J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Silver Circle: Gresham’s Dystopia


Currency becomes “fiat” money when it is no longer backed by something with intrinsic value, typically precious metals, but relies solely on warm fuzzy feelings for the national government.  Historically, this has not worked well, but our leaders (elected and otherwise) have chosen to go down this path, nonetheless.  So how much confidence do you have in the Federal government today?  In 2019 they have even less, but the Feds have doubled down on measures to control economic freedom.  An organized resistance targets the intrusive state bureaucracy where it hurts the most, minting their own silver currency in Pasha Roberts’ animated dystopian feature Silver Circle (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Six or so short years from now, the Federal Reserve tries to control the housing market with the same ham-fisted techniques they apply to the money supply.  To keep housing prices up, they remove units from the market.  Those who do not willing sell out are forcibly evicted.  This often leads to outrage and protests.  In fact, one demonstration against the Fed’s Department of Housing Stability turns violent when uniformed HouStab officers start firing into the crowd.

An honest HouStab investigator like Jay Nelson will not be assigned an incident like that.  Instead, he is sent out to probe multiple cases of suspected arson at a long vacant housing development HouStab deliberately mothballed.  However, his investigation leads him to Zoe Taylor, an underground activist with evidence linking nefarious doings to the current Fed chairman, Victor Brandt.  This all rather alarms the off-the-books thugs Brandt has tailing Nelson, particularly since it threatens to rock the boat exactly when Congress is considering legislation to make the Fed chairmanship a lifetime appointment.

It is hard to believe a film giving Ron Paul a shout out for economics (as opposed to foreign policy) would open in New York, but here it is.  Frankly, HouStab’s tactics and excesses are frighteningly believable in the current political climate.  It is all too easy to see how we would get from here to there in six years.

Unfortunately, Circle’s prophet cautionary note is wrapped in a painfully crude animated package.  Inexpressive and awkward looking, the figures simply do not measure up to current standard of indie animation.  Typically, they do not even walk, they waddle.  They are also rather charmless.  Given the dramatic context, Taylor is clearly meant to be a traffic-stopping beauty, but she’s not going to make any fanboy forget Jessica Rabbit.  Oddly enough, the graphic novel version available on the film’s website looks considerably better.

Some real thought went into the narrative of Silver, which we can all appreciate.  Yet, one wonders if it might do more harm than good by reinforcing the stereotype Libertarians are all a bunch of gun-toting malcontents.  Smart but aesthetically challenged, Silver Circle needs more than a strong understanding of monetary policy to earn it a recommendation, but for the intrigued and the faithful it opens this Friday (3/22) in New York at the Cinema Village.

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