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ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM

SYNOPSIS:
For the year 2001, Enron was ranked as the 6th largest corporation in the world, but before the year was out, the company was rocked by scandal as it filed for bankruptcy. Millions of people lost their life savings, and thousands of employees lost their jobs. How did this happen - and why. The company's chief operators, Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay, continued to show a positive face even when the empire was crumbling and they were cashing in on their stock options. But they weren't the only ones responsible.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
More than the anatomy of a corporate collapse, Enron... is a film of tragic proportions, as it sheds light on the venal humanity that led to what is more than a giant corporate fall - a human tragedy. The key players had the seeds of their own demise within their character, and the film's great strength is that it convinces as human drama as well as socio-economic morality tale. The film gains a neatly apt melancholy with the choice of music in the most appropriate places, notably two Ella Fitzgerald items - God Bless The Child [That Has His Own] and That Old Black Magic.

Here is America and capitalism at its most corrupt; morally bankrupt at the individual level, drawing on greed to fuel its survival. The film traces the company's history with a clarity that defies the details, and makes relatively clear how it went wrong. The massaging of the books by creative accounting looks nothing more than it was: bullshit served as burger.

The clear eyed reconstruction begins with a re-enactment - the only one in the film - of a suicide by one of the key players. This is perhaps the only questionable decision by writer/director Alex Gibney, who sticks to reality for the rest of the film: interviews, testimony clips from the Senate hearings, archival and private footage plus generic images, to provide the visual context for this classic tale of greed and vanity destroying its central players - and devastating thousands more.

Probably highly appealing to anti-Americans and anti-capitalists, the film is nevertheless a tribute to the strength of both, by the sheer force of its existence. A society that can hang its dirty laundry out so brazenly is clearly capable of being cleansed - unlike a closed society where corruption is institutionalised by the State and dissent is disallowed.

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room is a gripping and powerful doco that had to made - and luckily for us all in every way, it was made brilliantly.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Documentary featuring Jeff Skilling, Ken Lay, Andrew Fastow, Gray Davis, Peter Elkind, Bethany McLean, Kevin Phillips, Nancy Rapoport,

NARRATION: Peter Coyote

PRODUCER: Alex Gibney, Jason Kliot, Susan Motamed

DIRECTOR: Alex Gibney

SCRIPT: Alex Gibney (based on book by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Maryse Alberti

EDITOR: Alison Ellwood

MUSIC: Matthew Hauser, Marilyn Manson

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 13, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific

VIDEO RELEASE: July 5, 2006







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