Brendan Shick | Freelance Film, Broadcast, & Digital Media

4 Must Watch Director’s Commentaries – Even if You’re Not a Film Geek

4 Must Watch Director's Commentaries - Even if You're Not a Film Geek

4 Director's Commentaries for any sensibility or taste! At least one of these will appeal to you...
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Baseball Broadcasts: Behind the Scenes

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Film Review: In Debt We Trust (2006)

Aug 03 2011 by Brendan Shick Add Your Thoughts

I'm planning on spending the next month or so catching up on my Hulu.com queue. That may mean that several reviews pop up on this site soon. None of them will likely be huge blockbusters.

No, this will likely be an assortment of free-to-watch-on-the-internet documentaries. I'm not expecting any of these to be stellar, but some should be at least mildly interesting. The plus side is, if you see a film that interests you, it will only take a quick search to see it yourself.

Poster for In Debt We Trust (2006)Last night, I watched In Debt We Trust (2006), a choice that seemed pertinent given the recent happenings in Washington.

This film, however, focuses not so much on the national debt, but rather the culture of debt created among American consumers.

The first third or so of the program focuses in on the obvious facet: credit cards. Specifically, it deals with how credit cards are marketed to college students in an effort to get them hooked. There is then a brief segment on the national debt before the focus turns to the American economy.

This may be where the profoundest point of the documentary is made. The claim is that the American people and the politicians who serve them don’t realize that the class struggle is no longer between the working man and the factory owner. The economy is no longer based on industry, but on financial markets. Thus, the class struggle today is actually those in debt (the poor and middle-class) versus those who loan the money (primarily those high in the banking and real estate markets).

One interviewee goes so far at to claim that our economy have basically returned to that of Medieval times, where feudalism ruled and serfs were permanently indebted to their lords. The comparison, given the film’s arguments, does not seem that far-fetched.

The last section of the film concludes with other kinds of high interest loans and their effects as well as a discussion of how lobbyists from the financial market affect policy makers in Washington.

The main strength of this film rests in its editing. Interview clips are show mostly without cutting to b-roll shots (those are saved for during the narration), yet the film keeps moving and the pace of conversation is mostly engaging.

On the other hand, I felt that the documentary failed in the sense that it never really said anything profound. Everyone knows that if you take out a line of credit, you’ll almost immediately have high interest rates and get yourself stuck. I wanted the film to end with some sort of call to action or at least to give somewhat of a solution to the issue, but it never really offered a hint of either. It gave a general sense of the problem, but never took a problem solving mindset to the facts.

Overall, this was a decent film if you particularly like documentaries or aren’t aware of how prominent debt is in our culture and want to learn more about this. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth watching.

4/10 Stars


Brendan Shick

Brendan Shick is a freelance DP, gaffer, and sports broadcaster serving primarily the Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Fort Wayne, IN, regions. You can find out more by following this blog, his recent work on Vimeo, or by connecting with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. Brendan is also an occasional contributor to the Project Updates feed for one of his most recent films, To Turn Back Time.


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