card that lead to this, but it was definitely an ace in the hole. And that is but a SMALL example of the kind of damage this implosion has incurred. We should feel lucky that we haven't been as affected by this recession as a lot of families have been.
Also with Ferguson's blunt dialogue with his interviewees and Matt Damon's guidance through this mess, is some highly entertaining music choices by Alex Heffes. As we pan across the skyline of New York City (a good chunk of Manhattan, to be specific), we're inundated with 80's tunes and scores that strangely reminded me of two movies, being Wall Street (fittingly), and Ghostbusters. Why Ghostbusters? I have no idea, but it seemed like music you'd find in one of those movies :P It's catchy, upbeat, and in tune with what we're visually looking at, and made the experience go by fast. Really, this doc*mentary is a lot more pleasurable to get through then it has a right to be, given its grim subject material.
At about 2 hours, Inside Job will leave you angry, but righteously so. You'll walk away feeling like a somewhat expert on how we ended up where we are, and be unexpectedly pleased with what you just viewed, wanting to share it with the nearest person, so you can get indignant together. And you should, because becoming educated and wising up to these super banker's games are the only way to beat them at it. You can continue to ignore the problems because they're not staring you in the face at this moment, but they will eventually if you let them run rampant, and goddamnit, we need to pay attention NOW.