Under the Radar?: “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”

20110906-101618.jpg

“In the Titanic, the Captain went down with the ship. In Enron it looks to me like the Captain first gave himself and some friends a bonus, then lowered himself and the top folks down in the lifeboat and then hung it up and said, ‘By the way everything’s going to be just fine.'” – US Senator Byron Dorgan

At the time of its bankruptcy filing in November of 2001, Enron was the largest chapter 11 filing in history. Just one year earlier, the company had reported revenues of over $100 billion. Due to its collapse, Enron shareholders lost some $11 billion. Enron employees lost $1.2 billion in retirement funds, and retirees lost $2 billion in pension funds. 20,000 employees lost their jobs. Arthur Anderson, the nation’s oldest accounting firm and one of the largest accounting firms in the world, was destroyed in its wake. Their complicity in the scandal destroyed their reputation and ruined their business. An additional 85,000 employees nationwide lost their jobs due to their collapse.

“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” is a 2005 documentary by Alex Gibney which details the reckless corporate culture, the terrifying lack of ethics, and the outright fraud involved in one of the most famous corporate scandals in history.

Continue reading

About these ads

Under the Radar?: “Triangle”

Triangle may be one of the most difficult movies I’ve tried to recommend so far.

Not because it’s a difficult movie to champion, quite the contrary, this movie is awesome.

It’s just that… discussing ANY of it can cross into spoiler territory. So how do I put across enough of what’s good about this flick in order to make you want to see it, without ruining any of the juicy goodness when you DO see it?

Continue reading

Under the Radar?: “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father”

I think if you visit this site long enough, and I wind up documenting my relationship with enough films, you’ll find I’m not hesitant at all to admit when a film makes me cry. Hey, that’s to the films credit, right? I mean, a) I’m not Dick Vermeil, it really takes something to get me going and b) If a movie’s sole purpose is to illicit that kind of audience response – if I know it’s a “Tear Jerker”? I stay away. I’m just not interested. Thus, I narrow the field. So in combination, those two things add up to making my crying at movies a rare enough event that I’m not ashamed to admit when it occurs.

So when I tell you that “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” made me cry, I want you to understand this… by cry, I mean I BAWLED. WEEPING is a better word. I was a spastic, blubbering mess.  

And yet, I recommend it to you VERY highly. Read on to hear why.

Continue reading

Under the Radar: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

20110808-114456.jpg

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” is a 2010 documentary which begins with an exploration of the world of street art. Eventually, it makes a number of statements about the permanence of art, the commercialization of it, what makes art “good” or at least worthwhile…

Along the way, it will have you wondering if it’s on the level.

Continue reading

Under the Radar?: “Anvil: The Story of Anvil”

“Anvil: The Story of Anvil” is a 2008 documentary film by Sacha Gervasi. It tells the story of – you guessed it – Anvil.

Anvil is a Canadian heavy metal band formed in 1973 by then high school friends Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner. Together they took the band to a certain level of success in the early to mid 1980s, tantalizingly close to the top of the Heavy Metal music scene. Their major breakthrough and the accompanying fame and fortune eluded them however.

They never really “Made it Big”.

Continue reading

Under the Radar?: “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

“May you be in heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”

“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” is a 2007 film about a pair of brothers who decide to rob their parents’ Jewelry Store, to disastrous consequences.

It stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marissa Tormei and Albert Finney.

Hoffman stars as an accounting executive with a drug problem who has been embezzling money from the company he works for. In anticipation of an upcoming audit, he proposes the robbery to his brother, who is also financially strapped. Their plan is to go at a time when they know the part time help will be working the counter, and not their parents. They won’t even have to use a real gun. Their parents have insurance, so they’ll be compensated for their losses. No one loses….

At least in theory.

Continue reading

Under the Radar?: “Catfish”

Catfish is 2010 film which earned a limited release after appearing at the Sundance Film Festival and creating a buzz. It has since earned a release on DVD and Blu Ray, and I managed to snag it in my DVR queue as it’s currently showing on Cinemax.

The film is purportedly a documentary, but there has been much debate as to the authenticity of that claim.

I have to admit, I’m skeptical myself.

Continue reading

Under the Radar?: “Moon”

“The finger can point to the moon’s location.

However, the finger is not the moon.

To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger.”

                                                                          - Buddhist Parable

Please allow me to point out “Moon” for you. I hope you won’t settle for reading this, but will actually see this movie. I promise you will find it rewarding.

Continue reading

Under the Radar?: “Monsters”

Welcome to “Under the Radar”, another excuse I’ve made to write about movies which are no longer in the theatre! I’m sure you’re all as excited as I am. In this series, I’ll focus on movies which seem to have fallen between the cracks unjustly. Not a big release, not enough buzz… what ever it is, in my opinion, these flicks seem to be flying “Under the Radar”.

Monsters is a 2010 film set in a world in which aliens have begun to propagate on earth. Years after a satellite collecting space samples crashes, alien life flourishes in Mexico. The rest of the world has walled off the greater part of the country, now referring to it as “The Infected Zone”. When an american tourist and a photo journalist need to make it back into America and have no way to go but through the zone, the two enter the isolated area, accompanied by a small military escort. They hope to make it through “The Zone” on the ground.

Chaos ensues.

Continue reading