In David Mamet's film Heist, Danny DeVito's character famously says, "Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money." What that second sentence means is anybody's guess, but that first sentence is the subject of Katie Teague's new documentary Money & Life: Why does everybody need money? How did we get to this place of money dependence? And what can be done to change that? Come to the Roxie Theater tonight (April 10) or the New Parkway in Oakland tomorrow night (April 11) to find out.
Like so many of us, Teague was impacted by the Global Financial Apocalypse of 2008, though unlike those of us who scattered to find a new job (or to go back to school, or both), Teague started re-examining her relationship with money and its relationship with the world. The result is the Kickstarter-funded Money & Life.
Money & Life is heavy on the infographics, as well as plenty of woo, understandable given the presence of The Soul of Money's Lynne Twist and dot-com millionaire turned truth-seeker Rahul Brown. In the early going, there's plenty of nostalgia for the rosy era when our grandparents evidently didn't need money because things like child care and entertainment were free. (The footage of the happy, money-free people looks to be from around the time of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?") The real howler comes when an interviewee laments that children used to go outside to find their own adventures (cut to b&w footage of a group of kids unsafely climbing in shaky tree branch), but now just stay inside and play "online adventure games" (cut to color footage of a kid being eerily lit by a computer monitor, reminiscent of Time Magazine's infamous 1995 "Cyberporn" cover).
But woo and nostalgic revisionism aside, Money & Life does offer an engrossing history of the very concept of currency, and it raise some very salient points about our relationship with money, and the treadmill we constantly run on to acquire it. A disclaimer at the beginning establishes that the film is not a tirade against greedy bankers or a denouncement of capitalists, and it ultimately isn't -- though those folks aren't part of the solution, either.
Money & Life plays Wednesday, April 10 at the Roxie Theater, and Tuesday, April 11 at the New Parkway. Beginning May 1, it will be available for In Rainbows-style "pay what you will" streaming and download. Full details are available at moneyandlifemovie.com.