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Movie Review: Casino Jack

Alternate Title: Take the Money and Run

Story: This was a very busy and uneven film considering how important a subject it covered. Director George Hickenlooper and writer Norman Snider chose to make the Jack Abramoff, super-lobbyist scandal more of an action, caper film than a documentary. It did not work for me. Alex Gibney's recent documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money was a better choice. Perhaps I have no sense of humor when it comes to influence peddling and abuse of power.

If you are not familiar with this political scandal (and as time marches on, fewer people will remember) Jack Abramoff took the profession of lobbying to new heights of corruption and influence. His shenanigans under the George W, Bush administration's realm ultimately sent him off to prison and disgraced a few other politicos (not enough of them were punished as far as I am concerned).

Hickenlooper focus' on two of the many pockets that Abramoff chose to pick - the American Indian casino scandal and an off-shore gambling enterprise. As depicted, it is confusing, undeveloped and does not emphasize the seriousness of his crimes.

That said - students of politics like me, might want to see the film as a reminder of how ugly and corrupt Washington DC is and remains.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxVJXomfsHo
Acting: Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff has not been this animated in a long time. It was good to see him back in form. Barry Pepper as Michael Scanlon was appropriately slimy. Kelly Preston as Pam Abramoff was forgettable. Jon Lovitz as Adam Kidan was a buffoon. Rachelle Lefevre as Emily Miller should have had a bigger part. Maury Chaykin as Big Tony was good and Spencer Garrett as Tom DeLay was not smarmy enough for me.

Trivia: George Hickenlooper (May 25, 1963 – October 29, 2010) was an American narrative and documentary filmmaker.His first feature-length documentary, Hearts of Darkness, explored the making of Apocalypse Now. It won several awards, including the National Board of Review award for "Best Documentary", an American Cinema Editors award for "Best Edited Documentary", two Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards for "Outstanding Individual Achievement – Informational Programming – Directing" and "Outstanding Individual Achievement – Informational Programming – Picture Editing", and the International Documentary Association award. Hickenlooper himself won an Emmy for direction.

Predilection: I like films about politics

Critters: None

Sex Spectrum: No sex but lots of women in various stages of undress.

Soundtrack: Fun

Opening Titles: The opening sequence features a soliloquy by Abramoff.. Other than the title all credits are at the end. You get a glimpse of the real Abramoff during the credit role.

Theater Audience: About 30 other people on an opening weekend morning.

Weather: No significance.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: I squirm at the sliminess of Washington DC

Drift Factor: I did not drift but I am sure others will find the film too confusing and will drift.

Predictability Level: If you know the story there are no surprises.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Either will do.

Length: Under two hours