Films on human greed, arbitration and one smoke-scented lobbyist

The actions of the protagonists in these films are callous as much as they are seductive. You may not want to agree with us, but these films can teach the viewer a lot about the art of convincing people. NOT cheating them, God forbid!

All that’s left to add to your pack of popcorn is a cue: Watch them to make the world a better place to live.

Thank You for Smoking (2005). Based on the 1994 satirical novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley (back in the 80s, chief speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush), the film follows the efforts of Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman who lobbies on behalf of cigarettes using heavy spin tactics while also trying to remain a role model for his 12-year-old son.

An award-winning British television documentary series The Century of the Self  (2002) focuses on how the work of Sigmund and Anna Freud as well as Mr Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays (“the father of public relations”) influenced the way real-life corporations and governments have analyzed,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people.

Then there is Arbitrage, a 2012 drama film about a 60-year-old billionaire hedge fund manager who has cooked his company’s books in order to cover an investment loss and avoid being arrested for fraud. One night, while driving with his mistress, he begins to doze off and has an accident in which she is killed. But, still, he tries to fix it. Because, so far in his life, he’s been able to fix everything, and why should this be different?

Too Big to Fail (2011) is an HBO TV drama film. It is based on the non-fiction book Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Having watched that, you might want to check Margin Call (2011), an ensemble thriller that focuses on a 24-hour period in a Lehman-esque investment bank during the height of the financial crisis.

For more films on greed check here, here and here.

Other films about the executive culture and power merchants today and yeasterday include:

Up In The Air (2009) about a corporate “downsizer” and his travels. Or, as film’s director, Jason Reitman, puts it, “about a man who fires people for a living, ..collects air miles excessively, ..meets a woman who’s so similar to him that even though they both believe in the idea of living solo, they begin to fall in love.”

If you still have some milk left in your can, be sure to have digested well before you watch Food, Inc. This 2008 documentary by our favorite American film- and television-production company, Participant Media, examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees.

Closing the list are 23 free-to-watch parts of The Corporation, a documentary that examines the modern-day corporation, considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person. This 2003 Canadian film was written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.


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