Inside Job

Inside Job PosterRating: ★★★★★

In September of 2008, we witnessed the collapse of companies, the loss of jobs, and the downfall of the worldwide economy. What we didn’t witness, however, is how a few businessmen earned hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of it. We were told that this economic crisis was an unpleasant accident, but no. Turns out, we are at a time where the idea of bankrupting countless of families to the point of homelessness is a feasible option as long as it generates a profit.

“Inside Job” is a hard-hitting, eye-opening, rage-inducing documentary that meticulously informs us how the entire world was screwed over by the giants of Wall Street. The movie points its fingers to the, excuse me… thieves… responsible for the recent economic crisis. Most of us were affected. Many of us are still recovering. Who knows? Maybe a few of us hit rock bottom and stayed there.

And for what cost? A short montage in the movie shows the vast kingdom these businessmen enjoy. They have bought more than enough mansions to make Oprah scratch her head. To spot them not wearing an expensive suit is just about as shocking as seeing me wear one. After being made aware of how rich these bastards really are, we stop looking for reasonable explanations behind their criminal actions. I think one of them just wanted an 8th private jet.

“Inside Job” reveals that the fuse of the “ticking time bomb” was lit in the early 2000’s, when banks started to lend mortgages more frequently and without concern if the customer could repay or not. It was elaborated that investment banks found another way to make more money in less the time. This process was far more dangerous, but they didn’t care. These investors were gambling the money of their customers. They were risking billions of dollars they didn’t even own, and when markets started to tremble, it was the average citizen who suffered the loss.

Inside Job

if you happen to see these men, do not trust them with your money.

When the Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in September of 2008, its CEO, Richard Fuld, was rewarded with 480 million dollars… as a bonus. It was the regular employees who felt the fall. This was also true to other companies, where its leaders became rich-er in the expense of ordinary and struggling families. It’s discouraging, I’m sure, to discover that the mortgage you first recognized as a blessing was, in the end, a part of a rich man’s scheme to empty your wallet so his could weigh just a little bit more.

Writer, producer, and director Charles Ferguson is highly equipped with documents, stock videos, and statistics. He speaks with some of the people who did much to cause and did nothing to prevent the economic crisis. Most of “Inside Job” will indeed cause anger, but it has a few delightful moments. Such moments are the interviews where guilty men confess not with words, but with the blank look their faces emit when they realize that the truth has a way of confronting them, on camera.

Along with “The Social Network”, “Inside Job” is the most important film of 2010. Both shows an accurate depiction of how much this generation has changed over the years. Approach with caution the men in suits who shake our hands, for they can be a better thief than those who break into our homes. Many of these men were not punished for their actions. They are still in power, and will not stop until they own their 9th private jet.

Man on Wire

Man on Wire PosterRating: ★★★★½

I look at the movie’s poster and instantly notice a man whose life is dependent upon that thin, almost invisible wire. That man is Philippe Petit, and on August 7, 1974, he was arrested for trespassing. More specifically, he walked, knelt, and danced on a wire he and his friends connected between the Twin Towers. I have a curiosity for extraordinary human feats and a phobia for heights, and the sight of Mr. Petit on that wire was one of the most beautiful and freighting things I have ever seen.

I think that it’s obvious that he succeeded since you cannot arrest a dead man. We all know that what he did was truly remarkable but what confounds many is his reason in doing it. Before I saw “Man on Wire”, I stared at the poster, wondering what type of individual would do this, to risk a life so much that a wrong step could end it. Crazy was the word I thought of that would describe it the best, and then I watched the movie.

“Man on Wire” is the movie where Philippe Petit, accompanied by great direction from James Marsh, explains the events and the ambitions that ultimately led to that memorable day. Early on, we learn that Philippe wanted to “conquer” those Towers when he was still very young. During my childhood, I went from wanting to become a doctor, to a herpetologist, to an actor. Now, I’m reviewing movies. Philippe stuck with his dream, convinced that it was even his destiny. He grew older and became more enthusiastic and optimistic with his goal, which is quite extreme since it was very much illegal and not even constructed yet at the time.

Philippe Petit

Being a documentary, there a lot of testimonies from the people involved on that 7th of August. But it was the testimony of Philippe himself that intrigued and amused me the most. Intrigued by his philosophies in life on how each day could be made exciting, on when the event of death can be classified as a great death. Amused by how much energy and zeal he exerts in sharing his story. He recalls the days and moments of how he and his friends were able to get to the top of those towers. His face and voice so lively all the time. He even acts out some of the most crucial moments of his adventure.

Philippe doesn’t just tell a story; he performs it. In fact, his testimony was so flawless that it even served a narration in the first person perspective during the scenes of reenactment.

The more of Philippe I got to know, the more I understood him and his lifestyle. Eventually in the movie, we arrive to the day featured in the poster. This time, I didn’t just see a man on a wire, I saw Philippe Petit, and things didn’t look so crazy anymore.

Catfish

Rating: ★★★★☆

Was it staged? Was it scripted? Was it re-enacted? Is it real? Is it fake? Is it a mixture of both? Would it be ironic if the makers of this film employed the same tactics as their subject by presenting us with something that isn’t entirely what we were hoping for? The only people who know the absolute truth to these questions are those who are directly involved in its production, and I will leave it at that.

Surely, many have their theories and opinions regarding its authenticity. That includes me, but to dwell on that subject primarily would be a waste, for there are many things about “Catfish” that we can be sure of. What we have here is an example of exploitation of the Internet. Have you ever been stalked, or even worse, spammed, on Facebook? This is creepier.

Nev Schulman is a photographer in New York who lives with his two best friends, who are filmmakers. In late 2007, Nev discovers that a little girl from Michigan, named Abby, has been drawing paintings of Nev’s photos. Because they are far apart, they communicate through the Internet. Nev gets to know Abby’s mother, Angela, and her 19-year-old sister, Megan. Soon enough, a long-distance relationship is formed between Nev and Megan, and they long for each other’s company. Can we, in some way, relate to Nev? How many of our Facebook do we really know?

Megan’s existence later becomes doubtful to Nev, and with rolling cameras, he and his friends investigate. I can only tell you that they will find something. But, once found, the truth itself is not completely shocking, but rather it is how these people respond to each other that cause interest. What kind of people would go to such an extent to be able to do what they did? Why did they do it? If real, why did the cameras keep rolling? If fake, why tell it at all?

There is one person in “Catfish” that is a voice for many of us. The revelation of this person’s motivations within the social networking world will cause us to question our own. How do we use these advantages, and why? Can we accomplish things in the cyber world that we failed at in this life? I think it depends on the goal, but for some, the mere illusion of accomplishment is enough, and that gives them security, or a hobby, or a lover. (And what about the filmmakers? Did they continue filming because they wanted this person’s voice to be heard, or did they just wanted footage?)

We can ask so many questions about “Catfish”, (Is it REAL?!), but the only answers we can find are those we can relate to ourselves. One day, maybe later, you will have a friend request. Now ask yourself, “Do I really know this person?”