Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010): USA

Reviewed by William Conlin. Viewed on DVD

I recently watched John Carpenter’s Halloween in my Film Genres Class at SBCC. During the final act of the film when Jamie Lee Curtis is being chased by Michael Myers she gains possession of the killer’s knife 3 times and each time she drops it to the floor within Michael’s reach, causing everyone in the audience to let out a collective moan of extreme frustration. The frustration of all 50 of us combined pales in comparison to the way one person will feel after watching just 5 minutes of Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award Winning documentary Inside Job

Narrated by Matt Damon and featuring interviews with numerous economic experts, politicians and historians, Inside Job details the causes and effects of the 2008 economic collapse and the worldwide recession that we have been living through since.
Told in 5 chronological parts, Inside Job doesn’t go the CNN route and just give us the bullet points, it attempts to clearly present all the details without ever coddling the viewer or attempting to insult one’s intelligence. The facts flow through this film like a fast paced college lecture and in two short hours the viewer is given a concise idea of what caused the worst economic failure since The Great Depression.

It became clear early in the film why this won the Best Documentary Oscar. Technically, its editing, cinematography and direction are outstanding. Ferguson’s hard but honest interview style not only extracts the facts from the many interviewees, it also elicits amazing moments of guilt and humor. There are multiple occasions where his interviewees become hostile against him. The pacing of the film is fast but never too much to handle. And without turning this into a political argument, I will say the balance of facts and “shock value” are almost enough to start a revolution.

At this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival Directors Panel, Mr. Ferguson was given a greater applause than any of the other directors present (including the future Best Director Winner Tom Hooper). I didn’t understand why this man who has only made one other film was being given so much credit, but after seeing Inside Job I am deeply regretting not getting on my feet and clapping with the lot of them.

Warning: This is definitely not a popcorn movie. If you are having a bad day, chances are Inside Job will make it worse. Be prepared to be angry but more importantly, be prepared to be informed.

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