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Best Served Cold

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Opening in Iceland (waterfalls, volcanoes, people yelling they’ve been duped), the film traces the crusade to deregulate, leading banks to reward risk, however insane. Many of those who warned of dire consequences show up (understandably) to say “No one listened,” while the major scoundrels behind the bad loans didn’t deign (or dare) to be interviewed. That means no Richard Fuld of Lehman ¬Brothers or Joseph Cassano of AIG. Also, no Randians like Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, and, of course, Alan Greenspan. Wrong Way Corrigans who do appear, accustomed to the company of their own kind, prove shockingly inept at accounting for their actions. Former Federal Reserve governor Frederic Mishkin claims he left at the height of the crisis to “finish a textbook” (swell timing), and his 2006 testament to Iceland’s financial stability mysteriously appears on his CV as a report on its “instability.” (“A typo,” he says.) But it’s Columbia Business School dean and Bush-tax-cut architect Glenn Hubbard who steals the picture. Pressed on apparent conflicts of interest, he drops his Dr. Jekyll manner and sneers, “You have a few more minutes … Give it your best shot.”

You say Inside Job is a bit like a classroom documentary? It’s a class you need to take. You won’t be bored—you’ll be seething too much. The bad guys devastated millions of lives, made staggering fortunes that remain intact, and got away clean. And are still writing the laws. Be very afraid.

The Social Network
Columbia Pictures. PG-13.

Let Me In
Overture Films. R.

Inside Job
Sony Pictures Classics. PG-13.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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