The end of March is time for annual fiscal reports in many countries around the world. Companies and corporations submit (hopefully truthful) reports of losses or profits that will determine how much they will pay in taxes, or how many loopholes they will jump through. Their reports will also determine whether they will continue to receive loans from banks or other financial institutions. Incidentally, on this day in 1957 the European Economic Community was created, grouping Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands under one single umbrella economy, which was later expanded to the European Union in 1993. Today, 55 years later, the question about the future of this union is what everybody, and not just in Europe, is talking about (especially given Europe’s economic situation, and the world’s in general, after the 2008 financial crisis.) The economy sucks wherever you are, whether it’s in Europe, the US or Asia (in Africa, nothing’s changed, the situation has been, and still is, terrible). At the same time, capitalism is both the new religion, and a despicable one. If you’re feeling lost in all the mess and confusion that’s ruling the world of finance, you’re not alone. Even the experts are not bold (nor stupid) enough to predict what will happen to tomorrow’s stocks or gas prices. The globalization process has connected everyone to everything, and the relations of cause and effect are now ever more complex. Lucky for you, I have compiled a list of titles that will help you make sense of (or get mad at) the economic world. From informative and thought provoking via touching to exciting and entertaining, here they are:
1. The Corporation (2003) – This is the first of a trilogy of documentary films that I consider to be essential films, which could easily replace any macro-economics course. They explain how we got to where we are today. The premise is an 1886 Supreme court decision that gave corporations many of the rights people have. So the filmmakers set out to profile what type of a person a corporation would be. It’s sort of the reverse “what kind of animal are you?” game. The answer is pretty bleak and disturbing – a psychopath. Although it was made in 2003, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling from 2010, that gave corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited political money (just like you and I would) makes it ever more relevant. It’s a pretty biased film (to the left, if you’re wondering), but one conclusion is unquestionable: Money in politics is bad.
2. Food, Inc. (2008) – This documentary will show you the effects of the industrial revolution and capitalism on the food industry. You will understand that making money and making food don’t really go together after this eye opening and very thorough documentary. The fact that health food is the province of the rich makes the saying “It’s better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick” ever so true and a bit less funny, but we do get a glimmer of hope towards the end.
3. Inside Job (2010) – Both chapters lead us to the grand finale – the 2008 financial meltdown. you will get mad, you’ll get depressed, you’ll feel helpless… all the things a good documentary should make you feel. The fact that no one really paid the price or acknowledges responsibility for the abuse of the financial system, and that everyone just wants to keep going like nothing happened, makes the first movie’s claims so very accurate (one of the traits of the psychopath is the inability to feel guilt).
4. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) – This is a guide on how to go from being named “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years in a row (1996-2001) to going bankrupt in 24 days. Many companies go bankrupt, few do it in such a dramatic fashion. All of this is thanks to the magic of deregulation. It’s a tale of corruption, greed, hubris and human nature. Thanks to filmmaker Alex Gibney, bankruptcy and economics never looked as exciting or as funny (in a sad and infuriating way). Maybe too funny and exciting, as 2008′s crisis proved the lesson wasn’t learned.
5. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) – You might ask ‘Isn’t Eliot Spitzer the lawyer guy who resigned after admitting to frequenting prostitutes? How is that relevant to the economy?’ This precise question is answered in this clever documentary. This is a story of a meteoric rise to the top, and subsequent and painful downfall of one of the most promising politicians of this century (who exposed Enron’s corruption). His ambition ultimately did him in. He thought he was invincible, going after corporate crimes and Wall Street corruption. He was a relentless reformer, that got things done, but he flew too close to the sun. Exposing his sexual vice was enough to melt his wings… He is such a charismatic and complex character that you will be captivated throughout this film.
