The Smartest Guy in the Room


In many ways, Michael Moore and Charles Ferguson (director of No End In Sight and Inside Job) can be considered companion filmmakers. Both play important and very different roles in shaping documentaries and making them as vital as this art form can be. Michael Moore can be considered the father of the modern documentary; it is almost solely thanks to him that documentaries get any kind of noticeable cinematic release and recognition. He has made four of the six highest grossing documentaries of all time, and he serves as a perfect entry point into examination of the issues he is passionate about. But his pantomime performances and humour, while being contributing factors to his popularity, make it far too easy to dismiss his points. It is impossible to maintain intellectual integrity while running into banks asking for the nation’s money back. By contrast Charles Ferguson may seem dour and serious, but it is his examination of events that really resonates. If Moore can be credited with getting documentaries a wider audience, then it is Ferguson who really shows why they deserve one.

Inside Job tracks the events leading up to the current financial crisis and the resultant fallout. Very few people truly understand what happened, and it is not in the interests of many that do to make it clearer. Inside Job manages to convey its message perfectly and clearly without ever appearing patronising. It methodically goes through and explains concepts that are often parroted but are usually meaningless to the general public, such as securitization, credit-default swaps and CDOs.

One of Ferguson’s main strengths aside from his storytelling is his interviewing. While there are notable absences from the film, he generates maximum value from those he has, asking intelligent and searing questions. Nobody is given a free ride. A particularly interesting issue approached in the last half hour is the corruption of academics, and many of those he assembles clearly do not expect to be cross-examined for their possible implications.

Inside Job is a shining example not just of its genre but of all films. It has the capacity to educate, to enlighten, to sadden and to finally infuriate. It has the potential to change the world. Watch it.

5 stars