4 Documentaries About Finance To Watch This Season

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We’re based in Cambridge, MA. As the weather gets colder and the temperature begins to drop, it seems our desire to stay in and watch a movie goes up.

Throughout the year I keep track of certain movies, TV shows and documentaries that I hear about and seem interesting. Then, when the temp drops below 20 degrees F, I have an interesting bank of things I already know I want to watch. My list includes everything from box office trillers to British comedy shows, and Netflix original series to documentaries from the financial industry.

popcornPersonally, I’m a huge fan of a good documentary – they’re generally entertaining and informative. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with the opinions presented in a documentary film, I walk away with somewhat of an understanding of current debates, scandals, and events people out there care about. On this note, when considering the list of 4 films below, please remember that documentaries present opinions (financial, political, personal, etc.) that you may not particularly agree with*, but there can still be significant value in watching.

Below, I’ve outlined 4 documentaries about the financial industry I think you’ll find particularly interesting. Consider watching one (or all) this season. To give you an overview, I’ve collected each film’s summary from IMDb.com, critics’ reviews from Metacritic.com, and a link to the film’s trailer. Grab some popcorn and stay warm with these:

i. The Corporation (2003)the-corporation-movie

Since the late 18th century American legal decision that the business corporation organizational model is legally a person, it has become a dominant economic, political and social force around the globe. This film takes an in-depth psychological examination of the organization model through various case studies. What the study illustrates is that in the its behaviour, this type of “person” typically acts like a dangerously destructive psychopath without conscience. Furthermore, we see the profound threat this psychopath has for our world and our future, but also how the people with courage, intelligence and determination can do to stop it.

Metascore: 73%
IMDb Rating: 80%

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Rating: 100 – “It’s coolheaded and incisive, a thorough and informative study of corporations, their origins and their place in the modern world.”

Dan Jolin, Empire
Rating: 80 – “What it covers is so fundamentally relevant, and its polemic so persuasively structured, it’s worth braving the runtime even if it could easily have been more concise.”

Watch the trailer!  http://youtu.be/xa3wyaEe9vE


ii. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

ENRONm Onesheet2q5
Enron dives from the seventh largest US company to bankruptcy in less than a year in this tale told chronologically. The emphasis is on human drama, from suicide to 20,000 people sacked: the personalities of Ken Lay (with Falwellesque rectitude), Jeff Skilling (he of big ideas), Lou Pai (gone with $250 M), and Andy Fastow (the dark prince) dominate. Along the way, we watch Enron game California’s deregulated electricity market, get a free pass from Arthur Andersen (which okays the dubious mark-to-market accounting), use greed to manipulate banks and brokerages (Merrill Lynch fires the analyst who questions Enron’s rise), and hear from both Presidents Bush what great guys these are.

Metascore: 82%
IMDb Rating: 76%

James Greenberg, The Hollywood Reporter
Rating: 90 – “Not only a great cautionary tale, it’s a civics lesson that should be seen by every concerned citizen.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Rating: 80 – “Gives us the same sort of perverse pleasure that’s been a staple of “60 Minutes” over the years — watching world-class crooks tell world-class lies.”

Watch the trailer!  http://youtu.be/1dNZaKLjYbc


iii. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)capitalism-love-story-movie-poster

‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ examines the impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). The film moves from Middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial epicenter in Manhattan. With both humor and outrage, the film explores the question: What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Families pay the price with their jobs, their homes and their savings. Moore goes into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down; and he goes looking for explanations in Washington, DC and elsewhere. What he finds are the all-too-familiar symptoms of a love affair gone astray: lies, abuse, betrayal…and 14,000 jobs being lost every day. Capitalism: A Love Story also presents what a more hopeful future could look like. Who are we and why do we behave the way that we do?

Metascore: 61%
IMDb Rating: 73%

Mike Scott, New Orleans Times
Rating: 100 – “After watching the bailouts, the bank foreclosures and the Bernie Madoffs of the world dominate headlines, Michael Moore is mad as hell, and he’s going to try to make you mad as hell, too.”

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
Rating: 75 – “This lively, infuriating and occasionally moving film certainly leaves you thinking, and there isn’t a dead spot in it. That’s the mark of a real filmmaker, not just a muckraker.”

Watch the trailer! http://youtu.be/JeROnVUADj0


iv. Inside Job (2010)inside-job-movie-poster

‘Inside Job’ provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.

Metascore: 88%
IMDb Rating: 81%

Richard Corliss, Time
Rating: 100 – “This is a true-life heist movie, and the thieves not only got away with their billions, they’re still doing business. Pay attention and blow a gasket.”

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Rating: 88 – “If you think you’ve absorbed all you could about subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and the arcana of elaborate derivatives, think again. Inside Job traces the history of the crisis and its implications with exceptional lucidity, rigor and righteous indignation.”

Watch the trailer!  http://youtu.be/FzrBurlJUNk


Have a recommendation?

Share your suggestion in the comments!

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*Blueleaf, Inc. does not officially endorse these films or the opinions presented in them.

Carolyn is Blueleaf’s in-house marketing guru. She writes on The Blueleaf Blog to make advisors’ lives easier, offering practice management and client engagement tips where and when they’re useful. Outside of the Blueleaf offices, she can be found running a 10k or cooking her famous chili. Chat LIVE with Carolyn on Twitter @BlueleafAdvisor!