6. Margin Call (2011) – If the documentary genre is too much for you, here you will find a fictional account surrounding the 24 hours leading to the financial meltdown of 2008. It’s a thriller, and its goal is more to entertain than to inform, but the cast is very good (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Zachary Quinto), and while you know pretty much what happens you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
7. Better Off Ted (2009 – 2010) – After I depressed the hell out of you with those documentaries, let’s look at the corporate world in a humorous way. Jay Harrington and Portia de Rossi headline this workplace sitcom about a the on-goings in a wacky corporation. It’s a great satire, and De Rossi steals the show by perfectly embodying the spirit (or lack thereof) of the modern corporation, with obvious lack of emotion or basic social skills. It’s a shame it was cancelled after only two seasons.
8. Mondays in the Sun (2002) – Set in Spain way before the EU crisis, this drama about unemployment couldn’t be more relevant today, as the unemployment rate has recently reached more than 22%. Spanish heavyweights Javier Bardem and Luis Tosar play struggling working class people in the port town if Vigo. It’s an intimate portrayal of the harsh reality of people dealing with their plight from pride, proving men to be helpless and useless, and it is dealt with great sincerity. You will not stay indifferent to this film. Today’s Spanish youth doesn’t even have the memories of the good old days to hold on to.
9. Battle in Seattle (2008) – History repeats itself. This movie depicts the 1999 chaotic protests against the World Trade Organization meetings that were scheduled there, accusing it of widening the gap between rich and poor. Sounds familiar? Today’s Occupy Wall Street movement’s claims are very similar, so things don’t really change (sigh). What was planned as a peaceful demonstration soon deteriorated into chaos and mayhem in the streets. The violent outburst undermined the activists’ agenda, just like every violent incident by protesters today hinders their message and effort.
10. V for Vendetta (2006) – If you’ve followed the news in the past year, chance is you’ve seen the mask of V. This anti-hero became one of the symbols of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and many organizations claiming to fight the system. Although the movie does not really deal with the economy, the rebellious attitude has crossed over to the economic protest, proving without a doubts that the cliché is right: money does make the world… (go round, fight, unite, anything really).
Technorati Tags: annual reports, losses, profits, taxes, financial institutions, European Economic Community, European Union, financial crisis, capitalism, world of finance, globalization, The Corporation, documentary, films, economics, psychopath, money, politics, Food, Inc., industrial revolution, rich, poor, Inside Job, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, corruption, Alex Gibney, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Eliot Spitzer, lawyer, economy, politician, corporate crimes, Wall Street, corruption, Margin Call, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Better Off Ted, Jay Harrington, Portia de Rossi, Mondays in the Sun, unemployment, Javier Bardem, Luis Tosar, Battle in Seattle, chaotic protests, World Trade Organization, Occupy Wall Street, demonstration, chaos, activists, agenda, protesters, V for Vendetta, fight the system, rebellious attitude
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We’re proud to be a nominee in The Europas, Techcrunch’s technology innovation awards for European (EMEA) tech companies. The list is a testament to the impressive level of innovation in the EMEA region. The event is held on July 9 in London.
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At Jinni, we aim to offer a new approach to choosing movies that’s richer and more meaningful than the usual genres and keywords. Of course we have other favorite sites that offer different perspectives or unexpected insights into the world of movies. Here’s a list of 5 interesting links to check out.
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Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors ever. I wanted this post to be for his birthday, but then we launched Jinni in private beta and I missed the November 17 date. Still, I want to offer this list (hey, even genius directors get late birthday presents sometimes) of the top 10 movies with his favorite theme: rise and fall. Gangsters, athletes, tycoons, porn stars, and more. These guys got to the top but fell hard. If you want to learn how to stay at the top – read on…
10. Boogie Nights (1997)
Meet Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), a young, well-endowed dishwasher in a L.A. nightclub. Spotted by an adult film director (Burt Reynolds) and hungry for fame, Eddie changes his name to Dirk Diggler and becomes the hottest star in the porn industry. Director Paul Thomas Anderson‘s breakthrough film is an exhilarating ride through the underbelly of the 70s. Inspired by the films of Robert Altman and Scorsese, it features colorful camera work, a dynamic soundtrack, and a stellar cast.
