Directed by Charles Ferguson
Cornerhouse, 23 February 2011
The best attempt bar only one (the one in question being John Lanchester’s Whoops!) to make sense of the financial crisis that has led to our current economic malaise.
Charles Ferguson’s film (he wrote as well as directed it) presents a solid forensic analysis of the causes and consequences of the collapse, among them deregulation, greed, lax oversight, risk taking which was rewarded when it was successful but not punished when it fell flat. He also speaks directly to many of the significant players, though the really big cheeses chickened out of being interviewed.
It was good to see a few of these guys squeal, mind, among them an academic who, when the shit really hit the fan, felt an urgent need to revise a textbook. Unbelievable. You couldn’t make it up, well maybe Joseph Heller could.
There’s an object lesson for other documentary makers here, too. A sound, super-competent journalist, Ferguson repeatedly shows the advantage of challenging falsehoods with facts rather than polemic. It seems to work very effectively. Can you learn the lesson, Michael Moore?
Unshowy (unless you count Matt Damon’s crisp narrative; I don’t), without gimmicks of any kind, this is nonetheless a devastatingly effective analysis of the banking industry.