Posted December 14, 2010 by Alex Moss Editor in Films
 
 

Freakonomics


Get Your Freak On

Book-to-film
transfers are notoriously difficult to pull off
at times. Ask any Harry
Potter
devotee and they’re bound to agree. Peter Jackson might have made a
decent fist of it with the LOTR trilogy but nearly always the books win out. Doing
the same for non-fiction is probably a little easier as the documentary nature
of the material lends itself towards the genre. 2005’s runaway success “Freakonomics” has now been given the visual
makeover
after the success of Super Size Me, Jesus Camp and Religious
brought intellectual debate to the masses.

It helps then that Levitt and Dubner’s book has not only aped their style but recruited
their input
as well as a range of directors explore a variety of topics on
the hidden things in life as part
of Seth Gordon’s thematic whole.

Things begin well with Morgan Spurlock’s humorous “A Roshanda By Any Other Name” which
looks at the successes, or lack of, which derive from the names given to us by
over-ambitious parents. From there Alex Gibney’s “The Power of Corruption” delves
into allegations of cheating in Sumo Wrestling making comparison with Wall
Street’s hounded financial bad boys with limited success. Perhaps a more timely
study of such claims in cricket might have had more success; as it is, it’s far less appealing than Panorama’s
recent expose
on corruption in Fifa for example.

More interesting is Eugene Jarecki’s “It’s Not Always a Wonderful Life” which looks at
cause and effect through a study of low crime levels although the introductory
companion piece exploring how ice cream was thought to cause Polio makes the
point far more succinctly.

It’s left to Jesus Camp directors Heidi Ewing and
Rachel Grady to provide the debating
point with their study of incentives in youngsters.
Does rewarding kids for
hard work actually succeed? Saying far more about entrepreneurial spirit,
happiness and greed, at least it offers some clues as to what actually makes
pupils tick while offering the packages most arresting segment.

Though lacking in humour and far more earnest than required in these days of light-hearted
documentary features, Freakonomics at least offers a more visually accessible way to explore the written word in the
same way Religulous allowed non-book-lovers to perhaps glance at The God
Delusion.

You might get
your freak on
here, however there’s little really to freak you out.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com