108 Minute Running Time
The vile shenanigans of notorious Bush-era lobbyist Jack Abramoff have inspired two films this year, so anyone who didn't get enough of them via Alex Gibney's documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money can stop by for seconds, courtesy of George Hickenlooper—cousin to Colorado’s own John Hickenlooper and a frequent festival guest (Hick Town, SDFF32; Mayor of the Sunset Strip; SDFF26).
In Hickenlooper's often hilarious, slightly fictionalized take on the insatiably power-hungry Abramoff—played with oily élan by the masterful Kevin Spacey—Casino Jack (so named for his shady pressure play against a South Florida casino operator) is the very picture of profane and ruthless self-interest. As he cooks up schemes to establish a personal gambling empire, this amoral scoundrel digs himself deeper and deeper into trouble, but he's blind to all consequence. “You're either a big leaguer or you're a slave,” Abramoff crows, dead certain of his own status. But when big-time politics, as practiced by the high-powered lobbyists of K Street, run headlong into the cold ambition of organized crime, a crisis erupts that threatens not only Casino Jack and his family but the Bush White House as well.
Spacey's bravura performance is complemented by those of Barry Pepper as Abramoff's slick spin doctor and Jon Lovitz as his mobbed-up partner in the casino game. To ensure authenticity, director Hickenlooper and screenwriter Norman Snider spent many hours interviewing their subject—a big movie fan—in federal prison.
DIRECTOR: George Hickenlooper
Producer: Gary Howsman, Bill Marks, George Zakk
Editor: William Steinkamp
Screenwriter: Norman Snider
Cinematographer: Adam Swica
Principal Cast: Kevin Spacey, Kelly Preston, Rachelle Lefevre, Barry Pepper, Eric Schweig