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CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (director/writer: Alex Gibney; cinematographer: Maryse Alberti; editor: Plummy Tucker; music: Peter Nashel; Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Alex Gibney/Jedd Wider/Todd Wider/Maiken Baird; Magnolia; 2010)
I have no problem with Gibney’s doc, except all of it is common knowledge … .

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Documentarian Alex Gibney (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”/”Taxi to the Dark Side”/”Casino Jack and the United States of Money”) is writer and director of this informative doc on New York’s Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his sordid fall from power when caught in a scandal involving high-priced call girls in March 2008. The self-righteous Spitzer, after a year in office as governor and eight years as NY’s attorney general, where he was known as “the sheriff of Wall Street” for taking on the abuses of the bankers by actively prosecuting them. After Spitzer’s forced resignation from the governor’s office, these same bankers were allowed to police themselves without regulations and caused the downfall of the American free enterprise system.

The film uses on-camera interviews, talking-head interviews, photographs, news reports, and excellent location shots of a glittering New York, as the oily politician tries to explain his downfall in terms of a classic Greek tragedy. The pic seemed like just another endless political lesson to never trust either Wall Street or the politicians. The only thing I got out of this doc is to wonder if we actually had honest power-brokers looking after the public interest, could we have avoided the financial scandal. Spitzer was a bitter pill to digest because he was so arrogant, self-serving and hypercritical, making me think he got exactly what he deserved. Unfortunately, the public suffered the consequences and is still reeling from the many different forms of corruption within the American political system.

I have no problem with Gibney’s doc, except all of it is common knowledge (except why no Repubicans were outed who used the same Washington, D.C., hooker escort service) and all too familiar to provoke further anger. Gibney believes Spitzer’s downfall came not only from the politician’s character flaws–a tragedy of his own doing–but was helped along by the powerful corporate enemies he feuded with who were out to get him (powerful foes like AIG Chairman Hank Greenberg and billionaire Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone). To me that’s not a startling revelation, but just pointing out business as usual.

REVIEWED ON 12/22/2010 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”