Need a Good Dander Getter-Upper?

X I like a fun film as much as the next guy, and I’ve been dying to see “Bridesmaids.”  I also look for stuff that gives me some kind of insight on what’s going on in this crazy world—stuff that affects me and my family, BIG stuff that seems so outlandish I can’t wrap my head around it.  Sometimes a documentary or a bio pic brings me some insight or gives me a better jumping-off point for further reading than what I can glean from the news.  Recently I rented two DVDs that fell into that category, and I recommend them both.

The more entertaining one is “Casino Jack,” a biopic about lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  You know who he is, but do you know what kind of man he is, and do you really know what he did?  This movie will give you an idea.  The cast is terrific.  Kevin Spacey was nominated for an Oscar.  Barry Pepper—playing Abramoff’s partner in duplicity and crime, Michael Scanlon—is one of my favorites.  The wonderful Graham Greene plays the tribal councilman who’s wise to Abramoff from the get-go.  Jon Lovitz is terrific as the sleazy whack job the two bring in on their scheme to bilk several Indian tribes out of millions and million of dollars by representing them as lobbyists.  Basically this is a satire, and it reminds me of the Dustin Hoffman film “Little Big Man”—still a must-see in my book—which turned the “taming of the West” on its ear.  Indian gaming is an interesting phenomenon, and Indian casinos have played a part in some of my books.  But the K Street phenomenon and the explosion in the lobbying industry is something else.  This film add a little insight into what that something else is. 

Y And then there’s “Inside Job,” which won an Oscar for Best Documentary.  The log line reminds us that the 2008 financial crisis cost tens of millions of people their savings, jobs and homes.  “This is how it happened.”  Narrated by Matt Damon, the documentary puts the pieces together with engrossing detail, interviews, and the all-important history of the financial industry.  I’m a firm believer that if we don’t know our history, we’re doomed to repeat it, and while a film like this is, again, only one source of information, it’s well worth your time.  Take a look at the Inside Job website if you haven’t seen it.

This week I’ve watched “Gettysburg” and “Lee and Grant” on the History Channel—both very well done. 

What did you think of any of these if you’ve seen them?  Are you a documentary/biopic fan?  Have you seen any good ones lately?  Do you think they’re good eye-openers, or are they myopic?


About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in documentary, dvd, History channel, Inside Job, Casino Jack. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Need a Good Dander Getter-Upper?

  1. april says:

    That’s so weird. We just watched Too Big to Fail on HBO (which is the fictional account of the same story of Inside Job). We have Inside Job coming next on Netflix.

    I saw The Lincoln Lawyer, Hangover 2 and Bridesmaids in the last week. All good for different reasons. I really liked The Lincoln Lawyer. I didn’t know much about it going in, but I had passes that were going to expire.

    • Thanks for reminding me, April. The Lincoln Lawyer is another one that interests me. Good to know you liked it.

      I didn’t see Hangover, and #2 is obviously a huge hit. The trailers make them look like middle aged Animal House. Of course, I did love Animal House. Hmmm.

  2. Kylie Brant says:

    Great recommendations, Kathleen, thanks! Love Spacey and would really like to see that one.

  3. Michele says:

    I have Inside Job bookmarked to watch soon. I love documentaries and love that I can watch them on NetFlix any time. I tend toward the environmental/health genre, but they are all fascinating. SuperSize Me by Morgan Spurlock was quite an eye opener.

    • I’ve picked up several of the food/health films on your recommendation, Michele. And I’ve made some changes based on things I’ve learned from them. Awareness is everything. A new strain of e-coli in today’s news. We need to get serious about our food supply. Lobbying exascerbates this problem, too. This is no time to cut funding for FDA.

  4. Leanne Banks says:

    I don’t tend to seek out documentaries, but I watched the movie about Jack Kevorkian. Does that count? I found it fascinating. I have a hard time keeping my “dander” down from just reading my news.:) Great subject Kathleen!!!

    • It counts, especially with today’s news that he just died. Isn’t Pacino terrific in that one? Saw an interview with Dr. K after the film came out, and he said he thought Pacino was the only actor who could play him. I agree. He was quite a character, and the title “You Don’t Know Jack” fit perfectly. He was caring and courageous and a little crazy. Fascinating character.

  5. Aside: Writing this post had me checking the origin of the expression “get my dander up.” No definitive answer–it’s old–but I like the image from the theory that it may come from from ‘dander’, meaning ‘ferment’, and the froth that comes from that process. Apparently Samuel Goldwyn (MGM) was known for his malapropisms, and he coined “get my danderuff up.”

    I know. Weird fascination. But I’m a word freak.

  6. Candace Schuler says:

    Another food-related eye-opener documentary is Food, Inc. It changed the way I eat.

  7. Denise says:

    I watched Gettysburg and Lee and Grant this past week. I thought they were great, although they probably could have given Lee and Grant each a separate show. I haven’t seen too many biopic movies, and in fact can’t even think of one that I have seen, but I love watching the History Channel and other channels like that to watch documentaries. I watched a documentary called something like The Real Blackhawk Down and after that I didn’t think I could watch the movie on it.

  8. Great reviews. I want to see both. I caught part of Too Big Too Fail on HBO and want to get back to it.

    BTW, my mom and I saw Something Borrowed (based on the novel of the same name by Emily Giffin) and we both really enjoyed it.

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