The movie- Enron: The smartest guys in the room (2005)- is based on a book of the same name by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. It examines one of the biggest corporate scandals in the U.S. history- the unexpected sudden collapse of one of the largest corporations in the world. It introduces us to Ken Lay (“Kenny Boy”), Jeff Skilling (“a former nerd”), Andy Fastow, and others who were the top dogs at Enron. The movie combines insider accounts, C-span clips, voice-over effects, and corporate audio and video tapes to present the why, how, and to what effect of the Enron saga. Worth watching, I believe.
What really happened at Enron? Were the activities and events at Enron any different from those in other big corporation? Why did nobody speak up when they were making money off Enron stock? How did Enron top management manage to fool the media, journalists, employees, and the public for so long? I doubt these questions will ever be completely answered. For most people, Enron is already history- Something that happened in the past.
Roger & Me (1989) is a movie about small-town Michigan, and some may even say small-town America. General Motors (the company that was once so important they used to say ‘what’s good for GM is good for the U.S.’) is closing its factories in Flint (MI) and moving production to Mexico. The closing of GM, accompanies with the inevitable closing of the local factories of its suppliers, has a big impact on the community- loss of jobs, loss of homes, decrease in quality of life etc. Michael Moore, arguably the most controversial documentary film-maker in the U.S., tries to get General Motors chairman Roger Smith to come to Flint and see the devastation his decision has caused in the town. Michael Moore fails in persuading Roger Smith to visit Flint, but succeeds in making a good movie.
Many critics argue that Roger & Me is Michael Moore’s best movie. Regardless of whether it is or it is not, Michael Moore effectively highlights the pain caused by relocating factories or outsourcing jobs. Though the movie was made in 1989, the issues Michael Moore discusses in the movie continue to be valid to this day in Michigan. Anyone who heard Governor Romney and Senator McCain battle it out in Michigan last month knows that the people of Michigan would really like to get back those jobs they lost to other countries. The economy being what it is and corporate downsizing refusing to slow down, the movie is a great teaching tool for issues related to globalization, the impact of layoffs, role of big business, automobile industry, competition, top management decision-making, business leadership, public policy, and many others.