Inside Job (2010)
Audio Commentary-Director Charles Ferguson and Producer Audrey Marrs
Featurette-Making Of-Behind the Heist (12.03)
|Year Of Production||2010|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Charles Ferguson|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The GFC has been the subject of previous films. Last year I reviewed the Michael Moore documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. There was also an excellent series from the BBC that examined the European seeds of the downfall, focusing understandably on the disastrous banking system in Iceland. Michael Moore had not intended to make his film about the GFC but the collapse occurring around him as he made his film provided extra ammunition for his attack on the whole US fiscal system.
At the time I commented that the Moore film was earnest and heartfelt but a little undisciplined in his attack. This may have been due to the Michael Moore "run and gun" style or it may be simply because the events were still unfolding. What is clear, however, is that Charles Ferguson suffers no such indecision or confusion in his film. Whilst Moore comes from a background of Everyman's support for the battler Ferguson is an intellectual; an astute and intelligent critic of US politics and commerce theory. His film No End in Sight was a nominee for a documentary Oscar in 2007 bringing home the awful inevitability of failure in Iraq.
Explaining the whole mess is not an easy task. Even his long-term friend, economist Charles Morris, thought the film would fail due to the abstract concepts at work. Smartly, Ferguson breaks the film down into five parts and takes the time to carefully explain each step along the road to ruin.
Like Michael Moore, Ferguson identifies the start of the Reagan administration as the beginning of the end. The deregulation of the financial sector allowed banks and their risk-taking allies, merchant banks like Lehmann Brothers and Bear Stearns, to expand rapidly into Goliaths with powerful presences in US politics and the freedom to trade risky stocks like derivatives.
The deregulation, Ferguson argues, allowed the banks to put off their risk to the merchant banks who were then able to package up the risks into CDO's (Collateralised Debt Obligations) that could be sold as bundles of debt. Those at the end of the line didn't know what those at the beginning of the line were privy to, namely, that amongst these CDOs were whole swathes of sub-prime mortgages-loans to those people who would never be able to pay back the debt-a ticking, toxic, timebomb capable of bringing down the system. Not only were the banks aware of these hidden dangers but they were clever and cynical enough to insure the risk of failure with the giant insurance company AIG!
Whilst the sub-prime mortgages and CEOs have been the subject of forensic examination in the media before Ferguson takes the whole tale one step deeper and looks into the interrelationship between the leading economists and economics schools of America and the banks. It is a scary story. In a series of bracing and frightening interviews Ferguson talks with some of the leading economists at the top universities in America, people with places amongst the inner echelon of the President, only to find that they are entirely unconcerned at any perception of bias or financial chicanery. In one key moment the head of the Harvard Business School is stopped in his tracks when trying to defend the practice of academics not acknowledging their financial interest in their reports and endorsements of the deregulated banking system. All the while the millions of dollars keep flowing into the universities.
In another interesting step Ferguson interviews some of the academics involved in the rating systems trying to work out why the desperately bad companies and CDO's continued to be rated as financially secure. There are no answers. Those who declined to take part in the documentary were perhaps wise. Ferguson is able to carefully cut through the glibness and lies that have become second nature to the lobbyists.
Inside Job is described by Ferguson as a bank heist movie where the bankers were the ones who carried out the robbery. Whilst rhetoric can often get in the way of genuine reportage it is not hard to feel the blood boiling when the architects of the financial disaster are not only left unpunished but often rewarded with obscenely large bonuses and golden parachutes. Seeing those Americans forced out of their homes in droves at the same time that executives in some of the failed institutions were paid hundreds of millions in bonuses is an obscenity.
Whilst talk of derivatives, CDO's and credit default swap may suggest the potential for glazing over Ferguson is very careful to explain his subject in the clearest terms. A calm, considered voice-over narration from Matt Damon also helps ease the viewer into the subject. That is a crucial step for the thesis of this film is that the deregulation allowed for speculators to indulge in such complex trading that few could really understand what was going on.
But Inside Job is also a depressing film on several levels. Not least of which, as Ferguson remarked when he accepted his Oscar, is the fact that none of the smirking money men have been toppled from their piles of ill-gotten gains level let alone imprisoned for their crimes. An unmissable experience.
Inside Job was shot on the RED Camera in High Definition digital video. It was transferred to film for cinematic showing and screened at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
That ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.
Inside Job is one of the few documentaries displayed in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. In the commentary track with director Ferguson and producer Audrey Marrs, the pair speak openly about their desire to make a documentary that didn't look like a documentary, filled with grainy historical footage and dull interviews. The reason was clear - to try to appeal to the viewers visual sense to avoid the suggestion that this was a worthy but dull project.
That aim has been achieved. The film combines clear, crisp interview footage with accurate flesh tones and archival material that looks freshly scrubbed. The older material obviously doesn't match the new but it is frequently letterboxed rather than cropped to remind the viewer that it is derived from the inferior TV medium.
This is a wonderful looking documentary. A Blu-ray version of the film exists in Region A. That would look even better.
There are Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French (Parisian), German, Hindi, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and Turkish subtitles.
Inside Job features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448Kb/s.
There are a choice of English language and Italian.
The sound is good throughout. There isn't a lot for the surround sound to do as the film largely consists of interviews and voice-over narration but the increased bit-rate of the track does give an extra clarity to the proceedings. The sub-woofer only comes in on a couple of occasions.
Music is by English composer Alex Heffes and gives a suitable solemnity to the horrific events unfolding. There are also a couple of songs thrown in for good measure. Big Time, by Peter Gabriel, accompanies the magnificent title sequence. In the commentary track director and producer talk at length about the difficulty of securing the rights for the song, which eventually cost one-fifth of the budget!
|Surround Channel Use|
I can't recall the last time I heard a commentary track on a documentary DVD. For most documentary filmmakers everything they want to say is on the screen. Nevertheless Ferguson and Marrs provide an entertaining discussion on the film, mainly focussing on the production difficulties and the characters they met, good and not-so-good, during the filmmaking process.
This Making of featurette is a fairly short guide to the production. In fact it really is an indie version of an EPK with Ferguson and a few others interviewed about the process of getting the project onto the big screen. A little lightweight but watchable.
Whether you call these Deleted Scenes or Additional Interview Material is a moot point. Whatever the case, this consists of some quite lengthy interviews with key players in the film, often split into multiple parts. They are:
This DVD has the same features as the Region 1 DVD. Buy the Region 4.
Inside Jobachieves the remarkable task of making complex economic theory understandable if not entirely straightforward. This is a must watch documentary.
The DVD looks and sounds excellent within its obvious limitations.
The extras are not essential but nevertheless a very welcome addition to the package.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|