For those of you who missed previous episodes: You can agree with a documentary’s ideas and still think it’s a bad movie. You can agree with a documentary’s ideas and still think it’s a bad movie. And at the risk of repetition, you can agree with a documentary’s ideas and still think it’s a bad movie.
Political documentaries like Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All are often built around a simple premise: that audience members who are simpatico with the thesis being forwarded will embrace any package in which that thesis is delivered. Here, the topic at hand is wealth and income inequality, focusing on the career and ideas of economist and former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. He’s out to provide a framework for the historic level of disparity between the haves and the have-nots, as well as the potential societal and political consequences of that disparity.
What follows is essentially An Inconvenient Economic Truth, intermingling information about Reich’s own life and career with his lectures on wealth inequality as a professor at Berkeley, plus a few case studies of middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet. And along the way, Reich manages to puncture a few of the beloved Republican talking points on “class warfare,” most significantly the idea that the wealthy are the nation’s “job creators.”
But the stuff that pads the considerable space between those key ideas is a mess, from its unnecessary focus on Reich as crusading teller-of-truth-to-power to the scattershot, confusing presentation of Clinton-era policies as alternately part of the solution and the start of the problem. Inequality for All delivers 20 solid minutes of essential facts and figures that could change the framework of the economic debate, presented by a filmmaker unsure of what to do with the other 70 minutes required to make a feature-length movie.
INEQUALITY FOR ALL