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chasing madoff
Click for full sized poster

Chasing Madoff

Starring Harry Markopolos, Frank Casey, Neil Chelo, Gaytri Kachroo and Michael Ocrant,
Based on the book "No One Would Listen" by Harry Markopolos
Written and Directed by Jeff Prosserman

IN SHORT: Not only Fascinating . . . It's also a terrific sit. [ 91 minutes]

Regular readers of this site know that yours Cranky doesn't cover very many documentary films. The reason is simple: our readership rarely shows any interest in these kinds of films. Ditto for most foreign language films, excepting heavy duty martial arts action things. When asked to review these kinds of films we watch and, if we think the film is really worth your while, we write 'em up. You don't have to be a rich person to have been affected by the machinations of Bernard Madoff. His multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme aptly demonstrates what Ronald Reagan promoted in his (Reagan's) own trickle-down economic theory, although what Madoff pulled off is not exactly what President Reagan envisioned.

Madoff's scheme destroyed the life's savings or ordinary Americans; brought various banking institutions to their knees and, if you will allow us to make the stretch, kick started the formation of what is now called the Tea Party Movement, which believes that the enormous size of our government makes it enormously ineffective. Without intending to take a political stand, we still predict that the film Chasing Madoff will become the TP's holy grail of film, as it pretty well proves that the United States government was fully incompetent in regards to the Madoff "situation." The "situation" in this case is not they guy from the Jersey Shore obsessed with with his abs; "situation" is a code word used by rich white guys meaning "we are about to get our heads handed to us on a platter unless we find someone else to take the blame."

For those that don't remember, Bernard Madoff was an "investment advisor" who orchestrated a 0onzi scheme that ripped off his investors to the tune of $51 BILLION dollars. He started by mining the family fortunes of overseas royal families and other ridiculously rich foreigners who kept their billions locked away in hush hush Swiss bank accounts. These über wealthy people were all paid miraculously impossible returns on their investments while the rest of the world -- you and I-- were reeling under the first or so of ever growing recessions that have decimated the middle class (and up) here in the States..

Once the foreigners had been bilked, Madoff opened his investment firm to average, upper class Americans, who saw impossibly ridiculous returns and wanted in . . . this when you were lucky to get 1% interest out of a bank and the stock market was behaving like a roller coaster - not all that different than now, to think of it.. Madoff was delivering something like a 19% ROI (return on investment). Everyone wanted into Madoff's world . . . we worked at a white glove law firm in the same building as the Madoff group somewhere around this time. The partners already had their fortunes stashed in the Cayman islands. The associates needed to build the big nut to buy partnerships and, hey, 19% is a lot more than 6% you might have gotten out of the stock market mutual fund if you were lucky . . . poor saps. Which finally, and to the great relief of our publicity friends, brings us to this film

Meanwhile in Boston, a trio of fund managers took a close look at Madoff's declared earnings; they had been assigned by their boss to figure out Madoff's strategy and come up with their own formula to deliver such profits (presumably without violating any trademark or copyright or proprietary information that Madoff may have been using because that, after all, would be illegal . . .}

Led by a man named Harry Markopolos, the team determined what should have been obvious to government organizations like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) -- Madoff's numbers didn't add up. Madoff's investment strategy was about as real as that magic formula for changing lead into gold. Madoff was a fraud and his investment business was a fraud so obvious and ongoing that, given the amount of money involved (again, over $50 BILLION), anyone calling attention to the fraud was in danger of, how do the mobsters put it?, oh yeah, sleeping with the fishes.

Or to use a more contemporary phrase: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" . . . for those of you who don't speak Star Trek, it means "I got mine. You squeal and you're dead."

Of course, it wasn't Madoff making the threat. It was the early investors and the banks and stock funds that realized that, if the scheme was brought down, they'd lose their golden egg. As Markopolos and his team quite innocently, and easily, discover that Madoff's magic formula was nothing more than a traditional 0onzi scheme, the question they posed: "why doesn't anyone in authority bring the hammer down on the crook?" is answered by a chain of government ineptness that should make your blood boil.

Markopolos works the chain of command right up the ladder, ensuring that his ducks are in a row and his accusations are solid like concrete. By the time he reaches the Securities and Exchange Commission, the team is absolutely positive that there is no way Madoff is going to get away with his scam. But year after year after year (and so on for nearly a decade) the accusation bounced around the government for nine years without anything being done.

The stunning part of all of this is that, using documentary footage and a wee bit of recreated footage to demonstrate the ease with which Markopolos and his team took the Madoff scheme apart, Chasing Madoff rips by with the ease and thrills of any multimillion dollar action flick. Since you probably won't be rushing to stand on line to watch a documentary film (oh! the horrific memories of old school days!) let us make this a simple as possible:

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Chasing Madoff , he would have paid . . .

$9

We're keeping our politics to the side on this one. It doesn't really matter what your politics are, either. The entire craziness which enabled a scam of this side should make every viewer's blood boil.

Just go see it.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.