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CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY (director/writer: Alex Gibney; cinematographer: Maryse Alberti; editor: Alison Ellwood; music: David Robbins; cast:oice-overs by Stanley Tucci (Jack Abramoff), Paul Rudd (Michael Scanlon); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Alex Gibney/Alison Ellwood/Zena Barakat; Magnolia; 2010)
“Dully tells the blood-boiling story of the convicted disgraced conservative superlobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alex Gibney (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”/”Taxi to the Dark Side”/”Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”) loads up his doc with details already covered in the newspapers, as he dully tells the blood-boiling story of the convicted disgraced conservative super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff–a villain, if ever there was one, but far from the only rotten apple in the barrel. This is the story of greed, the push for unregulated capitalism and widespread political corruption caused by lobbyists, that includes the sleazy influence-peddling of the following conservative Republicans: Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and many other like-minded sleazeballs.

It picks up the story from Abramoff’s Young Republican days when he was pumped-up by the Reagan Revolutionas a conservative idealogue and after a brief stopover in Hollywood arrived in Washington in time for the 1995 Republican takeover of Congress. Abramoff became a lobbyist and used his Republican contacts, especially with power brokers like House Majority leader DeLay, to make a fortune for himself and his associates by doing some of the following criminal things: arranging with his political contacts to allow his client Chinese sweatshop owners to have immigrants forced to be indentured slaves in the factories of the United States’ Mariana Islands in Saipan, working out fraudulent schemes as a lobbyist to bilk the Indian Reservation casinos of millions and arranging a suspicious sale of the SunCruz Casinos–where the former casino owner was executed gangster style when he wouldn’t leave.

The unwieldy film has value for reminding us how sleazy Abramoff and his cronies are and how they got Congress to deregulate Wall Street. What followed was the financial collapse of the American capitalist system due to the many unsavory schemes cooked up by the Wall Street money men, who are untrustworthy to regulate themselves. Unfortunately the film has little bite (its scope is too broad and by using actors voices for the main sleazeballs, the pic loses its force), even though what it tells us should make us all sick (especially knowing that while Abramoff is currently in prison for a four-year tem, his type of unethical lobbyist activities are still with us).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”