Inside Job [Sony Pictures Classics]
Earlier this year when Inside Job won the Oscar for Best Documentary, its director Charles Ferguson launched into an excoriating speech reminding the crowd that three years after one of the most damaging financial crises in contemporary history not one single person had been charged or sent to prison for the damage inflicted. You could feel portions of the crowd shift in their seats. After watching this you’ll be more than seat shuffling. You’ll be screaming and breaking windows.
Docos unpicking the financial maelstrom that began in 2008 abound, yet there have been remarkably few succinct and digestible explanations of what actually happened. This is one of them. It’s also the best. It tells a complex story (most industry participants have no idea how credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations work) with comparative simplicity, without skimping on detail. It also gained extraordinary access to central players in the global financial community. George Soros, Eliot Spitzer, DSK (!!!) and his successor at the IMF, Christine Lagarde all appear, usually responding with blush-inducing candour. Even though Inside Job is a polemic and plays as an impassioned screed against corporate malfeasance, it highlights that both sides of politics buckled under the lobbying power, walking away from tighter market regulation.
It’s the sort of film that demands repeat viewings. It also fills many gaps in the story; in a series of stunning exchanges it exposes the empty heart of economic academia, laying bare the utter conflict of interest between academics in the pocket of investment banks. It’s impossible not to recoil in horror.
With Greece still in serial default and the US asking for a few trillion more on the Amex card this doco couldn’t be more current. Inside Job deserved its Academy Award. The only problem was it should have won Best Picture as well.