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Robert Reich Stands Tall: Inequality for All

10/01/2013 10:15 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Just as the news seems bleak, a government shut down translating to national parks closing their gates to tourists, and workers home without pay, Google's celebration of Yosemite's anniversary seems especially ironic. The documentary Inequality for All turns its penetrating gaze onto another piece of evidence of meltdown: the vast gap between the 1% and 99%. The film delves into how we got to this economic chasm, which while not necessarily a new question, is interesting to look at spelled out, graphs and all. What's new is the focus on former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and his optimism.

Reich drives a mini-Cooper, a pint-sized car with which he identifies, he laughs. Lecturing in large auditoriums at Berkeley, he achieves standing ovations for encouraging his students to face inequalities, that their actions matter. A portrait of America in a not so great moment, Inequality for All is engrossing and cautionary, yet presents a point of view that the middle class may rise again.

At a New York premiere at the Paley Center for Media last week, Reich spoke to host Maria Cuomo Cole and her parents Mario and Mathilda Cuomo, among others: Aaron Sorkin, Albert Maysles, D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, and many media and film professionals. Police Commissioner Ray Kelley attended. Director Jacob Kornbluth said he made the film because he did not grow up rich, and since 2008, he wanted to investigate America's disparity in wealth. He assured me that even those who are normally not focused on economics like his film because of the Mario and Mathilda Cuomo, man at center. Given the film's economic focus, I found it funny that Kornbluth bet me a dollar that I would too. Liking it very much, at this moment, I owe him one.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.