Films on Economy

Were Not Broke

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 20m. In this searing exposé, filmmakers explore the discontent of activists fed up with a government that allows U.S. corporations to skip out on paying their fair share of taxes. Many make billions in profits but pay $0 in taxes, leaving consumers to shoulder the brunt of a great recession. See Full Review

Death by China

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 19m. This frank documentary chronicles the growing power and global ambitions of China, and concludes that its strength threatens America’s own future. Starting with the agreement in 2001 which allowed China into the World Trade Organization, this movie recounts trends to the present. This is an excellent, frank look at China’s unethical business practices since joining the WTO. It makes some valid points about the negative effects that our trade agreements with China have had. Much of the film is about the manner in which multi-national corporations headquartered in the US exploited free trade agreements for their own short term interests, at the expense of the greater good for the US economy. The documentary makes it clear that the multinationals coupled with their successful lobbying groups have made it easier to move our manufacturing to China.  See Full Review

Inequality for All

Documentary 2013 PG 1hr 30m. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich makes a compelling case about the serious crisis the U.S. faces due to the widening economic gap. This film is entertaining, but it also educates. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in years.

Detropia

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 26m.  As the focus of this sobering documentary, the decline of Detroit also reflects the nation’s larger failure to keep up in a modern global economy. The film also examines the efforts of its residents to maintain Detroit’s vibrant cultural base.

Money for Nothing:
Inside the Federal Reserve

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr43m.  Focusing on the nation’s 2008 financial meltdown, this sober documentary looks at the role the Federal Reserve played in igniting the crisis.  I found this documentary to be informative and well-made especially for those who know nothing about why the Fed exists and what it does. Unfortunately, most Americans have no understanding of the Fed, which is why it can get away with what it does.  This film makes an effort to explain what the Fed is, where it came from, what it has done mostly since the early 1990’s up to about 2013, including the “DOT.COM” bubble of 2000, and the housing and stock market melt-down leading to the Fall in 2008.  I found it to be mostly factual, having lived though those periods and seen the results. It is not kind to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke nor to Alan Greenspan.  This is a pretty harsh indictment of Greenspan’s decisions from the late nineties to the end of his term, and those of Bernanke at the beginning of his term. The economy’s problems are not so much due to the existence of the Fed, but rather to the decisions made by these omnipotent Fed chairmen. This is a thoughtful documentary, well produced, and is well worth seeing. The closing remarks on where the U.S. may be headed should be viewed and thought about by everybody who has a $ at stake.  The Fed will work to keep asset prices inflated so the rich don’t lose any money, and everybody else gets stuck paying the bills. It’s called socializing risk and privatizing profit.  I highly recommend watching even more honest appraisals of what the Fed is and has wrought. On Netflix, Ethos is OK, but to get a harder look you have go to some top doumentary films site and check out “The Money Masters”, “The Monopoly Men”, “Fiat Empire”, “Money as Debt”, “The Century of Enslavement”, The Creature From Jeckll Island” and a host of others not shy about taking swings at the Federal Reserve.

Too Big to Fail

Documentary 2011 TV-MA 98 minutes. Based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s best-selling nonfiction book about the 2008 financial crisis, this HBO original movie portrays the players and processes that contributed to the collapse of the U.S. economy and led to a lingering recession.

Inside Job

Documentary 2010 PG-13 108 minutes. Director Charles Ferguson clearly maps out the origins of the global economic meltdown of 2008, how it could have been prevented, how it could have been lessened. This sobering, Oscar-winning documentary presents in comprehensive yet cogent detail the pervasive and deep-rooted corruption that led to the economic crisis of 2008. Through unflinching interviews with key financial insiders, politicos, journalists and academics, Ferguson paints a galling portrait of an unfettered financial system run amok — without accountability. Actor Matt Damon narrates. The analysis is piercing and relentlessly thorough. It lays out the problems with the financial industry, how it effects the entire world, addresses what should be done, and the difficulty getting anything done. “Best documentary I have seen! Impeccably done! I am recommending this to everyone I know. Everyone on the planet should watch this film.” See Full Review

The Flaw

Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 21m. The Flaw is a look at the recession and financial collapse of 2008. This documentary investigates the causes of ruin and includes interviews with noted economists, financial reporters, Wall Street bankers and homeowners on the brink of foreclosure. The film has some pretty good insights, with lucid analytical perspectives of top academics in economics. The economists and hedge fund manager are top rate. The film also interviews an appropriate selection of affected individuals to capture the human dimensions of the crisis. There are some interesting interviews with borrowers who have problems paying their mortgages after the crash, and most don’t portray themselves as victims, but guilty of poor judgment or excessive optimism. See Full Review

The Warning

Documentary Frontline 2009 NR 54m. A detailed look at the roots of America’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, this “Frontline” documentary exposes why government officials refused to regulate emerging derivatives markets that later ruined global financial systems. Director Michael Kirk focuses special attention on the intriguing story of Brooksley Born, the head of a little-known regulatory agency who fought in vain for the increased oversight of derivatives sales.

The Shock Doctrine

Documentary 2009 NR 82 minutes. Taking shock therapy as a metaphor, this investigative documentary explores “disaster capitalism,” in which unstable nations are first jolted by catastrophic events, then subjected to free-market remedies imposed by first-world heavyweights.