Scorsese’se lavish spectacle hearkening back to Hollywood’s Golden Era tells the story of Howard Hughes, one of the 20th-century’s most pioneering and influential figures. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the eccentric billionaire, this biopic concentrates on Hughes’ life between the 20s and 40s, when he made striking contributions to both the film and aviation industries.
8. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)
Sergio Leone directed this epic saga, a classic crime drama that runs to nearly four hours, starring Robert De Niro, James Woods and Joe Pesci. The story revolves around the lives of childhood friends who rose from the Jewish ghetto to the top of the NY crime world. Sadly, this great movie was the last one Sergio Leone directed before dying in 1989 at age 60 from a heart attack.
7. American Gangster (2007)
British director Ridley Scott adeptly helms a Scorsese-like American crime epic based on a true story in 1968 Harlem. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is a driver for crime boss Bumpy Johnson. When Bumpy dies, Lucas takes over the empire and expands it with sales of a potent brand of heroin, supplied by corrupt Vietnam-based U.S. officers. Meanwhile, unpopular straight-shooting cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) begins to investigate the New York drug world and fellow members of the corrupt narcotics squad.
6. Casino (1995)
Set in the 1970s and reveling in the minute details of how Las Vegas casinos operate, this Scorsese flick chronicles the rise and fall of casino manager Ace Rothstein. Regulars De Niro and Pesci are first-rate once again as mismatched companions, but Sharon Stone steals the show with a grueling, intense performance.
5. Raging Bull (1980)
Scorsese’s personal approach to filmmaking reached a whole new level with Raging Bull, which also marked the first collaboration between De Niro and Pesci, to be followed by 5 more successful ones. The rise and fall of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta is played with incredible intensity and in an anti-Rocky style by Oscar winner De Niro (Scorsese’s longtime favorite, who got ditched for a younger Italian, DiCaprio…).
4. The Departed
A crime drama from Scorsese without De Niro and Pesci? Yes, there is such a thing and it even earned his much-deserved Oscar. It’s the story of a cop (Leonardo Di Caprio) going undercover as a mob member and a mob member (Matt Damon), infiltrating the police force. The strong supporting cast includes Jack Nicholson as the mob boss, Ray Winstone as his meat-headed muscle, Mark Wahlberg as a hot-headed police sergeant, and Vera Farmiga as a love interest for both Damon and DiCaprio.
3. Scarface (1983)
Brian De Palma‘s gory saga of a Cuban deportee’s rise to the top of Miami’s cocaine business has become a cult classic, referenced in rap songs and later gangster movies and quoted by fans everywhere. The film’s brutal violence and lack of positive characters still make it controversial and disliked by certain critics.
2. The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola‘s masterpiece tells of Mafia life in the U.S. during the 1940s and 50s. This epic saga set a new screen standard for merging blood-soaked violence with intimate family drama.
1. Goodfellas (1979)
A classic portrait of life in the mob, Scorsese’s wry, ultra-violent and exhilarating film tells the tale of neurotic Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who is joined by cool know-it-all Jimmy Conway (De Niro) and psychotic Tommy DeVito (Oscar winning performance for Joe Pesci) in his journey from innocent boyhood to crime-driven adulthood. The film established one of the director’s trademarks: pop and rock music to infuse every scene with a breathtaking, invigorating rhythm.
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It’s hard to see why the bad economy is good news for anyone but successful hedgers and bankruptcy lawyers. And the financial fallout is likely to continue for a while, even with a new president. But I think artists and entrepreneurs have reason for hope. New ideas and small projects can sometimes edge in as convention falters and giants fail. So for all the creative and innovative types out there, here are 5 reasons culled from around the web to look on the bright side.
5. More chances for new TV
4. It’s time to travel
3. Even Hollywood has fresh ideas
2. Think of Microsoft and Apple
1. Artists are supposed to suffer
More thoughts on the creative potential of troubled times? Please add below!
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