Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream (2012) Poster

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Excellent. Infuriating. Frightening
Joe Bob Jones12 November 2012
Short and sweet, Park Avenue is an excellent documentary about the class warfare in existence in the US. It succinctly blends figures with interviews into a fabric of one hour of eye popping financial realities for the uninitiated. The vast sums of money at work from a tiny fraction of our nation, but imbued with enormous wealth, control the strings of democracy. This one hour piece puts it together into one very powerful, useful, and important message, culminating with the fruits of market deregulation which nearly brought down the entire nation: the Great Recession and crash of 2008. Watch it. I would challenge the conservative to view this objectively and come away with the same laissez faire attitudes toward our nation.
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You owe it to yourself to know more about what's going on behind the scenes of the political and corporate influence
nhupho2 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In this short documentary which is about an hour long, you'll get to understand more of the mindset that brought us our current extreme inequality : greed & power, as well political influence by the wealthiest. It dispels the myth of how "benevolent" & deceitful the wealthy elite can act towards the base that supports them. It shows how money can buy some politicians who loudly promises to reform tax laws but will bury it at the first opportunity.

This documentary will not make more friends out of right-wingers or Republicans (ex: Paul Ryan). It's a captivating documentary but way too short as it's still only one piece of the whole puzzle. This movie states what the problems are but cannot present solutions and we're left to our own devices.

As an excellent complement to this documentary, watch the PBS documentary "Big Sky, Big Money". You'll discover how much unaccountable shadow money can influence & subvert American politics!

If you're serious about knowing more, documentaries/movies such as "Inside Job", "The Shock Doctrine", "The Revolution will not be televised", "The Take", "Zeitgeist Moving forward" will help further your understanding of the social/financial changes that needs to take place if we're to have a sustainable future or ANY future at all...
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Powerful, unsettling
Pope Ratzo4 September 2013
It let's the rich and powerful speak in their own words, telling their own story of entitlement, selfishness, and disregard of anyone who is not equally rich and powerful. They unintentionally give us a glimpse into a world that is usually wrapped in gauze and press agents.

Forget about your political ideology for a moment and watch this movie. Nobody puts words in the mouths of people like Jack Abramoff or Michele Bachamann. They're saying what's on their minds. If you've come to believe that something about the promise of America has gone wrong, just watch this movie with an open mind. You'll come away wondering what's more important to the elite: making more money for themselves, or making sure nobody else makes any.

The editing is first rate, and the pace is good. The story comes through loud and clear without having to be pushed in your face. Watch this movie.
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An Incredible Look At the State of the Economy
gavin69421 July 2013
Is class warfare the rich against the poor, or is it the ultra-rich pitting the middle-class against the poor (and each other)? While maybe not objective, this documentary looks at the power behind the politics.

I love that Jack Abramoff appears here and speaks candidly. I do not care whether he feels he was right or wrong, but that he is able to come forward and explain how the game is played really adds to our understanding.

I further love the film's turn towards David Koch and from there towards the state of Wisconsin (where I have lived over 30 years). It was great to see familiar faces like Mahlon Mitchell and Mark Pocan, and hear the connection between Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan.

We even got to see real folks in Waukesha and hear more of the Scott Walker prank phone call. From the start it looked like we would be focusing on the Park Avenue of Manhattan versus the Park Avenue of the Bronx. I am glad it went beyond that. Will other non-Dairy State viewers enjoy it as much? I cannot say.
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Tells it like it is. Eye opening/Mind opening
I came across the documentary on good old Netflix. A great rainy day documentary turned on the light in my mind once again to research more....about economy, the psychological effects of consumerism/class/rank on certain people, inflation, the justice system, women's rights etc. That's when you know a documentary is good--It encourages you to want to dig for the truth even more than before.

I've wondered many times: Why is our world set up like it is? What does it mean to be a human being? Where's the spiritual/soul growth in this economic cut-throat kind of game? This documentary gives you a glimpse of the kind of tactics/warfare certain political figures will pull to keep this economic war going. I wish this documentary was longer and went into further psychological realms and that's kind of what sparks you to do independent research afterward. It's a really great starter and introduction to life/economic/education problems in America.

This war on happiness/our way of life is corrupted by relentless inequality/unjust players and financial discrimination and it will never end until the embers of greed have cooled...

Remember this, "After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box."
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This should be required project starting from middle school through University
SoonerArrow10 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is quite an eye-opener regarding the incestuous relationships between the über-wealthy, corporations, political action committees, Congress and even the U.S. President. Like I say in the title to this post, it should be a mandatory study portion in any Civics, U.S. Government, Economics and even US History classes at all levels of education starting in 6th Grade. Each student should delve more deeply and asked to write a paper with proposed solutions to this issue.

It very plainly explains how the top 1% of the top 1% (and even the top 10% too) of the wealthy in this country wield true power through their money. I don't believe it's a bad thing to be wealthy or even über- wealthy; it is how they use that money that is offending to me.

If the top 400 wealthiest people in our country would donate even 2% of their annual net worth (not salaries or bonuses) at Thanksgiving each year, this money (probably into the billions range) would go a long way to reduce hunger in America and they could create many endowed scholarships at many universities or to local Community Colleges to help the middle and lower classes to become empowered to earn their way up.

Luckily, we do have a good number of very civic minded billionaires in our country, beginning with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, who created the "The Giving Pledge" ( and I would estimate that over one-half who have signed the pledge are Americans. This philanthropic endeavor is estimated, as of July 2010, to worth in excess of $125 BILLION dollars. Today, it must exceed @00 BILLION.

On a personal note, the list also includes a very special lady, Lynn Schusterman, who I've met and worked for her now deceased husband, Charles Schusterman, at his primary business, oil and gas production. Their daughter Stacey has been the CEO since shortly before her father passed. This family has done so much for our state, Oklahoma, by contributing to the University of Oklahoma (OU). As a matter of fact my hometown, Tulsa, would probably never have an OU campus, if not for Lynn and their family Schusterman Foundation. She's very active in family and children's services and a slew of other organizations that badly need their assistance. Charles, Lynn and Stacy, who I all met and spoke to on numerous occasions, were all very approachable and very caring about his employees. Much like Warren Buffett, Charles was down to earth and a hard worker. I would be remiss if I did not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars of giving and active management of those resources by T. Boone Pickens, to our other state run university, Oklahoma State. He's given to OU and many other organizations here. We are very lucky to have these two fine families call our state, home.

I'm not believer in conspiracy theories like "A One World Nation", "The Bilderberg's", "Trilateral Commission", Yale's "Skull & Bones", the Freemason's and the list could on and on. The fact is that once you acquire a vast amount of wealth, through any means, you get a seat at the table with the political power broker's. Especially, since SCOTUS gave corporations the right to been seen and treated as an individual person that then allowed them to make almost unlimited campaign contributions stemming from the "Citizen's United" case.

Politician's need money like humans need air. That is an inextricable fact. Also, this documentary states unequivocally that it's the lobbyists who actually write the legislation that comes to floor of either house of Congress with little or few modifications. I wasn't overly surprised but surprised and concerned enough to ask this one question:


Watch "Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream (2012)" and then, decide for yourself.
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Fact or fiction? Or both?
erikja6 July 2016
I watched this movie with great interest - and read the reviews with almost the same interest, especially those criticizing the movie. For me this actually underpins one of the movie's important messages: the challenge for society with very conflicting world views. Basically, I think it is almost impossible to make the perfect documentary, at least when it comes to social and psychological matters. If you want to include everything the movie will be extremely detailed and complicated. So - you have to choose an angle, as every writer on history do. By choosing to highlight one aspect of an issue, you necessarily will have to skip others. But does this mean that you cannot learn anything from the story told? No. As a Scandinavian I am very eager to achieve a deeper understanding of the American society since it has a profound influence on the rest of the world- and I must say I disagree completely with Brian, also from Denmark, when stating that Gibneys movie was a waste of time. The movie seems to me very clearly to document a serious problem for the stability of the American society, based apparently on very different ways of perceiving and interpreting the surrounding world. But a difference with vast consequences for the less powerful and well-off population. Of course you will be able to point your fingers at aspects in any documentary, as mentioned before - but does that mean that the remainder of the movie is irrelevant, as Brian seems to think? For me - no. His argument is for me merely a fig leaf for avoiding a discussion of very serious matters. Thanks and credit for Alex Gibney for presenting this thought-provoking movie for us, and for giving us the opportunity to continue investigating and reflecting.
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Lean left but is pretty fair.
carbuff11 May 2015
Definitely left-wing viewpoint on growing inequalities in income, wealth and opportunity in America, but everything said seems to be basically correct and defensible.

Quite a few interesting facts presented in a short and very watchable program. Harder on Republicans than Democrats, but both look bad, and the bias is easily justified by reality. I knew the Koch brothers contributed a lot of money to a lot of extreme right- wing organizations with the intent of protecting their wealth, but until this documentary, I didn't realize how truly mind-boggling their interference in the political process was, and I am pretty well-read and educated on these matters.

This documentary left me feeling very ambivalent, because I have made good money on investments, but at the same time it is pretty apparent that America's economic system is fundamentally unfair. (Of course, I knew that before this documentary, because I pay very close attention to the financial world for my own personal purposes.) I experience some cognitive dissonance after watching shows like this--the current system is pretty good for me, but is almost certainly not "just" in any sense of the word.

Truth be told, it leaves me in no rush wanting any changes for purely selfish reasons, as bad as that sounds. That is, no doubt, the problem with ever truly overhauling the American economic system, taxes or otherwise. The people who are profiting vastly more than I am, also have vastly more political power than I do, and are vastly less inclined than I am to do anything against their self- interest, as this brief documentary well points out.
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Depressing but real
maitre-miyamoto3 March 2014
Although very upsetting, this documentary was great. I wouldn't give it a 10 because it was a little short and incomplete. Interestingly, most of the people incriminated in this documentary declined to comment. It would have been nice to hear their point of view and comments on some of their speeches featured in the documentary.

It seems that the only reviewers who didn't like this documentary just hated it. This says a lot more about them than it does about the documentary, which included a lot of plain economic facts. How can you disagree with facts? It's hard not to be shocked by some of the data presented here. I actually find it ironic that a lot of Republicans argue that America has become a communist country when the gap between the rich and the poor has never been bigger, and that lobbies sponsored by corporations draft every bill in this country. It is depressing to think that some people would be so gullible.

Taxes for the rich have never been lower either. Many lower and middle class Americans get manipulated into rooting for the 1 % thinking that it will benefit them in the long run. Fact is, thanks to the Bush tax cuts, the rich has never paid as little tax. The argument was that this would create millions of jobs. All it really did was increasing our deficit by several trillions.

Even though it won't gel with everyone, this documentary is a must-see.
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sree46719 July 2013
I'm not an American citizen. I just live in America temporarily, so what I could provide is only an outsider view. First thing I felt after watching around half of this documentary is that it is biased and partial towards one political party. Also, it presented a complete partial view of Ayn Rand. It projected her as an evil of the poor. This documentary simply failed to understand that her philosophy applies to poor as much as it applies to the rich. You work hard two shifts back to back for a wage less than 20 usd pr hr and if you are forcefully asked to pay 30% of tax on it, how would you feel ? That was her point. This point applies equally to poor and the rich. This documentary failed to present this view, may be intentionally.
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shocks, and leaves you hanging
awasko218 March 2014
Review of: Alex Gibney's Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream Alex Gibney's Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream, is a documentary that compares the Park Avenue in Manhattan, NY to the Park Avenue of the South Bronx, NY. Gibney starts out by showing the audience the residential building 740 Park Avenue. Here, is the home of the most billionaires living on one block (and building), in all of the United States. The Film focuses on Economic Development and Inequality by using the comparison of the Park Avenue billionaires to the Park Avenue residents of the South Bronx.

Eventually the director focuses his attention to these billionaires and the United States government. He brings up points that tie the interests of these billionaires to the way in which the government is currently corruptly run. He uses the classic "School House Rock" cartoon "I'm Just a Bill" to show that maybe in 1975 (when the cartoon came out) the S.H.R. interpretation may had been factual and educational in teaching kids how the system works. Today however, the reality up on Capitol Hill bares no resemblance to the cartoon. Today, bills rarely make it to the house to be voted on.

Gibney goes on to make strong ties between Ann Rand's ideologies of capitalism in her book Atlas Shrugged with the underlying beliefs of certain CEO billionaires like the Koch brothers and Republican Senator Paul Ryan. Gibney is here stating that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party members have all been bought. They no longer have the interests of the voters, but they have the interests of the lobbyists who give them money for their campaigns.

Gibney goes on and on giving examples of how corrupt the government system is today, and says that billionaires including the ones who live in 740 Park Avenue are constantly playing the game of capitalism. They know that in order for them to become richer, others have to become poorer. This is why they want to have close ties in Washington in order to get the bills they want passed.

Although the film succeeds in lifting any veil that was hiding the ugly truths about our government system, it does not offer any solutions. Sure it gives us statistics and pie charts letting us know just how poor the majority of American citizens have become, while the 1% has only gotten richer. It ties this subject back into the beginning of the film where at one end of Park Avenue lives people in the 1%, while at the other side of Park Avenue in the South Bronx lives people in poverty struggling to give their kids shelter and an education.

At some point in the film I was waiting for some logical solution scenarios to pop up. Gibney does a great job at making me shocked and angry at how the country's government no longer has the interests of the majority of its citizens in mind, but that is all I felt after it was over, angry. I felt angry and helpless. Maybe this film was produced by the 1% to scare us and put us down. Gibney really missed the marked on the ending of this film. It was surprising to see how stingy billionaires in 740 Park Avenue to their doormen, as one who was interviewed in the film said for Christmas he only received a $50 check from David Koch.

What about the Park Avenue residents in the South Bronx? Their identities weren't given to us like the billionaires at 740 Park. They were mentioned very briefly and then forgotten until the last few minutes of the film. Gibney should have and could have interviewed a sociologist, professor of economics or urban planner in order to get their thoughts on how to improve the inequality of the blighted areas like the South Bronx. There is no need to only give the audience the disastrous details of America's economy without also mentioning the theories and plans being devised in order to rebuild and fix the enormous inequality gap.

It makes me wonder if Gibney really believes in change for the better, or if his priority all along was just to scare his audience into a nihilist persona. If I had to rate this film on a scale of 1 to 5, I would give it a 2.5. It is not boring, and it will keep you watching, but it will leave you sorely disappointed.
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Mostly fictional, sort of like Harry Potter for grown-ups.
skadidpm25 April 2015
I am glad I watched this film carefully and critically. There's a subtle guise to make it look objective, scapegoating Schumer and casting a generally negative light on the DNC too. Our system is undoubtedly broken. However, as an economist, I can't take this film seriously because more than a dozen charts and graphs shown here lack sources and footnotes. In my world, un- cited data is worthlessly dangerous and usually depicts fiction. Because I am intimately familiar with the actual data, (BEA, BLS, COB, etc) I am comforted by reality and know that the "experts" here are not lying; they are simply stupid people.

Further though, the poverty pimping respondents featured in the film suffer from denial. The dumbing down of America is very real and is a pervasive snowball. I've been dead-ass broke 2 times in my adult life and I strived myself out of the hole, unassisted. I smirk with amazement that the fricken bell-boy complained about a $50 Christmas gift from someone (David Koch) who was not obligated to to give anything. Yet he hides his face and voice and pines that he somehow deserves more? If he could only see that Mr. Koch is doing him a favor. The kind of entitlement propagated here and throughout 'progressive' America is shameful. I have no sympathy or compassion for the "experts" featured in this hack piece nor especially for the bell- hop. But if you rated this film above a 6, my heart bleeds for you. You have all my compassion.

PS: One reviewer who loved this film wrote they were "surprised it wasn't nominated for an Oscar". Ironically, so am I.
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Very one sided, very biased, pathetic.
pismo1020 January 2014
As soon as I heard "a recession caused by bankers across the river" I knew the rest was going to be a joke and it was. The centralists in DC caused our latest economic woes, nobody else. Very silly mocumentary based on pure ignorance of the world as it is today and a total ignorance of history. If you want to see poverty just follow the prescription implied by this "film" and the US will be swimming in nothing but a lower and lower standard of living. Production made America, not welfare. Productivity created the middle class, not regulations and unions(which hurt the middle class more than all else combined by shipping everything overseas) Very liberal, very today, very hip but totally inaccurate assessment of the US.
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Waste of time
Brian5 April 2015
This film should not be categorized as a documentary. It's more like political propaganda. Don't waste your time watching it. Subjects like Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, the Tea Party movement, and the whole Republican community, are described from a left wing perspective only. Money is bad, welfare demands are good. If you expect an objective description of the American society and history, this is absolutely not the film to watch.

However, if you are a Democrat not open for other perspectives than your own, this fictional movie probably will fit you well. Pop some popcorn, because after watching it you're feeling good, still convinced that every problem on earth is the rich people's responsibility
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A few points but one sided!
otownbjj12 September 2013
The film brings up valid points about lobbyists controlling Washington. However from someone who is middle class I do not believe the answers are more taxes on wealthy people by increasing capital gains taxes. That would also increase the taxes on MY 401k!! I'm middle class! The film also takes on the topic welfare a food stamps. As someone who works in low income areas I can assure you first hand that the abuse of the welfare system is staggering. Every day at work I deal with countless people receiving welfare/food stamps. In the last 6 months I can count on one hand those that are truly disabled and in need of assistance. The vast majority are those that refuse to work and furthermore have children they cannot afford. This as the amount that I pay for my health care as well my child's health care has increased dramatically. OBAMACARE.... BLAME WASHINGTON NOT RICH PEOPLE. Our elected officials have been bought. VOTE THEM ALL OUT AND START OVER!!!
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What a piece of crap!
cvandoren-29 July 2013
Written totally from the Obama point of view. What made America great was capitalism, even if you don't want to admit it. From the railroads to the oil, these guys made it happen and made us the greatest country in the world! You want to be like France and Spain, then stay the course. They had the most skin in the game, they should reap the greatest rewards. If you don't like it, go out and do something better. Quit waiting for someone to spoon feed you. Go get your food stamps and welfare, continue sitting on your ass, you contribute nothing to this great country. We need more like the Koch brothers to make this country great.
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