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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Inside Job
Inside Job
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // March 8, 2011
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Preston Jones | posted February 26, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie

If your blood isn't boiling by the time writer-director Charles Ferguson's Inside Job draws to a close, you might want to make sure you're still alive. Much as he did with the deliberate American entanglement in Iraq in 2007's No End in Sight, Ferguson applies a bloodless, almost forensic sensibility to an issue that can polarize people in a heartbeat. Rather than fall back on bluster and rhetoric, Ferguson coolly assembles a devastating case, culled from fact instead of opinion (although it is offered, in the form of third-party interviews). The results are often as maddening as they are insightful, as Ferguson endeavors to round up everyone complicit in the sprawling catastrophe, even reaching back to the '80s and the financial markets' initial deregulation.

At its core, Inside Job endeavors to chronicle the on-going financial crisis and, particularly, its harrowing days in the fall of 2008, when it appeared the global financial industry might be sailing off a cliff into oblivion. (By way of explication - and as a cautionary tale - Ferguson opens and closes Inside Job with a brief look at Iceland, a country that tried to embrace American-style banking and paid an extraordinary price.)

The cumulative impact resulted in losses of $20 trillion, millions of homes and jobs lost and the worst recession in America since the Great Depression. It's a dense, academic topic, far more reliant on data and financial instruments than the run-up to war, which, by comparison, is fairly black and white; kudos to Ferguson, however, for making such a byzantine event in our history so relatable and, most surprising, relatively un-complicated. Even if you don't know a "credit default swap" from an "underwater mortgage," you'll be able to easily follow Inside Job's narrative.

Although Ferguson lands interviews with a few key players in the George W. Bush administration (upon whose watch this crisis began coming to a head) and watchdogs like former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, many of the bigger fish elect to stay away from Ferguson's probing, often incredulous camera. Those academics whose words clearly do not back up their actions - there's a stunning sequence near the film's conclusion, as the dean of Columbia's business school, Glenn Hubbard, shifts from cordial to indignant in a damning display of defensiveness: "Give it your best shot." - are left stammering by Ferguson's lucid lines of questioning (the phrase "hoisted by one's own petard" comes to mind).

But Ferguson also delves into some of the psychological reasons behind some top executives' actions, exploring the netherworld of power. Taken together, Inside Job is a fascinating, absorbing and - yes - infuriating portrait of absolute power corrupting absolutely. What's most chilling, Ferguson seems to suggest as the film draws to a close, is that we, the people, haven't really learned from this brink-of-disaster experience. We're still digging out from under the near-total collapse of the American financial sector, yet the possibility exists that it could happen all over again. That makes Inside Job as horrifying as it is revelatory.

The DVD

The Video:

Inside Job arrives on DVD with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given its status as a recently filmed production, the image looks nearly flawless, with no discernible defects distracting from the overall presentation. Colors are vivid and well-saturated; the image looks crisp throughout, highlighting directors of photography Svetlana Cvetko and Kalyanee Mam's stylish work. The seamy, troubling subject matter is met with slick, glossy visuals; Inside Job looks great, as it makes you froth at the mouth with rage.

The Audio:

Given Inside Job's documentary nature, there isn't a great deal for the English, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack to do beyond convey reams of information with no distortion, drop-out or other significant aural flaw. To that end, the track accomplishes its goal, delivering Matt Damon's faintly wry narration with no issues, as well as briefly bursting to robust life whenever one of Ferguson's ironically chosen pop songs floods the soundtrack. Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are included.

The Extras:

The dense nature of Inside Job may leave some wondering why the supplemental material doesn't dig deeper into the minutiae of the financial crisis, but what is included gives some further idea just how sprawling the impact of this crisis was and is. Ferguson sits for a commentary track with producer Audrey Marrs; the pair discusses the nuts and bolts of not only getting some of the gorgeous shots contained within the film, but also how they worked to structure the film and make inherently dry material visually interesting and dramatically compelling. Nine deleted scenes are included, presented in anamorphic widescreen. These are effectively excised interviews with Charles Morris (five minutes, 22 seconds), Dominique Strauss-Khan (seven minutes, 37 seconds), Eliot Spitzer (eight minutes, five seconds), Gillian Tett (four minutes, 36 seconds), Jerome Fons (two minutes, 41 seconds), Lee Hsien Loong (one minute, 49 seconds), Satyajit Das (nine minutes, two seconds), Simon Johnson (one minute, 38 seconds) and Yves Smith (three minutes, 46 seconds). The 12-minute, 32 second featurette "Behind the Heist: The Making of 'Inside Job'" (presented in anamorphic widescreen) goes into some detail about the making of the film, but is more of a general overview. The film's theatrical trailer (presented in anamorphic widescreen) completes the disc.

Final Thoughts:

If your blood isn't boiling by the time writer-director Charles Ferguson's Inside Job draws to a close, you might want to make sure you're still alive. Much as he did with the deliberate American entanglement in Iraq in 2007's No End in Sight, Ferguson applies a bloodless, almost forensic sensibility to an issue that can polarize people in a heartbeat. Rather than fall back on bluster and rhetoric, Ferguson coolly assembles a devastating case, culled from fact instead of opinion (although it is offered, in the form of third-party interviews). Taken together, Inside Job is a fascinating, absorbing and - yes - infuriating portrait of absolute power corrupting absolutely. What's most chilling, Ferguson seems to suggest as the film draws to a close, is that we, the people, haven't really learned from this brink-of-disaster experience. We're still digging out from under the near-total collapse of the American financial sector, yet the possibility exists that it could happen all over again. That makes Inside Job as horrifying as it is revelatory. Highly recommended.

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