Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/South Africa, 2012. ARTE, British Broadcasting Corporation, Danmarks Radio, Democracy Pictures, ITVS International, Jigsaw Productions, NHK, Norsk Rikskringkasting, Steps International, Sveriges Television, The Open University, Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep, Yleisradio, ZDF/Arte. Screenplay by Alex Gibney, Chad Beck, Adam Bolt. Cinematography by Ronan Killeen, Lisa Rinzler. Produced by Blair Foster. Music by Peter Nashel. Film Editing by Erin Barnett, Chad Beck, Adam Bolt.
Alex Gibney takes a look at income inequality in America and the road it has taken since the corporate boom of the sixties; he uses as his central example the famed Manhattan street where a number of the richest people live, a road that travels up the island and continues through the Bronx into one of the country’s most economically oppressed districts. What we learn in a sixty-minute film, jam-packed with fascinating information and narrated by Gibney himself, is that while America has always used a system of capitalism benefiting its haves and endured by its have-nots, the ratio between one and the other has vastly grown over time thanks to maneuvers beginning in the Reagan era to cut taxes for the wealthy. The can-do attitude encouraged by fans of trickle-down economics is actually a series of efforts made by self-interested parties influencing policy to help keep tax money in their pockets and, as a result, there is far less spending being made on an economy that could benefit the lives of everyone else. The popularity of libertarians, the sudden resurgence of adoration for the writings of Ayn Rand and the political sway of the likes of the Koch Brothers are among the many factors that Gibney highlights, bringing his investigations back to 740 Park Avenue, the famed building that houses the apartments of the country’s richest billionaires. Made during Obama’s presidency, the film when viewed years later is a handy reminder that Trump-era politics are not the cause of the current climate of economic oppression but the result of it having been given too much free reign for too long. Gibney is, as always, as charismatic a showman as he is astute an educator, putting information in a manner that is enlightening and thought-provoking while also dazzling the eye with his visual style of presenting information.