I caught Alex Gibney’s documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, when it premiered at Sundance in January. It finally begins its theatrical release this weekend, and comes at a Gibney-centric time in Manhattan. He directed two feature films, and one chapter of another, that all premiered at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. Casino Jack did not screen at Tribeca this year, but you’d be forgiven if you assumed it had.
Gibney’s first documentary released since his Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side, this is a gripping and entertaining spiritual cousin to his breakthrough film, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. A historical look at lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s career as a powerful manipulator, Casino Jack allows the audience to examine the greed-based influence of the Reagan era, and the shady deals that took place when some influential men became inspired to perpetuate financial corruption within the U.S. government. Whether you consider yourself a “conservative,” a “liberal,” or neither, I feel it’s hard not to be riveted by this account of how Abramoff helped ruin the system. Like all of Gibney’s documentaries, this one is a dense and comprehensive, but it also rewards the viewer. Casino Jack opens in many cities between this weekend and the end of June. Here’s the trailer: