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Director:Patrick Creadon

Posted 11/5/2008

In the 2006 documentary Wordplay, director Patrick Creadon managed to boost his characters over the hurdle of stasis. If Creadon could make an engaging documentary about crossword puzzlers (and he did), then there could be no better choice of filmmaker for his current project: explaining the national debt. As with Wordplay, there are characters--in this case the gawky Concord Coalition executive director Robert L. Bixby and U.S. comptroller general David M. Walker, gray and starched as from a 1920s newsreel--but little action. The men tour the country sounding the debt alarm, and you just know the film, with different editing, could have been Spinal Tap-ian. This is too bad, since the people quoted here--the people riding the "Fiscal Wakeup Tour" bus like a Geritol-fueled punk-rock band--are real financial experts, but they're outcasts from the magical-surrealist subculture that has lately run the U.S. economy. For close watchers, this move rips the mask of respectability from the financial world. But then, with a screen full of old white guys prattling on soberly, punctuated by a bunch of graphs, how many close watchers will there be?

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