Mar 28, 2011 12:35 PM EST

Are You Ready For Casino Jack This April?

Are You Ready For Casino Jack This April?
Casino Jack is the latest film starring Kevin Spacey, excellent actor who over the years has pulled back from the public eye of Hollywood to focus on other projects. This particular film centers on the scandal involving Jack "Casino Jack" Abramoff who got caught along with Michael Scanlon, played by Barry Pepper in the film, in what was touted as the biggest impropriety since Watergate.

Like many other films, such as The Manchurian Candidate, Wag the Dog, The Contender, Primary Colors, and Frost/Nixon, Casino Jack focuses on the scandal involving the key players. Films that are advertised as "based on true events" are generally taken with a bit of skepticism. Hollywood is notorious for altering certain key events to make things more interesting and entertaining for the movie going audience. In a film like Wag the Dog, where the President is involved in a scandal right before election season. It seems like his bid for re-election is lost when his advisors hire a "spin" doctor and a famous Hollywood producer to create a fake war in Albania which the President can heroically end through mass media. True nothing like this has ever occurred, not that we know of, but this film uses comedy to play on a common idea that if there is a problem at home, a larger one somewhere else will focus attention elsewhere. The film is a bit off beat but does the job set out to do, which is mock our own society and the way in which our government goes about its business. Wag the Dog: B

The Manchurian Candidate is about a man who has been unknowingly brainwashed and sent out to perform assassinations for opposing governments. There were two versions of this film, the first with Frank Sinatra, and the remake starring Denzel Washington. Both films offer a look at the lengths governments will go to win a war. This movie is more of a thriller that uses political cover up as its vehicle; because quite frankly even with all the devastating things going on in the world, the idea of a government brainwashing someone to do its dirty work just seems highly unlikely and given the world we live in today it just doesn't seem realistic. The Manchurian Candidate: C+

Primary Colors, like Wag the Dog, uses comedy to tell its story. This time the film is a "disguised expose" about the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton and focuses on a president who means well but has a weakness for the opposite sex, just not women. This movie did its best to not comment on the relationship of Bill and Hillary but still ended up commenting on it. Considering that Hollywood will comment on whatever it likes it's surprising it tried to avoid saying something about the current president. In the end the film missed its mark. Primary Colors: C

The Contender stars Joan Allen and is about a woman whose past comes into question as she is being sworn in as the new V.P. Here the film seems to be commenting the media, the media's need as well as the public to dissect every inch of a person's life as they enter office and lastly on whether or not you should have to answer for actions you took in your past; especially when those actions bear no consequence on your current position. The film itself is good but what hurts it is the obviously lack of detail in regards to locations and sets. Anyone who watches CNN or C-SPAN can tell you what the white house looks like but here the movie seems to ignore that to spend time on character development. Regardless the film's overall plot is good and isn't unbelievable at all when you take a look at some of our famous presidents. The Contender: B+

The last film here to look at is Frost/Nixon and its story focuses on an interview Richard Nixon gave to British talk show host David Frost about the Watergate scandal. Considering these events did take place and there is video evidence documenting what transpired during that interview the film does an excellent job recreating the drama and tension going on at the time. Frost/Nixon: A

Getting back to Casino Jack, the film takes a closer look at the characters involved during this very well-known scandal. What it ends up creating is a character piece about Jack Abramoff, the people in his life and how they were involved and affected during these incredible events. The only real roadblock in this movie is that this particular scandal was so well covered at the time that when re-played here it seems a bit redundant but regardless it is well done film starring a truly wonderful actor.

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