Staying home and avoiding other people is everyone’s new main “activity.” And big gaps are appearing in most of our regularly scheduled programming (no live sports — ugh). That means there’s lots of time to watch or rewatch some great films that deal with corruption and compliance.
Here are seven recommendations. These movies have all been reviewed on the FCPA Blog in our Sleaze in the Cinema feature.
The Big Short (2015) IMDB rating 7.8/10
Our reviewer, Nicole Rose, said: I have made around 200 animated short videos for global compliance programs. . . . When I saw the film, I thought it was a perfect example of animation . . . its clear, no nonsense, engaging way of teaching people about complicated, overwhelming, and sometimes boring topics.
Margin Call (2011) IMDB rating 7.1/10
Our reviewer, Mike Scher, said: [T]he New Yorker from October 2011 called it “easily the best Wall Street movie ever made.” I agree. And while the entire cast is outstanding, Jeremy Irons’s character — John Tuld, the chair of an investment bank in distress on the first days of the 2008 financial meltdown — is one of the most memorable movie performances I’ve ever seen.
The Big Easy (1986) IMDB rating 6.5/10
Our reviewer said: Great movies deal honestly with serious themes. The Big Easy shows lives ruined by public corruption and hints at other problems it causes — poverty, high crime rates, a dysfunctional education system, sub-par health care, local courts that people don’t trust, city services that don’t serve, and a constant brain drain.
A Most Violent Year (2014) IMDB rating 7.0/10
Our reviewer, Ilya Zlatkin, said: A Most Violent Year is a film fraught with compliance and corruption issues. . . . The protagonist, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), constantly strives to follow “the path that is most right.” The movie explores what effects an investigation (without any convictions) can have on a business.
American Hustle (2013) IMDB rating 7.2/10
Our reviewer, Andy Spalding, said: Make no mistake: This film is absolutely brilliant, and for those of us in the anti-corruption space, profoundly challenging.
Our other reviewer, Julie DiMauro, said: You feel sorry for those doing the duping and those getting duped — until you realize that by taking the low road into corruption, no person, family or public citizenry has benefited.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) IMDB rating 8.2/10
Our reviewer, Mike Scher, actually warned against this movie. He said: It’s astonishingly good news that after forty years of trial and error to develop the compliance profession, the law finally evolved to require both a new business “culture” and the compliance officer position to make this “culture” happen. . . But for compliance officers, Wolf represents a significant “external” threat to building an ethical business culture.
Author’s note: In the category of too-much-irony-to handle, the production company behind The Wolf of Wall Street agreed to pay $60 million to settle a DOJ forfeiture action. The DOJ alleged the production company used money looted from the Malaysia sovereign wealth fund 1MDB to make Wolf and at least two other movies — Daddy’s Home and Dumb and Dumber To.
Syriana (2005) IMDB rating 6.9/10
Our reviewer said: Syriana is the best Hollywood movie ever made about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It’s also the only Hollywood movie ever made about the FCPA.
Commenting on our review, a reader said: In truth, the aspect of the movie I liked best is the original promotional trailer itself, of which I have shown a portion (after having received a license) at the start of anti-corruption compliance training to grab an audience’s attention . . .
Honorable Mentions: Lots more well-known movies deal with corruption and compliance — The Godfather: Part II (1974), L.A. Confidential (1997), Serpico (1973), and The Firm (1993), among others. But those films haven’t been reviewed yet on the FCPA Blog. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.