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.
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?