CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY (2010 US) D/W/P: ALEX GIBNEY P: ALLISON ELLWOOD/ZENA BARAKAT
Scathing documentary on not just featured bagman Jack Abramoff, a Washington "uber-lobbyist" who was eventually imprisoned for his part in a complicated contribution campaign bribery swindle involving Native American casinos (one of several mind-boggling scams over the years), but the political culture that spawned and allowed him to prosper. Of particular interest is the historical background about the College Republicans of the 70s and 80s, the associations with Jonas Savimbi in Angola and South African Apartheid (the 1987 Dolph Lundgren vehicle RED SCORPION ties in to this), Newt Ginrich and other detestable characters (Tom DeLay is interviewed). The sequence on Saipan and the Mariana Islands is particularly apalling. Interviewees include authors Peter Stone (whose Heist: Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff was the blueprint) and Thomas Frank (author of The Wrecking Crew and others). Paul Rudd and Stanley Tucci provide voices. Some film clips are from MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), PATTON (1970) and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962). It's an important film I think, another in Gibney's line of quality docs, which include ENRON (2005), TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (2007) and GONZO (2008). It's better than the 2010 feature CASINO JACK, a well-meaning but heavy-handed satire from George Hickenlooper, starring Kevin Spacey as Abramoff.

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