Release date: February 18th 2011
Certificate (UK): 12A
Running time: 108 minutes
Director: Charles Ferguson
Narrated by: Matt Damon
Whether or not you think you know everything about the global financial crisis of 2008, cheap described as the worst since the Depression, you have to watch this documentary. It’s not only about the $20 trillion of losses or the millions of unemployed and homeless it left in its wake. As we’re still reeling from the effects and struggling with mounting debt and financial instability, Inside Job allows us to look into the faces of those who were, and still are, in charge. And it’s not a pretty sight.
Directed by Charles Ferguson, a former political scientist and software entrepreneur, and narrated by Matt Damon, Academy Award-nominated Inside Job tells us the story of a crisis that was, by and large avoidable.
Ferguson traces it back to the banking boom of the 1980’s when the “Greed is good” motto hit Wall Street, right the way through to the late 1990’s and early 2000’s to show how deregulation (the limiting of government control on how business is done) and plain simple greed led us there.
Using research and interviews with financial insiders, politicians and journalists, the story never loses focus as it presents its argument; that no one has gone to prison, despite a fraud that not only caused trillions but ruined many lives.
One of those interviewed is William Ackman, the managing partner, founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. In 2007 he presented a report “Who Is Holding The Bag” which detailed one of the earliest warnings about the impending crisis but no one took any notice.
He is not alone; there were many who warned that Wall Street culture was escalating beyond control and that losses like those recorded by Fannie Mae and Bear Sterns, and collapses like Lehman Brothers were inevitable.
Ferguson says of Inside Job:
I’m not from a financial background, and I would certainly struggle if I had to explain what the difference is between the Dow Jones and FTSE Index, but I found Inside Job to be an extremely engaging documentary. Although the jargon was completely alien to me at first, that the financial crisis was something that hit us all in uniquely profound ways made it possible for me to jump right in, finding a rhythm and quickly picking up terms like “deregulation” and “derivatives” as they were explained. The more I learnt, the more enraged I felt and the more engrossed I became as I watched key players in this crisis clam up and crack when Ferguson confronted them with the facts and didn’t let up.
Glen Hubbard for example, Chief Economic Advisor during the Bush Administration and currently the Dean of the Columbia University Business School. We watch as his calm, cool exterior gradually breaks down when he’s quizzed on advocating deregulation and tax cuts to reveal something I actually have no words for…not any which are publishable anyway. I could have snapped a tooth in half from the amount of gritting that was going between my clenched teeth, especially when I thought about the fact he is passing on his ‘knowledge’ to future generations of bankers.
There’s more in 108 minutes than I normally see in a year’s worth of news and TV reports. The information is documented exceptionally well, and the sheer amount of research which must have gone into it alone is astounding, not to forget a certain aesthetic pull with location shoots in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China as well as a great soundtrack which includes the 1973 hit Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive.
Damon’s narrates very to the point and sounds genuinely interested. He draws you in with a story of corruption, vice, greed and disregard for the everyday man. A tale about an industry which infected a government and turned its back on the people it was meant to serve, like Steven A. Stephen (left), a former construction worker, who lost everything and has been living in an overcrowded tent park since.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .