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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010)


Lies, cheats, and steals? Yup, total package.

Jack Abramoff lived life unlike most people. For one, he always had a dream and desire to be in a movie of his own, so in a way, he used his real life as an actual movie, in and of itself. When he was young, he was head of his College Republicans group, and then decided that he wanted to be something of a film-maker, acting as a producer on one such flick. At this time, however, Abramoff was very paranoid about Communism and the country’s certain enemies, so he decided to make right with the political power and throw all of his power, support, and most importantly, money, the way of certain politicians. In other words, Jack was a lobbyist and didn’t at all try to hide it, however, it’s his ways, codes and ethics that he chose to live by, that get him, as well as plenty others working with him, in the slammer.

Even if he was in jail for a measly five years.

"I do, solemnly swear, that I am a total deuche."

“I do, solemnly swear, that I am a total deuche.”

Once again, when Alex Gibney sees an injustice, his doesn’t just sit around, folding his arms, throwing chairs, and trying to get over it all with a tub of ice cream. Instead, he’ll get up, grab his camera, call-up his crew, and see just who he can get a chance to talk to and help himself, as well as us, the audience, understand whatever story there is to be documented and focused on. Because of this, Gibney has become a trustworthy and inspirational voice in the documentary world; sure, he’s like Michael Moore in the sense that he makes it clear of his agenda right off the bat, but he’s also more journalistic, allowing for these stories to just tell themselves as they are.

And Abramoff’s story is one worth telling, if not just for the interest-factor, but because it makes you more and more angry as it runs along, and more of the heinous details come to life. Gibney makes it obvious from the beginning that he doesn’t necessarily care for Abramoff, as much as he cares about what the guy actually represents – this idea that greed, respect and power, can all come to you in some sort of way, as long as money is involved. He doesn’t like how Abramoff single handedly used his cunning and conniving ways to get closer and closer to the Oval Office, and he especially doesn’t like how it seems like every person that Abramoff talked to, instantly fell for the guy.

But being mad can only get you so many places, especially when someone like Abramoff exists and still does, to this very day.

The movie doesn’t try to paint him in a sympathetic light, and nor should it; after all, he’s the one guy who ripped-off and screwed over Native American tribes for nearly a $1 billion, just so that he could get him and his buddies more cash in their pockets. Why? Well, it’s because they hard more smooth-talking to do with certain people in the political system and in order to make sure that they’re happy as you are, they need to have all sorts of money.

But things brings up a certain idea that I don’t even know if Gibney himself had intended to talk about:The idea that there is such as “too much money”.

In this sense, what I mean to say is that there’s almost too much money in the political system, and especially, in elections. Throughout the flick, we are told of who Abramoff gave money to run for campaign reasons, as well as how much the totals were, which are important facts, because they can be pretty startling. The movie never actually gets on the case of the Presidential election cycle system itself, as much as he brings up the fact that someone like Abramoff, who was ripping-off innocent people, left and right, was still able to give all sorts of money that his little, evil and angry heart desired to do.

Well, if Bush liked him, than he can't be that bad, right?

Well, if Bush liked him, than he can’t be that bad, right?

Once again, though: Is there such a thing as “too much”?

Gibney shows that all of the extra cars, women, houses, parties, and yes, money, can eventually lead a person to do all sorts of mean and detestable things that, even when they were young and inspired, didn’t ever think they’d become. In fact, if there’s a problem to be had with Casino Jack, is that we actually don’t ever get to chance to talk to, or hear from Jack himself. Sure, it makes sense – he was in jail and probably didn’t want to be bothered – but it also feels as if there’s something missing from here, when all is said and done.

Of course, there’s something to be said for the movie, in how Gibney allows for key-witness and character witness give their own ideas and opinions on Abramoff and his wrong-doings, allowing for us to make up our own conclusions of what type of person he is. This is fine, but really, it would have helped especially more, had Jack himself showed up to give his own two cents. Sure, those two cents could have been total lies and meant absolutely nothing, but the fact that he would have gotten in front of the camera, told us what he thought, and threw himself out there to be even more dissected than he’s already been, would have helped.

Maybe not him and his case, but the rest of the movie.

Either way, he didn’t need our help anyway.

Consensus: Gibney hits another winner, showing Jack Abramoff off in all of his actions and misgivings, all of which are as blood-boiling, as the last, questionable action to have come before. That said, why no Jack?

7 / 10

Oh, with a hat like that, never mind.

Oh, with a hat like that, never mind.

Photos Courtesy of: Cut the Crap Movie Reviews

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