Saturday, March 26, 2011

Casino Jack (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

Casino Jack

If there was ever an actor to play a con artist lobbyist  with a song and dance man twist, it is Kevin Spacey. In the new film "Casino Jack", Spacey plays the notorious  Jack Abramoff. Abramoff was the "Super-lobbyist", a friend of many high level Republicans, who was convicted of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, mainly to Native American casinos  in 2006. Abramoff served four years in prison. He was apparently released in 2010, most recently working at a pizza place for ten dollars an hour.
Kevin Spacey portrays Abramoff with reptilian grace. Nothing can touch him. He has his smartphone in one hand and his tap shoes on his feet. He glides from one board room to the other. He is a pale Pillsbury Politico hiding in Dick Tracy's suit. His black fedora is a bit too big for his head. Abramoff, as well as Spacey, is only acting the part. It is the mixture of film and life that holds us in. When Abramoff is nervous he quotes Hollywood movie lines.  What a guy. Only Spacey could project a person with such slimy suaveness and get away with it.
Comedian Jon Lovitz steals the show as Adam Kidan, Abramoff's real life associate in the Suncruz Casino business. He is a smarmy over-the-hill court jester to Abramoff's cannibalistic methods. In the film, when doomed Gus Boulis stabs him repeatedly in the face with a common ball point pen, it is a real moment of comedy and horror that would make Carl Hiassen run to his typewriter.  We have seen Lovitz in other comic  roles before but the mixture of the savage and the silly is well balanced here. Aside from Spacey, his interpretation of Adam Kidan is most entertaining in its hopeless ridiculousness that is even a bit scary under the circumstances of the Boulis murder.
There are the usual plot sequences that we have seen in many films: extravagant wealth acquired by unscrupulous methods bring the tell-tale FBI to the door, but it doesn't seem to matter. Spacey is so sincerely insincere that he keeps us entertained. Spacey is the cool Jazzman of the white collar criminal. He hops from restaurant to restaurant and office to office like a political Thelonius Monk. Super-lobbyist? More like Super-snake salesman. 
By the end of the film, we almost believe that President Bush is the real criminal, by tossing Abramoff's pardon in the waste paper basket without a glance.
Write to Ian at

No comments: