Freakonomics [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
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In 2005, economist Steven Levitt teamed up with journalist Stephen Dubner to bring us the best-selling phenomenon “Freakonomics”, a revelatory investigation into the hidden side of everything that introduced us to a new way of understanding our world. Now, six rogue filmmakers behind some of the most acclaimed documentaries in recent years have brought Levitt and Dubner’s groundbreaking vision to life. Compiling a series of fascinating, visually arresting and often hilarious case studies, Freakonomics proves that the key to unlocking the mysteries of everyday life lies in one very important question: what’s the incentive?
"Entertaining" -- Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Fascinating...Provocative...Surprising...Undeniably entertaining." -- Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
"Profound...Sophisticated…" -- Eric Kohn, Indiewire
"Tons of fun." -- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
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Top Customer Reviews
Here Freakonomics takes the discipline down to the individual I have already had several economics courses that showed things such as all world history including wars and even the U.S. Constitution can be boiled down to economic incentives. So the economic concept is not new but applying it to individual cases or other disciplines is what makes this presentation unique.
As with all concepts there is no way that you can cram the whole theory from the book into an hour and a half program. So here we get a superficial overview which does not quite live up to the standards. I was really impressed when the program started out with the section on real estate; they showed what I always suspected. The section on cheating was pure statistics and not as impressive but useful. The section on parenting was a little dragged out and not quite as focused; however I did find the part on getting kids names interesting. The section on incentives showed nothing new however I could name a few people that could learn something from this feeling. The section on cause and effect pretty much wraps up the concepts that are trying to be presented here.
I suggest you listen to the commentary as it gives some insight as to what is trying to be accomplished in the presentation(s). Why they picked different directors and so forth. Filmmakers will find this interesting.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I hate to write a mediocre review, but after reading and enjoying both Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, this movie was a little disappointing. It is not that it was bad, just that I had high expectation considering that the books were so good. I was very excited to order this and even show it in my microeconomics class, but after watching it I am not sure if I will use it at all- perhaps a clip or two.
The visual effects, illustrations, and cinematography were very good. I also was glad to seem some interviews from the authors, rather than some other format. However, if you had not already read the book, you might be a little lost on what they were talking about. I am not sure how it could have been done better, since they covered a lot of content and had limited time, but it does not seem like the viewers would walk away and say "Oh, I now have a more clear understanding of XYZ..."
The thing that bothered me most was the subtitles during the Sumo section. In addition to there being quite a bit of Japanese dialog, the subtitles were hard to read because they were all in white. Very distracting when a bright screen came up and you could not read them. I found myself anxious for this section to end so we could go back to English.
I think that the authors should consider a TV series instead of a movie, similar to their podcast now (which is great, BTW). Think Myth-Busters or Stossel's 20/20 programs: They could cover more topics without feeling rushed.
Based on the best seller of the same name, the book was written by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner. It focused on Levitt's research into the causality of numerous topics as explained via economics and tabulated information. The interesting thing, as he states, is that in seeking reasons for various topics people think things are connected to something else but it turns out not being the case. Trust me, its less complicated than you think and easier to understand than you would expect but more so after watching this film.
To make a movie out of the book, they chose 4 different notable documentary directors and went to work. Each one has their own look and feel, but all incorporate into the general picture at hand. The first is one of the most well known, Morgan Spurlock who did SUPER SIZE ME. Here he takes on the question of what is in a name.
The question here is is a person judged and their life set up early on by what their parents name them? Beginning with the example of a young girl named after Tempest Bledsoe of COSBY fame whose mother couldn't spell resulting in the name Temptress, we find that it wasn't her name so much as her environment that formed her life. But there's more to it than that. The choice of names and how they affect everything from your job acceptance to your place in society is discussed with results different than one might expect.
But back to the original premise of the film, where one would think that a person's name might be the reason for the life that the end up with, the truth is that it is more their surroundings. Thus the expectations of people are proved wrong when the facts are sought out.
A section on cheating focuses on sumo wrestlers in Japan. Sure, you might not be interested in two big men in diapers fighting one another, but that's not the point. The discussion forms around sumo being a traditional sport surrounded in religion and honor that was corrupted. So much so that the results of matches could be predicted. What brought about this change from honor to corruptibility?
One segment deals with incentives and what we expect once more versus the outcome. Here, a group of students are given the incentive to do well in school by being promised $50 each time their grade cards come out if they show improvement and a few other items like attendance. Those that do well qualify for a $500 check at year's end as well as a stretch limo ride. Does this incentive help increase school activity? Watch and see.
The fourth section discusses the reported drop in crime rates during the 80s. Politicians spoke endlessly about how they had achieved this, citing the increase in policemen on the streets as the biggest reason. In researching the date, Levitt and crew discovered that police were only a small portion of the reason crime decreased. The main reason, nearly 49% worth, was...well again, watch and see.
The movie is well made and follows an interesting path. It starts out simple, discussing selling your home and real estate agents (trust me it's interesting) just to set up the film's/book's idea and then presenting the different theories focused on in an intelligent and still entertaining way.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it will make you look at the world from a different standpoint. You won't tend to accept things at face value and will look deeper into why things happen. You might even choose to pick up a copy of the book and see how they applied themselves to discover the real answers to some different questions.
All in all, the film is a treat, making it enjoyable as well as informative. That's a rare combination to find in films these days. Rare still is the fact that you have a documentary that doesn't preach one political side or another, it just informs. And to me that makes it a great documentary.
"Freakonomics" (93 min.) tries to bring onto the screen pretty much the same stories that the co-authors brought us in the book. Most of the stories as brought in the movie actually are condensed and gloss over a lot of the details, in particular the data supporting the seemingly unexpected results from the "hidden side of everything". That proves to be a fatal flaw for the movie, even if the movie is not bad as entertainment. The one section that goes further than what is in the book is the Sumo wrestling investigation to explore corruption, and that was foor me the best part of the movie. In all, it's not a bad movie, and certainly compared to the crap of most Hollywood mainstream commercial movies, this is a standout movie.
Every single reviewer of this movie falls into 1 of 2 categories: either as having read the book before seeing the movie, or as not having read the book. I can almost guarantee that very few of us who have read the book, will be entralled with the movie. If you happen to not have read the book or seen the movie yet, I'd suggest you save your money on this DVD and instead head on over to Amazon's Books section and buy Freakconomics and its sequel Superfreakonomics.