Inside Job (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Inside Job (2010)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site

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Danny LIKEFrançois Truffaut once claimed it's impossible to make an anti-war movie. The trappings of depicting the violence of war is inherently exhilarating to the audience, and any narrative will have some patriotic undertone that, no matter how denounced, will still resonate with the audience.

I'd like to extend that axiom to films about wealth. Any movie about wealth and power innately glorifies it, and any film criticizing their excesses often portray the hero as the flawed component and not the money. The message common media narratives-- say Boiler Room, Wall Street, Rogue Trader, maybe even Treasure of the Sierra Madre, dozens of other films--  seem to portray isn't that money makes you unhappy, but that you will inevitably ruin the happiness that money brings you.

Now remove from that equation the ability to ruin yourself. Strange, but 'ruination' often and best comes from emotional and legal payoffs, both of which can be suppressed with drugs and money. Balancing those two is also a matter of money, so isn't just having enough money happiness then?

The masterminds of the recession.

Okay, I'd like to thank you for sitting through 'Shitty Armchair Philosophy Theater', but I think my point still stands. You will never see a movie that portrays the actual possession of money as essentially a bad thing. We live in a society where wealth-- not social good, honor, courage, what have you-- is the deciding factor in prestige, something that is envied and desired by all.

So I guess what I'm saying that it's not the most surprising thing in the world when one group schemes together to steal money from others, nor is it surprising that there are payoffs and double dealings. The only surprising thing is just how far up it went, and how no one has been punished.

Inside Job is an angry unrelenting recounting of the financial trickery and practices that cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars and pushed the world's economies into a standstill. It outlines what's happened, what the consequences are, and, damningly, who's responsible, which can be boiled down to politicians, academics, CEOs, the financial industry, and wholesale assholes, though that last one might encompass all the rest.

For those of you who haven't been around the last two years (and how is that international space station these days?), there's a complicated financial morass that happened that pretty much occurred when Ronald Reagan allowed banks to invest their own money, and Clinton let them take this money and gamble with it. It's legalized craps, only financial institutions play with other people's money.

If you want a more detailed account, go see the film itself, which ruthlessly de-mythologizes the process. It does an excellent job breaking down the complexities into comprehensibility before it takes charge and looks into who the filmmaker's deem as responsible.

Another CEO takes home millions from his company's collapse.

As for naming the culprits, the movie is quick to take aim at Washington financial lobbying firms (five employees for every one member of congress!) and various heads of the Treasury and Federal reserve who were culled from the very financial institutions they were supposed to then regulate. Academics who write papers praising and maintaining the flawed system also, coincidentally, work for the same financial institutions that run off this system. People are brought on screen who believe that a 'conflict of interest' is not something that they should alert the government or clients about, as long as it doesn't conflict with their want of money.

The movie is deliberate and calculating, and while it belabors the flaws of the banking system, it also conveys the failures of decency and morality present in all of these men. They have achieved enough money, power and influence that not even changing politicians seems to be able to shake them out of their power. Companies that have failed got a slight wrist slap and now continue their predatory practices, continuing the cycle of the rich getting richer and the poor... well, as usual, it sucks to be them.

I said at the top that I think it's impossible to make an anti-money film, and even this movie can't help but linger on the excesses that these men coveted, from prostitutes to helicopters. The film is outraged on part of the audience for seeing their money destroyed, but it offers no more solutions because, simply, there seems to be nothing left. I think that's interesting, but belies a sad truth that for every one in this country, we live in an era of unpunishable, unmitigated and unsustainable greed.

For reference, though this is simplified:

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Posted by Danny

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