Commanding Heights:
The Battle for the World Economy

Documentary 2002 NR 360 minutes. Based on the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, this three-part PBS documentary series is the story of how the new global economy was born. It traces the rise of free markets during the last century, as well as the process of globalization. There are three segments – 1. “The Battle of Ideas” (primarily between Capitalism and Communism);  2. “The Agony of Reform” (after the end of Communism);  3. “The New Rules of the Game” (of Globalization). See Full Review

Surviving Progress

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr. 26m. This bracing documentary considers whether human “progress” stemming from the Industrial Age could be paving the way for civilization’s collapse. The film asks a range of thinkers whether the modern world might be headed for a “progress trap.”

The Company Men

Drama 2010 R 1hr 44m.  This indie drama stars Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, and Ben Affleck as a successful businessman who comes face-to-face with America’s downsizing epidemic when he loses his job and is forced to take a construction gig. What happens when the American dream turns into a nightmare? What do you tell your wife, kids, friends, former colleagues when you are collecting unemployment? Written, directed and produced by John Wells. See Full Review

The Yes Men Fix the World

Documentary 2009 NR 87 minutes. Two didactic pranksters known as the Yes Men — Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno — employ monkey business to highlight the political and economic shenanigans surrounding ecological catastrophes like the 1984 Union Carbide Corporation disaster in India. They pose as spokesman for the Dow Corporation (which took over Union Carbide) and go on live TV apologizing for their role in the incident and pledging to fix the wrong. In this film, the Yes Men go after a collection of corporations who have injured the world in one way or another. They go into corporate meetings and conventions posing as heads of business to expose how greed and instant stock satisfaction destroys lives. See Full Review

Capitalism: A Love Story

Documentary 2009 R 127 minutes. Filmmaker Michael Moore (Sicko, Fahrenheit 9/11) takes on capitalism’s roots, the floundering U.S. economy, and 2008’s global financial meltdown and subsequent bank bailout in this rousing documentary. Combining stories about those who suffer most from Corporate America’s greed and insatiable thirst for profits and the people most responsible for myriad crises, Moore embarks on another shocking fact-finding rampage.

I.O.U.S.A. (IOUSA)

Documentary 2008 PG 85 minutes. With the country’s debt growing out of control, Americans by and large are unaware of the looming financial crisis. This documentary examines several of the ways America can get its economy back on the right track. In addition to looking at the federal deficit and trade deficit, the film also closely explores the challenges of funding national entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Let’s Make Money

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 47m Let’s Make Money is not about how to make money. This film traces money as it goes through the global finance system — exposing policies and practices affecting the worldwide economy. This film is about the billions, trillions of dollars that go to selfish human greed and not to basic human need. This shows the planetary marketplace from all perspectives: wealthy investors, business owners, bankers, laborers, activists, government officials, impoverished people — from all around the globe. See Full Review

Atlas Shrugged

Drama 2011 PG-13 97 minutes. Ayn Rand’s controversial bestseller is the basis for this potent drama about Dagny Taggart, a fiercely independent railroad tycoon determined to use innovative technology and enterprising partners to revive her business, no matter the personal cost. A soap opera set in the world of politics and big business. Taking place in the very near future, this film is very political in nature, reflecting the author’s capitalist views. The acting was good in portraying the various players and their personalities: power greedy politicians and union bosses, clueless public, self centered self serving technocrats and self proclaimed authorities, conservative driver types, fearless independent thinkers. Anyone who is smart, hard-working, and trying to get ahead will understand the frustrations of interference whether it is sourced in the government or the naysayers. Ayn Rand wrote a brilliant novel that used a simple idea, what if the power brokers, intellects, and industrialists of the nation went on strike and stopped their work. This movie has the basic failing of any film which attempts to adapt a complex story, as depicted in a novel, to the limited time-frame of a theatrical release: it can never truly do the story justice.

A Crude Awakening
The Oil Crash

Documentary 2006 NR 83 minutes. In this straight-from-the-headlines documentary, award-winning filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack examine the world’s dependency on oil and the impending chaos that’s sure to follow when the resource finally runs dry.

The Yes Men

Documentary 2003 R 83 minutes. This humorous documentary monitors the exploits of a group of jokester liberals who make names for themselves as they mimic members of the World Trade Organization at various venues across the globe. The absurd facade gets started when two members of The Yes Men create a web site that looks quite similar to the WTO site, resulting in the group being invited to high-level meetings and being mistaken for WTO officials.

Huey Long

Documentary Ken Burns’ America 1985 NR 1hr 30m. The world of American politics has long been peopled with interesting characters — but few of them have been more colorful than Huey P. Long. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns captures the charisma that made Long the people’s politician, the “Kingfish.” This documentary explores Long’s life as a child, his ascent to power and his assassination in 1935.

All the King’s Men (1949)

Docudrama 1949 NR 110 minutes. Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) is a model politician — until he’s corrupted by the very system he tries to reform. Based on the cautionary Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It won Best Picture, as well as Best Actor and Actress for stars Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge (later the voice of the possessed Regan in The Exorcist). Stark’s character is based on Louisiana governor Huey Long.

All the King’s Men (2006)

Docudrama 2006 PG-13 128 minutes. Sean Penn stars as corrupt Southern politician Willie Stark — a charismatic man who wins the populist vote but, behind closed doors, is as underhanded as those he smeared — in this remake of an Oscar-winning 1949 film of the same name. Ex-reporter Jack Burden (Jude Law) unwittingly helps Stark gain political power, but it’s just a matter of time before the governor’s crooked dealings are exposed.

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