Inside Job Charles Ferguson

Inside JobCharles Ferguson
When director Charles Ferguson accepted this year's Academy Award for Best Documentary, he opened his speech by saying: "Three years after our horrific financial crisis, which was caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail ― and that's wrong." That kind of blunt conviction resonates throughout Inside Job, which could easily have been a paint-by-numbers anti-capitalist screed channelling populist anger. Instead, it's a thorough, detailed, devastating non-partisan account of what went wrong, why and who exactly is to blame ― from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama and the heads of every financial institution of the past 30 years (but especially Alan Greenspan). The problem was not the game of Western capitalism ― the problem was that the game was being played like Lord of the Flies, with no one in charge and accountable, and with drastic real-world implications. Ferguson clearly lays out the reasons why the crash was caused by moral failure, male hubris and deregulation. Yet no matter how effective his storytelling, the complexity and magnitude of the situation are certainly overwhelming ― halfway through the film, the explanations about how bad loans somehow turned into Triple-A-rated bonds start to feel like you're being slapped upside the head with a large, slimy fish ― and the copy of the Wall Street Journal it's wrapped in. Though the visuals are compelling (no small feat, considering the subject matter), Inside Job works better on DVD, not just because you can parse the informative commentary and deleted scenes for further context, but because you can pause and rewind to absorb the details. His interviews are polite but pointed; he gets several key players to squirm without resorting to "gotcha" techniques. His script is clear; his editing is tight; and his interview list ranges from wonky academics to world leaders to prostitutes to a shrink who specializes in Wall Street clients. And the opening credits are thrilling ― licensing Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" ate up five percent of the film's budget, but it was more than worth it. Ferguson closes with a clarion call demanding that Americans take their country back from the clutches of Wall Street criminality. But more than anything else, the preceding 109 minutes mostly make you want to stuff your money under your mattress. (Sony)