Casino Jack and the United States of Money

MEET JACK ABRAMOFF – AMERICA’S GREATEST LOBBYIST.

 

The story of Jack Abramoff is perfect fodder for a documentary and a fictionalized film – and both were released in 2010 (the latter one being Casino Jack with Kevin Spacey). The former is a slick experience that takes inspiration from Hollywood movies in clever ways – one is easily drawn into the tale of how Abramoff became a prominent college Republican and learned how to use money and seize every shady opportunity that came his way to get ahead in Washington. Pride goes before destruction is an obvious theme here, and compelling interviews with powerful former friends and allies of Abramoff (like Tom DeLay and Bob Ney) clarify how far the corruption went in this case. Done with a sense of humor, but there’s no mistaking its outrage.

2010-U.S. 118 min. Color. Produced by Zena Barakat, Alison Ellwood, Alex Gibney. Written and directed by Alex Gibney.

Trivia: In parts where e-mail conversations between Abramoff and Michael Scanlon are read out, the men’s voices are done by Stanley Tucci and Paul Rudd.

Last word: “It’s always hard to get to people. This film took a long time in part because of that. I tried very hard to get to Jack. But, in waiting to get to Jack, we got Bob Ney. I’d written him many times in prison. When he got out, one of my producers, Zena Barakat, met him through another means and pitched it to him again and finally he agreed. That was just tremendous for us for all sorts of reasons because Bob was like the sous-chef in the kitchen of the world’s biggest Chinese restaurant. When you finally see how the sausage is made, it’s terrifying. You don’t really want to know, but he tells you.” (Gibney, Collider)

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