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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Finance > White Collar Crime > History > Economy > Client 9 – The Rise & Fall Of Elliott Spitzer (2010/Magnolia Blu-ray + DVD) + Inside Job (2010/Sony DVD) + Kennedy: Robert Kennedy & His Times (1985/TV Mini-Series/Sony DVD)

Client 9 – The Rise & Fall Of Elliott Spitzer (2010/Magnolia Blu-ray + DVD) + Inside Job (2010/Sony DVD) + Kennedy: Robert Kennedy & His Times (1985/TV Mini-Series/Sony DVD)


Picture: C+ (Client DVD: C)     Sound: B- & C+/C+/C     Extras: B/A-/D     Main Programs: B/A-/B-



Part of the reason things have gone so badly in the U.S. is because people have been lied to in such complex ways that they do not understand how bad things are.  Many have operated well into the 1980s as if the good will prior to that was still being practiced by most people in government and business, but that illusion is quickly fading.  Three new releases show us how and remind us about which direction we should be going into.


Alex Gibney’s Client 9 – The Rise & Fall Of Elliott Spitzer (2010) tells the amazing tale of how when Republicans would not regulate Wall Street, one New York politician would and that man was Elliott Spitzer.  Before Obama was elected, he was considered a potential presidential candidate, effectively going after corruption and becoming a hero to some, while the enemy of others.


After some remarkable success, the retaliation silently began and the hunt was on to dig up some dirt on a man who seemed invulnerable, but it turns out he enjoyed having sex outside of his marriage with very expensive hookers and they turned out to be some of the same females Wall Street types were paying top dollar to see.  This excellent work shows us how people who wanted him out of the way politically and financially started to come back at him and eventually succeeded in getting rid of him.


Of course, the huge economic meltdown soon followed and you can see all involved may have had more to hide than Spitzer and the American people could have ever imagined.  It is a remarkable story, but the events are so huge that documentaries like this and Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story (reviewed elsewhere on this site) are not enough to explain it all.


Charles Ferguson (No End In Sight) has created a brilliant documentary with Inside Job (2010), which shows how the big crisis that caused the largest economic U.S. disaster since The Great Depression was caused by massive greed, recklessness and how this was decades in the making.  Mr. Spitzer is even interviewed, but this Academy Award winner for Best Documentary (even with all the amazing competition including the not-nominated Tillman Story) is a brilliantly constructed piece about the bubble that was too big for people to ignore this time when it burst.


We open in Iceland where the banking system and economy was regulated against failure and how the undoing of those standards caused a collapse, which becomes a microcosm and variant of what was ahead for the U.S. and world economy.  This is the most painstaking, boldest expose of what has happened to date with implications that go far beyond its subject.  A financial sector out of control, politicians not acting in the voters best interest, economic and journalistic scholarship trashed, innocent people unaware and extremists all over the place, the most amazing thing about the many interviews is the massive denial so many of the parties (guilty and otherwise) were in throughout to the point that they were on the border of being sociopathic and psychotic if not totally so and you don’t have to have a college degree to understand that.


Matt Damon does an ace of a job narrating and I was constantly amazed on how sharp and pronounced this work was throughout.  It is an all-time classic documentary and is a must-see that also turns out to be one of the best film releases of 2010.  If you don’t see it, you’ll be denying yourself key information that can only help you out and understand what is really going and still going on as you read this.  It is not pretty.  Stunning!



So with all this bad news, I watched the 1985 TV mini-series Kennedy: Robert Kennedy & His Times with a sense of irony.  When you finish watching some of those documentaries, you ask yourself where did we go wrong.  The more bad things happen, the more we realize that the loss of Robert Kennedy changed history for the worst and continues to be a disaster, also proving that (unlike what some Right Wing types try to say) that the Kennedy idea and legacy is built on myth, but this comes from the same people trying to get us to forget FDR.


Brad Davis gives one of the better performances in the title role and let’s face it, playing any Kennedy is very difficult, but he pulls it off and this series traces the family from one triumph and assassination to the final set.  With writing by Walon Green (The Wild Bunch, Friedkin’s Sorcerer) and insider Arthur Schlesinger Jr., it is a good series that holds up pretty well and is a work sadly loss in the blur of the early Reagan Years.  Nice to have it on DVD.


The supporting cast is also really good, including Veronica Cartwright, Ned Beatty, Beatrice Straight, G.D Spradlin, Cliff De Young, Harris Yulin, Joe Pantoliano, Jeffrey Tabor, Jack Warden, Mitch Ryan, Walter Gotell, Jason Bateman, Natalie Gregory, River Phoenix and even Shannen Doherty make this more interesting than your usual TV mini-series.  It is worth your time to catch, including if you had seen it and have not seen it for years.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 image on the Client Blu-ray is such a mix of rough video, low def video and second generation video that it does not look as good as the format would have otherwise allowed it, though the anamorphically enhanced DVD is the most faded-looking of all the releases here.  The anamorphically enhanced image on the Inside Job DVD also has varied shots, but is more consistent throughout since the footage was a little less degraded.  The 1.33 X 1 image on Kennedy was all shot on film and looks good for its age, but can be soft more often than expected and a little inconsistent between episodes.


As for sound, the Client Blu-ray has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix that is the best by default with the warmest sound and most consistent soundfield, though we get plenty of mono, simple stereo and location audio issues as one would expect from such a production.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Client DVD is not as good and on par with the Inside Job DVD (wonder how that sounds on Blu-ray), but the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Kennedy is more constricted and compressed throughout sounding more dated than expected.


Kennedy has no extras, while the rest have feature length audio commentary tracks by their respective directors and Deleted Scenes.  Client adds an HDNet look at the documentary and Extended Interviews, while Inside Job adds a Making Of featurette.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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