“Inside Job” gives documentaries a good name

When most people think of documentaries, they normally imagine dull science videos or History Channel specials. Recent years have also brought a popular trend of nature-based documentaries, which are nowhere near as entertaining as the videos spoofing them.

But a documentary, when done right, can be just as emotionally involving and insightful as a regular feature film.

Photo via Sony Pictures Classics.

Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-nominated “Inside Job” demonstrates that fact perfectly.

The film, narrated by Matt Damon, discusses one of the biggest news stories of the past five years: the economic crisis. The film starts at the end of World War II and travels through decades and decades of time, attempting to piece together what led to this catastrophic meltdown of global proportions.

Easily the most surprising aspect of “Inside Job” is how emotionally invested you become in a movie mainly featuring interviews and graphs.

Don’t let the factual nature of the film confuse you; this is angry cinema. I, as well as the other 10 people in my theater, were quite vocal about the economic atrocities being described on screen. One lady, in fact, continually tsked the people on screen, which is something I didn’t even know people still did.

This isn’t made of dramatic and emotional stunts, though, like a Michael Moore documentary. Charles Ferguson, the director and main interviewer for the documentary, does some of the best economic journalism since Jon Stewart torched the host of “Mad Money” in 2009. When a lobbyist or ex-regulator says something that doesn’t correlate with the facts, Ferguson doesn’t let him off the hook. It’s captivating cinema, yet there’s not a single explosion or psycho ballerina.

For all of the emotions Ferguson creates, however, the movie’s true strengths lie in its educational value. I’m quite sure I sound like a pretentious teacher right there, but honestly, this is the best economics class currently available at working man’s prices. Though the movie throws several definitions and concepts that may seem foreign to economic newbies, such as myself, “Inside Job” does a stellar job of dumbing it down just enough to make it understandable but still informative.

And for those concerned about a political bias, don’t be. Everybody, from the Reagan administration to the Obama administration, gets burned. This isn’t a movie about political agendas; it’s a movie about fixing what’s wrong with the world’s economy.

That’s right, the world. Ferguson’s scope extends past America’s borders and reminds viewers that one ripple in the economy can grow into massively destructive waves.

When most people, especially our age, are looking for a movie to watch, we normally look for something with a lot of big bombastic entertainment. But shouldn’t we get more from our movies?

For many of us, the economy played a gigantic role in our collegiate decisions in the past, as well as in the present, but we still aren’t that educated on its workings. Therefore, I think we owe it to ourselves and to our future to watch “Inside Job.” It may be the most important movie you watch this year.

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