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Review: 'Heist' offers clues to the economic crisis

The documentary 'Heist' is effective in outlining the history of deregulation.

August 16, 2012

With a subtitle like "Who Stole the American Dream?" it's clear where Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher's financial meltdown documentary "Heist" is going, and it doesn't take long to get there.

From an opening salvo of Occupy Wall Street protest footage, the film quickly embarks on a string of snappily edited interviews that efficiently breaks down the step-by-step deregulation of an American economy shaped by the New Deal.

Ultimately reframing the advancement of free market ideology of the last four decades as class warfare against the have-nots, the documentary manages to widen its scope without losing its narrative thread.

Using as a road map a 1971 memo on free enterprise for the Chamber of Commerce written by Lewis Powell Jr., a lawyer who later sat on the Supreme Court, "Heist" earnestly paints the picture of a democracy slowly and methodically being nudged toward oligarchy with help from all sides.

The film works diligently to dismantle the Reagan mystique as well as shift a hefty portion of blame onto Bill Clinton's neo-liberal agenda.

Wherever one's politics fall on the spectrum, there is much in here — such as a maddening video clip in which an American law firm offers counsel on how to avoid hiring American workers — likely to give one pause.

Mindy Farabee

"Heist." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour 16 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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