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IN SHORT: Another Best of the Year. [Rated R for pervasive language, some violence and brief nudity. 108 minutes]
For those that remember a certain presidency that made a lot of rich, white dudes into richer white dudes, and then shredded the power of a number of congressional top dogs here it is on the big screen, for everyone else in the country that didn't pay any attention.
Those readers now screaming at their screens, just wait a couple of years. There'll be a movie about something in a Democratic regime that may floor us as much as Casino Jack did.
Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Pam (Kelly Preston) live an upper-class, very connected life. Abramoff is a professional lobbyist. He is professionally and otherwise, a good Jewish man attentive to certain laws of the Tribe that require, say, a kosher restaurant on K street in Washington D.C. He plans on opening top class private schools to send his children to. He's made millions with partner partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) arranging for Indian tribes to get their own money making casinos. He's also been fired a number of times for being an embarrasment to his law partners.
Then again, that's what a lobbyist faces in (his) daily trek up the Hill to influence members of the Congress of these United States. For Jack Abramoff, and less so for the clients that pay hm, "Everything is Negotiable." That doesn't make him a sterling example of the righteousness of the tribes. He is, perhaps, the guy that hate filled Christians will point to and go "See? SEE?!?" as the foremost example of how Washington has gone bad. Jews will watch this story and say "oy." Don't ask me to explain that. It would take too long. But enough about the tribe.
Abramoff needs his own source of income. So, with Scanlon and frontman/lackey Adam Kadan (Jon Lovitz) he takes a piece of in a Florida based offshore casino scheme. Helping out a nice Greek man who wants to sell his business and keep control of it at the same time. Watch the film for further explanation.
Abramoff's connections in D.C. go right to the Oval Office. Eventually he will use that connection on behalf of one his clients. He will make nice with the president and speaker of the House speaker of the House Tom DeLay (Spencer Garrett). Life will be very, very good.
Until it isn't.
Kevin Spacey wipes the floor in this one. Barry Pepper is aces as his Number One accomplice. The script is smooth, the direction well paced. Casino Jack offers up everthng to make boring Washington politics comprehensible and, perhaps, interesting.
Spacey should get Oscar for the performance but we suspect a certain one-armed man to take that statue away from him. We'll have to wait to see.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Casino Jack, he would have paid . . .
Yep, much higher than usual. Spacey is that good and, as written, the film took something boring and made it something interesting. Sadly so. Even sadder, director George Hickenlooper died this past October, and never got the word.
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