Three new pages at Civil Pleasures:
¶ This week’s Book Review review, “The Ideological Divide.”
¶ Gotham Diary: “Gravity.”
¶ Friday Movie: Inside Job.
A word about Inside Job: I did not see the point in reviewing this powerful documentary as a film. I saw it with a film student, a cousin of Kathleen’s, who came away shrugging: Charles Ferguson has captured a horrible mess, but what can we do about it? I thought I’d write about that instead. What we can do right away is to learn how to think about what kind of failure(s) made the derivatives disaster possible.
But there was one thing about the film qua film that bothered me: all those pretty aerial shots of Manhattan! The stately homes of England are no more kempt than the placid bed of towers that we see from every angle. At one point, the East River is captured in sheet-of-glass mode, between tides. New York neverlooks lovelier than when you can’t see any people!
What was all that about? Was Mr Ferguson suggesting that Manhattan is a garden, sedulously tended by angels in the employ of plutocratic bankers who don’t care how broken the rest of the country is?
Who experiences New York City from the aerial point of view? Not New Yorkers themselves; you can’t get from A to B, even in a Town Car, without a little streetside friction.
Long before the end of Inside Job, the bird’s-eye views were making me wince. New York may well be the capital of the “financial industry” (an oxymoron on steroids), but there is a great deal more to this town than that. If Charles Ferguson wants his viewers to share his animus for Gotham, then he ought to make his request explicit. As it is, Inside Job indulges in urban abuse.