Several centuries ago, William Shakespeare wrote “all the world’s a stage.” The statement remains accurate, but perhaps the best modern revision of his quote would be “all the world’s a market” or “all the world is a product.” Alex Gibney, the ever-ready documentarian of our times, continues his pattern of presenting a particularly disturbing episode and then explaining the cultural factors that caused it.
He did it to the luster of an Oscar in “Taxi to the Dark Side” in 2007, and in 2010, he did it again with “Casino Jack and the United States of Money” (albeit without Oscar gold). His look at the culture of corruption running rampant in Washington, D.C. is absolutely frightening. Seriously, it will make you want to audit your Congressman.
Lobbyists have always been very buddy-buddy with Congress, getting their foot in the proverbial door of a Representative to convince them of the benefits of passing certain legislation (that’s in favor of their client, of course). And Jack Abramoff was the ultimate lobbyist. A prime salesman and great people-person, Abramoff rode into Washington on the coattails of the Republican Revolution of 1994. Sadly for Hollywood, this meant no more films from Abramoff, a producer who wrote a 1989 Dolph Lundgren jingoistic action film.
Unfortunately for Native Americans and poor Pacific Islanders, though, Abramoff got to work with the new leadership in Congress and managed to get big money for himself, for his cronies, and for his buddies in the House. See Jack bribe, see Jack corrupt, see Jack get brought down. And pick your jaw off the floor when it’s all wrapped up. It takes a lot for a documentary to get you worked up, but Gibney does it with ease. (Oh, and don’t worry, Jack is already out of prison too.)