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The One Percent (2006)

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In this hard-hitting but humorous documentary, director Jamie Johnson takes the exploration of wealth that he began in Born Rich one step further. The One Percent, refers to the tiny ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Nicole Buffet ...
Herself - Granddaughter of Investor Warren Buffett
Chuck Collins ...
Himself - Great Grandson of Oscar Meyer
Steve Forbes
Cody Franchetti ...
Himself - Italian Baron
Milton Friedman ...
Himself - Nobel Laureate
Bill Gates Sr. ...
Himself - Father of Microsoft Founder
Eddie Bernice Johnson ...
Herself - Chair Congressional Black Caucus 2001-03
Gretchen Johnson ...
Herself - Jamie's Mother
...
Himself
Jim Johnson ...
Himself - Jamie's Father
Adnan Khashoggi ...
Himself - Arms Merchant
Claude Kirk ...
Himself - Former Governor of Florida
Greg Kushner ...
Himself - Lido Wealth Conference Director
John Lewis ...
Himself - US Representative (D)
Roy Martin ...
Himself - President, Martin Lumber Co.
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Storyline

In this hard-hitting but humorous documentary, director Jamie Johnson takes the exploration of wealth that he began in Born Rich one step further. The One Percent, refers to the tiny percentage of Americans who control nearly half the wealth of the U.S. Johnson's thesis is that this wealth in the hands of so few people is a danger to our very way of life. Johnson captures his story through personal interviews with Robert Reich, Adnan Khashoggi, Bill Gates Sr., and Steve Forbes, during which both Johnson's and his subjects' knowledge and humor shine. And he's not afraid to butt heads with Milton Friedman, the economist who coined the term "the trickledown effect." He also shows how the other half lives, using real-world examples of the wealth gap: he takes a tour of a dilapidated housing project in Chicago, rides around with an enlightened taxi driver, and sees the human toll of the unfair economics of the Florida sugar industry. Johnson's film is at its most powerful when it reveals ... Written by Schafer, Nancy

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29 April 2006 (USA)  »

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Himself - Kinko's Founder: One day I'd like to go to the Moon and look at the planet Earth and say, 'Wow, there's part of my portfolio.'
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Poor Little Rich Kid's Guilt Trip.
5 September 2006 | by (Northern, N.J.) – See all my reviews

This was one of the films I was most looking forward to at the last Tribeca Film Festival and was sorely disappointed. Jamie Johnson's first film, "Born Rich" was an excellent documentary. That film dealt with the issue of children born into mass amounts of wealth and how they deal with it. HBO picked it up and I highly recommend it.

This film apparently attempts to deal with the disparity of wealth between the poor and the richest 1% of America and the ramifications it has on society. Johnson has a tough task, and he clearly misses the mark. To his credit, Johnson gets a great deal of access and interviews the likes of Milton Friedman, Robert Reich, Steve Forbes and Ralph Nader. Although, the star of the film is a random taxi driver from Louisiana.

Johnson certainly has a definite viewpoint on economics that lies somewhere between Nader and Marx. Now, I have no problem if he wants to make a film extolling the views of socialism (which he calls progressiveness), but his style of editing was dreadfully unfair, especially in the case of Milton Friedman. Watching Johnson argue with a Nobel Prize winner like Friedman was just awkward. Johnson comes off looking like some arrogant snot-nosed kid who just took a college course in economics and is "educating" Milton Friedman as to the reasons why trickle-down economics is wrong. Eventually, Friedman gets up and ends the interview out of exasperation. Even if you don't agree with him, Friedman deserve a level of respect.

As for other flaws, he clearly needs an editor who knows how to make a cohesive film. While, he is very good at capturing footage revealing extreme wealth and extreme poverty, the viewer is left without figuring out what his point is. It appears one of his positions is to oppose efforts to repeal the inheritance (i.e. death) tax. He also argues for campaign finance reform and higher taxes on dividend income. Again, these are all legitimate positions to have, but the film is all over the place and he comes across that he's just personally guilty to receive all this wealth by way of inheritance.

As a filmmaker, Johnson's best skill appears to be making his interview subjects (always the rich people) look inarticulate, foolish and crass: even his own father. Considering how badly the father looked in "Born Rich", I'm surprised he agreed to be filmed in the second movie. Here's a warning to his family: If he is filming anywhere near you, do NOT sign the release.)

I truly hope this film is merely a sophomore slump and his future films are better.


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