The One -- for Tea Party Members
James, Caryn, Newsweek
Byline: Caryn James
Jack Abramoff: former superpowered lobbyist, current felon who bilked Indian tribes and bribed public officials, and--clown? George Hickenlooper's fact-based satire, starring Kevin Spacey and his ever-sharp comic timing, offers an antic version of the wheeler-dealer whose ambition and blinkered morality were close to caricature all along. The film follows Abramoff's glib, high-energy act as he takes parties of congressmen on sunny vacations and persuades them that sweatshops in the Mariana Islands are good for the American economy. Droll and straight-faced, Spacey lets us see Abramoff's absurdities: an observant Jew, Abramoff reminds an interfaith Bible-study group, "In Biblical times, taxes never rose above 20 percent"--the old "if it was good enough for Moses" economic plan.
Hickenlooper died in October, at 47. Casino Jack, unexpectedly his last film, reflects a career-long passion: affectionate curiosity about the oddities of real-life people, often artists. His 1991 documentary, Hearts of Darkness, about the making of Apocalypse Now, is a classic view of a tortured creative process and the crazy extremes of moviemaking. …