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As the worldwide economic crisis sputters into its third year, a new US documentary film attempts to illuminate how we got here. INSIDE JOB, an insightful investigation into the behind-the-scenes machinations and the in-the-headlines posturing that brought capitalism to its most challenging brink since the Great Depression.

With the meticulous, comprehensive and penetrating style that he used to investigate the Iraq war, the award-winning NO END IN SIGHT, director Craig Ferguson breathes life into the somewhat dry subjects of economics and system reform. There’s a palpable sense of anger from Ferguson, a filmmaker who must have poured though reams and reams of unintelligible figures, pages of dry research papers and really heavy university textbooks in order to understand what happened. As he questions and confronts some of the smartest and craftiest men in the world, he cannily represents our outrage.

Without the polemics that weakened the Michael Moore documentary CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, this film goes far deeper, placing recent developments on Wall Street and around the world in historical perspective. He charts the dangerous course that emphasized unsustainable economic growth while loosening industry regulations.

At the heart of the film is that the American dream, of owning a home, a nice car and sending one's children to college, may have evaporated for good because of the selfishness of individuals and institutions who were trained to be short term thinkers. True criminals aside, it is the whole system that conspired on itself to leave a very few protected while the rest of us suffer from the recklesness and greed of those at the top.

Ferguson has assembled more than three dozen expert exonomists, politicians and scholars who lay out the descent into hell in chillingly detailed accuracy.  The film cues begin early, including the prologue that details the financial collapse of Iceland as a kind of bellweather of what was to come. It’s evident in the opening scenes. As narrated by Matt Damon, Ferguson systematically breaks down all the details of the train wreck by offering a decade by decade analysis of the excesses and wrongheaded decisions that paved the way for that fateful week of September 2008, when the world went bankrupt.

While it is incredibly taxing to understand every detail in INSIDE JOB, the film does paint a woeful picture of human greed and the bottom-line mentality that governs financial and regulatory institutions. When I was growing up, I would often hear that what was good for General Motors was good for the country......but this film encourages us to know better than to trust the (supposedly) smartest men in the room.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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