Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The book was a smash hit that looked at some intriguing statistical analyses of sociologial phenomena by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner (subtitled: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything).

The movie tries to do the same. Featuring an ensemble of directors (Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki, and Morgan Spurlock) looking at different stories of statistics from the book along with some new topics such as the aptly titled "Can you bribe a 9th grader to succeed", the movie attempts to balance both the entertaining and the intriguing and insightful.

Unfortunately, I thought it would make a nice TV episode on public television. The best minisode is the one that deals with the most controversial topic from the book, the link between abortion and crime, and is directed by Eugene Jarecki. It did a fantastic job of creatively showing a very heavy topic. It is too bad that the rest of the movie was not like it as the stark contrasts in creative styles from the different directors work against the whole rather than for it.

It would have been nice to see the movie explore beyond the book, to delve more deeply into the topic. But as one minisode tells it, the difference between the surface, (Tatamae) and the truth (Honne) is often great. Unfortunately, this movie never crosses that boundary and left me dissatisfied.

Expect to see it this in fall in theaters.

Silverdocs blog.

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