Monday, May 16, 2011

Matt Damon Schools Wall Street, and the White House... in "Inside Job"

With the DVD release of Inside Job, the Oscar-winning doc that clearly lays out the players and the scheme that led to the 2008 market crash and massive bank failure, Hollywood sends a message to Wall Street, and the White House.

That film, narrated by Matt Damon, gives new insight into Obama’s jab at Damon in the President's recent speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner. The address, loaded with jokes about the birth certificate circus, pointedly addressed to Trump (who was in the audience) also landed a barb at Damon: “I've even let down my key core constituency: movie stars. Just the other day, Matt Damon -- I love Matt Damon, love the guy -- Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance," Obama told the crowd. His retort: "Well, Matt, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau, so...right back atcha, buddy."

But after seeing Inside Job, viewers will be doubtful that it's The Adjustment Bureau that has galled the President.

The actor’s comment on CNN that “Obama has misinterpreted his mandate” takes on a new meaning with the broad release of this tell-all doc. In fact, after seeing the film, one wonders if Matt was softening his real sentiments. Indeed, producer Charles Ferguson began his Academy Award acceptance speech with the comment that three years after the world’s worst financial meltdown, “not a single financial executive has gone to jail.”

Compare that to the S&L disaster in the late 80s when 1,500 bankers went to jail.

But, beyond that, the White House has given jobs to some of the most egregious perpetrators of the banking disaster – and placed or retained some in regulatory positions for which they have clearly demonstrated their unfitness; the film leaves no doubt about that.

Damon, a strong Obama supporter, has appeared remorseful at having to relinquish his hope. With Inside Job, we get a very skillful telling of an economic story that is really, in the final analysis, a bank heist, as Ferguson tells us: "It is not so technical that average people cannot understand it. It was simple. It was a bank robbery - not committed by someone who walked into the bank but by the president of the bank."

It is hard to watch this doc and not to hope – more than anything else - for some criminal indictments.