★ ★ ★ ★
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to see this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature, Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job. The film deals with the events and practices that lead to the economic crisis of 2008-2009 that we are still recovering from.
First and foremost when I watch a documentary, I am interested in how well the film presents the information on the topic it is focusing on. The shady practices of Wall Street and our capitalist system were presented in great detail in this film from the beginning of Iceland’s financial collapse all the way to our present situations. Secondly, I watch for how entertaining this educational material is to actually watch and the film’s ability to keep a viewer engaged with the material. It seems the filmmakers of this film borrowed a bit from Michael Moore with some of the “shock and awe” ways of presenting information and the fun, tongue-in-cheek musical selections interspersed throughout (including Big Time by Peter Gabriel and New York Groove by Ace Frehley). Some audiences don’t like this approach to a documentary and prefer a straighter, less enhanced presentation of material, but for me personally, I think it helps create a stronger impact and keeps the watchability at a high.
Technically, the film looked great. It was shot on the RED One digital cinema camera in 4k mode, so the resolution and dynamic range of the interview sequences are quite high for a documentary. A lot of the “run and gun” segments were shot on the Sony EX-1 which still retains a high visual quality, but not to the level that the beautiful sweeping intro shots of Iceland are on the RED One. As previously mentioned, I really loved the musical picks they decided to use throughout the film and many of the montage sequences had a nice, machine gun paced editing flow that keeps true to the music video age documentary style we have become accustomed to in the last 10 to 15 years.
Without getting too political in the review, the film’s content is hard hitting and definitely ignited a strong response against how our system is currently run. However, I will be honest and admit that I am a liberal and this film was made by liberal filmmakers, so there is a certain level of bias. However, I don’t think anyone could argue after seeing this film that what was happening in our financial markets was right. Essentially, a few super rich decided to take their greed to a new level which, in turn, has collapsed a global economy. If nothing else, I think the film wants the viewer to take away one encompassing theme: that the system as it stands today HAS to be changed. We can’t continue going on in a crippling financial system that, as the Who would say, is “in with the new boss, same as the old boss.”
I haven’t seen many of the other documentaries that came out in 2010, but I can see why the Academy chose this film as the Best Documentary Feature this year. It’s not perfect and not the best documentary I’ve ever seen, but it’s a good, solid film that deals with a subject that is probably the single most important topic of our time in relation to global tranquility.