One of the main points of 'Inside Job,' the latest documentary from Oscar-nominee Charles Ferguson ('No End in Sight'), is that all those responsible for the financial meltdown should be put behind bars. And so it's appropriate that the film occasionally feels like a great courtroom drama. Sometimes in negative ways, though, as when the filmmaker, a former software entrepreneur, leads the witnesses -- or interviewees -- aligned to his argument. But when he goes after the bad guys, particularly economic experts Frederic Mishkin and Glenn Hubbard, he's a bold, relentless prosecutor.
I almost wished the camera had panned around to show Spencer Tracy or James Stewart on the other side of the room grilling these men. Yet all we have is Ferguson's voice coming from off screen. And of course, there is no George C. Scott district attorney type (and yes, I understand that I'm slightly reversing the prosecutions and defense roles for this allegory), because this is after all a one-sided work -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- and the audience interested in yet another financial crisis movie is hardly a balanced jury of those alleged wrongdoers' peers.
But as far as preaching to the anti-capitalist choir goes, 'Inside Job' is at least better researched, more informative, more exhaustive and even funnier than Michael Moore's version of the story from last year, 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' Ferguson may be slightly too present this time around, especially for a film that's so, so heavily steered by Matt Damon's narration (close your eyes, it's like listening to the actor voicing an audio book on the subject), but I guess we can be glad he doesn't indulge in silly on-camera shenanigans.