Dir. Jim Bruce
Review By Greg Klymkiw
I love watching movies about high finance, banks, the stock market and other money-related issues because, frankly, I really don't know anything about them beyond the fact that they all exist and in one way or another affect me. My favourite documentaries, like Chasing Madoff, Inside Job and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room somehow manage to make most of the messy maze clear to me because they basically place an accent on the more disreputable and downright criminal activities and finally, prove all I really need to know which is this: anyone who really gets this stuff has got to be a scumbag since they're really the only ones who gain from this knowledge. Then, there's Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story or Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott's The Corporation which not only provide basic understanding of financing and corporate scumbaggery, but do so in especially delightful and entertainingly inflammatory ways.
As for dramas, I'm pretty happy to cite The Wolf of Wall Street and just leave it at that.
I was really looking forward to seeing Money For Nothing: Inside The Federal Reserve because, though I've heard about the Federal Reserve or, "The Fed" as it's commonly referred to, I will admit to having no fucking idea what it really was until I saw this movie.
For its first half, the movie is purty durn' tootin' innerestin' since it clearly explains what the Federal Reserve actually is (and by extension and osmosis, it explained a bit closer to home what the Bank of Canada is - again, I keep hearing about it, but never bothered to figure out what it was). The Fed is the entity that prints America's money, ties it to precious metals and provides the gold standard, as it were, for the rest of the world to value its currency upon.
Good. Now I know.
The movie also delivers some reasonably helpful information about the actual history of contemporary currency and the Fed's place in all that. This too, I found extremely interesting and engaging.
Unfortunately, as the movie progresses and starts to chart more recent historical events and delves into the minutiae of economics, I must confess I started to get completely lost and this, sadly, is where the movie kind of falls flat on its face. The pacing begins to lag considerably and I felt that I was just trudging through the last half of the film - not really getting much of anything. Basically, I really had no idea what in the hell was going on and the movie did nothing to clear that up for this fella.
If the goal was to eventually take something that, to a complete and utter financial know-nothing seemed very clear and simple, and to then boggle me with so many details and permutations that virtually nothing made sense, then director Jim Bruce did a crackerjack job.
That, I don't think was the intent, though and what we're finally left with is a simple, solid and engaging 40-or-so minutes and then a thoroughly confusing and, frankly, rather dull final 40-minutes-or-so.
About the best I was able to take away from the whole affair was something I already knew: anyone who really understands this stuff has surely got to be amongst the biggest scumbags on the face of the earth.
"Money For Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve" is in limited theatrical release via Kinosmith and begins its life at Toronto's Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.