Kevin Spacey, as the scandalous D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff, starts off with a funny, compelling spasm of vanity and profanity while brushing his teeth. He never again hits that level in Casino Jack, though he does some amusing impressions (not, alas, his Bobby Darin from Beyond the Sea). Spacey has cutting, cynical riffs with his cohorts-in-greed, Barry Pepper and Jon Lovitz. The film gleefully sinks fangs into Bush Republicans, but it remains too breathless and cartoonish to engage the moral or political ramifications of Abramoff’s tawdry career. This movie, its thunder already stolen by the documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money, is the exit work of director George Hickenlooper, best known for Hearts of Darkness and Picture This. He died October 30, 2010 at the age of 47.
Newsreel: The San Diego movie critics’ club named Darren Aronofsky best director (Black Swan), Jennifer Lawrence top actress (Winter’s Bone), and Colin Farrell the year’s best actor (Ondine). Foreign film: I Am Love. Animation: Toy Story 3. Documentary: Exit through the Gift Shop. Duncan Shepherd was voted the Kyle Counts Award for his nearly 40 years of critical writing at the Reader.
Newly reviewed in this week’s capsule listings: Brotherhood and Rabbit Hole.