Monday, April 25, 2011

Merchants of Dearth

I can understand why there's a lot of buzz about Inside Job, the "gotcha" documentary about villainous financial titans and their role in the 2008 blow-up. Aside from the obvious fascination with the economic crisis, whose fallout is still with us, the movie benefits from strong production values. It is technically hip in the manner of a feature film.

The thing is shot in hot colors, which adds visual interest to the interviews and background footage. Elliot Spitzer's regimental stripe tie looks like glowing neon; the landscape of bankrupt Iceland is gorgeous. The director or cameraman usually finds striking settings for interviews. (One complaint, though: too many helicopter overhead shots of Manhattan, a cliché.) The sound recording is professional and "movie" music effectively conveys mood.


In addition, computer graphics, especially in the first half, are well designed to help us understand derivatives such as credit default swaps.

Despite all that, I found myself growing increasingly dissatisfied as I watched the DVD. It is obviously targeted at money center bank and regulatory authorities, and persuasively shows their corruption, callousness, and cluelessness in various proportions. But Inside Job is one-sided, a "J'accuse!" that gives too many others a pass.

The film preaches a sort of contemporary version of an idea fashionable in the 1930s -- that the Great War had been caused by armaments manufacturers, war profiteers, "Merchants of Death" like Sir Basil Zaharoff. We are asked to believe that the Great Recession was purely the product of bent financiers, Merchants of (Monetary) Dearth.


Steve Sailer has written about the role of government-promoted diversity in creating the recession and housing debacle. The movie dwells lovingly on the corporate greed and unregulated derivatives that led to millions of home foreclosures, but there was a distinct ideological component to the malfeasance. Both the Stupid Party and the Evil Party, each for their own reasons, were onboard with the flim-flam that enabled hispanics who wouldn't be able to afford their mortgages to "buy" houses with no questions asked.

Even where political correctness wasn't an issue, the housing bubble that grew with the full connivance of the quangos Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac encouraged dementia: serial buying and "flipping" houses to the greater fool purchaser, and draining home equity to support full-tilt boogie materialistic lifestyles. There's a lot of truth in the old saying that you can't cheat an honest man. Plenty of ordinary Americans were just as irresponsible as the Grand Dragons of Goldman Sachs and Countrywide Financial. Inside Job doesn't want to go there. It implies that the buyers were all victims, and we know how much the Left loves victims.


A few words about other recently viewed DVDs


You'd think that it would be impossible to make a dramatically compelling film about Young Mussolini in his Socialist days, the adoring wife he disowned, her years (at least an hour of movie time) in a mental institution, and their son who was taken from her and went mad, punctuated with lots of grainy newsreel footage of a strutting Il Duce.

You'd be right.

The Next Three Days

How about this -- a thriller that actually thrills, and not just with action. A college professor whose wife is falsely (?) convicted of murder is forced to learn the ways of the criminal world to get his wife out of prison and safely away overseas, with the added complication of their young child.

Of course, as with all movies of this sort, there are parts that seem contrived and unbelievable. But at least the story line is comprehensible, which is more than you can say for many films these days. Good acting from Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.


1 comment:

yih said...

Guess I'll add another one: Atlas shrugged. Auster's take on it is pretty much the same as every other review I've seen of it.
Short version: Thumbs down.