Hollywood’s Top Ten Movies about Corporate Greed — I
The corporate companies, we see in the news, — whether oil in Iraq, or copper in Peru and Latin America, or fruit in the Caribbean islands — don’t invade countries. In their own unique, greedy way, they take over. When a scarce resource or mineral that is profitable is found anywhere, corporate greed will drive them to take it. Corporate greed also depends on convincing us what we product we want (which in reality, we don’t need at all). Consume, consume, consume- consume that’s what the conglomerates chants to us.
Greed or not, we still have to pay our bills. That’s one aspect in our life, which never changes. Our lives in this dog-eat-dog world might be a bit hard, but every now and then a movie comes along that can bring these high-stakes world to light. Guys like Gordon Gekko make us feel sick, while heroes like Wigand show us that greed and lies never triumph. In this list, I haven’t included post-depression era movies, just to give way to contemporary films, where greed has taken novel ways. Get ready to learn from their failure and valiance.
10. Boiler Room (2000)
Have you ever responded to a telephone solicitation? If you have, then Ben Younger’s “Boiler Room” might serve as an eye-opener. The movie tells the tale of a desperate young man, who joins a firm of crooked stockbrokers and becomes a super-salesman, but eventually, comes to question the values of his co-workers. Director Younger’s portrait of money-driven amorality has a firmer grasp on the convoluted workings of pop and business (sub) cultures than many other films on similar subjects. The film falters towards the end with its usual clinical ending, but nevertheless shows a world to you, where money rules and the good guys not only finish last, they get eaten alive.
9. American Psycho (2000)
You might wonder why a serial killer movie is in this list. Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Ellis’ notorious novel, “American Psycho” is a satire of urban, corporate greed and conspicuous consumption. The protagonist ‘Patrick Bateman’ is the personification of the princely world of Wall Street, who has an attitude of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (no matter at what cost). The Batman actor Bale is absolutely perfect in the blood-drenched role of Bateman. The film’s last twenty minutes will, no doubt, have you questioning exactly what you just saw. Like, “Fight Club” or “A Clockwork Orange”, don’t take this movie literally. If you see this as an allegory, then you might find a caustic remark on materialism, greed, narcissism and misogyny.
8. Syriana (2005)
Stephen Gaghan’s fascinating mosaic of politics, capitalism and corporate corruption, “Syriana” is chilling in its implications, even though it’s a bit complicated tale to follow. It tells the four interlocking stories, which centers on the merger of two giant oil companies. The multi-billion dollar merger affects the life of four characters: economic analyst (Matt Damon), CIA officer (Clooney), corporate lawyer (Wright), and a poor Pakistani immigrant, Wasim Khan (Munir), who travels to Saudi Arabia seeking work, but finds the teachings of radical Islam. “Syriana’s” greatest strength is that it doesn’t provide easy answers (like those corporate medias), and also questions all of pre-conceived answers. This film probes into darkness further than most and shines brightly enough that blindness can no longer be our excuse.
7. The Constant Gardener (2005)
Fernando Meirelles’ “The Constant Gardener” (based on John Le Carre’s best-seller) is a multi-faceted examination of multinational corporation criminality. The film tells us the story of a shy diplomat Justin Quayle, who investigates the fate of his late-wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz) in Kenya. The inquiry gives a detour and a human face to the West’s exploitation of the third world. The most powerful view of the movie is what it has to say about the way medicines are tested, by greedy pharmaceuticals, in third world nations without the consideration of negative side effects. The ending is formal like a third-world tourist-cinema. Nevertheless, the movie depicts a metaphor for what needs to happen in all developed countries if the plight of countries in Africa is ever to be alleviated.
6. Thank You for Smoking (2005)
Jason Reitman’s film is a funny satire about the avaricious tobacco industry. Unlike a cigarette, the film offers no filters as it mercilessly puffs out moral controversy and political incorrectness. Nick Naylor (Eckhart) is the guy we all hate to be in real life. He is the lobbyist for cigarette-industry giant. He’s a verbalizer who can twist even the most unsympathetic audience. But, crisis arises for Nick, when he has to deal with a senator’s campaign to have every fag packet labeled ‘poison.’ With a dimpled chin and wide smile, Eckhart carries this movie. One of the true strength of the movie is that, it goes beyond the easy jokes. “Thank You for Smoking” is not an earth-shattering film, but it is exceedingly rare — an astute comedy about corporate greed that will make adults laugh.