Another film about the greed of financial industry? What does this film give us that Michael Moore’s CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY doesn’t? Well, quite a lot actually.
It seems lazy to compare this film by Charles Ferguson to the Michael Moore picture but please bear with me. An earlier picture of Ferguson’s, NO END IN SIGHT which is a searing post mortem of the decisions and mechanics surrounding the US invasion, and subsequent occupation of Iraq could be said to be the serious, more studious cousin of FAHRENHEIT 911. NO END IN SIGHT took $1,431,623 at the box office, FAHRENHEIT 911 grossed $119,194,771 (Source: IMDb)
Michael Moore pulled in $14,359,793 for CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY and as it stands, INSIDE JOB has grossed $3,985,635 to date.
More people are going to see Moore’s flicks. Which is damn shame. People should be viewing both.
The prominent differences between Ferguson and Moore’s work are style and approach. Moore infuses his anger with comedy and his films can be viewed as entertainment. Entertainment with a message but entertainment all the same. Ferguson takes an analytical, clinical look at his subject matter. His talking heads are of an extremely high calibre and give essential gravitas to the work. This IS serious stuff after all and, as much as I can get behind Michael Moore (For his heart is surely in the right place) it’s obvious that this is the type of documentary that will sacrifice the laughs in an attempt to flick a switch within the viewer.
Ferguson does not appear to be subject to the level of backlash Moore experiences. It could be there’s no point lambasting him as he doesn’t have Moore’s popular appeal and is therefore seen as less of a threat, another reason could be that Ferguson’s research and sources are so tight that there’s no point…… because he’s pretty much on the money.
And talking of money……..
This is a film designed to make you angry. Deregulation in the financial markets allowed sharp suited money brokers to gamble on stock fluctuations with YOUR money. Yeah, that’s right. You go out to work, pay your tax, pay your national insurance and bills etc but somewhere, someone you’ve never met is putting your hard earned into sometimes ridiculously risky investments. And if those investments go bad (as they inevitably did) then it’s goodbye to your savings, pension and maybe even your job.
Ferguson focuses on Iceland initially which is a nice analogy as the over borrowing from a once self sufficient stable economy which seduced by the prospect of incredible growth was a key driver in its downfall. This, of course, is the same carrot that was presented to the ordinary consumer. “Buy your own house, watch its valuation rocket, don’t worry if you can afford it or not”
The last point is the detail everyone forgot. If you have someone with a history of bad debt, are they likely to pay a mortgage they can’t afford? And if Wall St and the rest of the world’s markets are neck deep in derivative investments that rely on those debts being paid, what’ll happen when Mr And Mrs Jones, and millions of others decide to give up and have their house repossessed? You know how the story plays out.
It’s all a huge, horrible mess based on greed and unrealistic speculation.
The film is riveting however, whether you come from a financial background or not, mainly because this “crisis” has touched everyone in the civilised world. It’s also pleasing that the flick scooped the Oscar. Well done Mr Ferguson, for the award, and a finely crafted film.