Thursday, May 18, 2006

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room opens with some crazy shots of the massive Enron headquarters in Houston. The shots of these skyscrapers are shown to Tom Waits' "What's He Building?" A really nice soundtrack choice - clever, ironic, made me chuckle. But these filmmakers have no restraint. Throughout the movie, there were ironic song choices that pair up oddly with what the film is talking about at that point, and what in one instance, was amusing, by the twentieth time, starts to seem flippant and begins to really annoy me.

The first and one of the best examples that I know of is Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove with bombs dropping to Vera Lynn singing "We'll Meet Again." I have been noticing this technique being employed in lots of documentaries. Obviously, Michael Moore has used some ironic song choices (I am coming up blank right now with examples, but I know that there have been more than a few). Supersize Me, which I watched last week had a few that seemed appropriate, given the flip nature of the film.

But the technique loses its power when every song choice is ironic, when the soundtrack is just this wink-wink thing throughout the whole movie, where everyone is on the joke. Aside from that (which is a pretty major flaw of this movie), this was a really good movie. I do think, though, that the brushstrokes were too wide, that the filmmakers didn't go into the nitty gritty of how the accounting practices worked because they wanted to attract as broad an audience as possible. But that also probably just bothers me because I am finding myself really interested in business practices and the stock market, given that it is all I read about all day.

But again, those are small complaints because it was really an excellent documentary that made me mad as hell at Skilling, Lay, and Fastow. Skilling and Lay's fate are being deliberated by a jury right now. Fingers crossed that they fry! This movie is worth watching just for the audio tapes that the filmmaker gathered of Enron energy investors gleefully talking about the California energy crisis, tapes of them calling plant managers to shut down for a few hours to artifically lower the supply, and then one investor laughing "Burn, baby, burn," during the wildfires. I knew that the California energy crisis was artificial, but seeing all the details about it and how this company intentionally screwed up this state is so scary.

I am drinking coffee and am going to start editing these interviews about the gold market (boring!) from the comfort of my living room with the sun shining outside my window. Yesterday was my last day working on Wall Street. Today and tomorrow they are moving desks and computers, and Monday, I will be in mid-town, and there, will not be able to blare Parliament and work in my shorts. I am going to enjoy these two days.

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