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"Chasing Madoff": Overstuffed Doc Obscures Arresting Portrait of Corruption 

Wednesday, Sep 7 2011

Brimming over with outrage not so much at the eponymous Ponzi schemer as against the government body that failed to rein him in, Chasing Madoff documents whistleblower Harry Markopolos's futile 10-year effort to get the SEC to listen to his case against the world's most notorious financier. Drawing on every technique in the documentarian's toolkit (talking heads, archival footage, re-enactments with the actual people playing themselves), Jeff Prosserman's film paints an arresting portrait of the widespread financial corruption infiltrating vast international networks, governmental regulatory bodies, and the U.S. media. The doc effectively conveys both the sense of continual menace that hounded financial fraud investigator Markopolos (who packed guns early and often) and the perpetual frustration and self-doubt that comes from playing Cassandra. Too bad Prosserman can't trust his material: Overloading the screen with aesthetic dross, the director offers up tiresome symbolic imagery of blood-soaked hands, burning money, and out-of-focus documents. Rather than amping up the intensity, these fast-cut sequences prove disastrously distracting and — juxtaposing a subject saying "This is explosive," with a shot of a match being struck — thuddingly literal-minded.

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Andrew Schenker


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