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Casino Jack


US A /C A N ADA Director: George Hickenlooper


Producers: Gary Howsam, Bill Marks, George Zakk Screenwriter: Norman Snider Cinematographer: Adam Swica Editor: William Steinkamp


Cast: Kevin Spacey, Kelly Preston, Rachelle Lefevre, Barry Pepper, Eric Schweig


2010/color/108 min.


GEORGE HICKENLOOPER SDFF regular George Hickenlooper’s big break came in 1991 with Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which premiered at Cannes. But his filmmaking career started as early as adolescence, when he made shorts that aired on public television in St. Louis and Kansas City. Hickenlooper graduated from Yale University in 1986 with a BA in history and film studies.


Selected Filmography Factory Girl (2006) Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003) The Big Brass Ring (1999) Dogtown (1997) Crosstown Traffic (1997) Art, Acting, and the Suicide Chair: Dennis Hopper (1988)


Followed by the Grand Opening Reception in the Lobby


In cooperation with Colacci Consulting, LLC Presented by 15


The vile shenanigans of notorious Bush-era lobbyist Jack Abramoff have inspired two films this year, so anyone who didn’t get enough of them via Alex Gibney’s documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money can stop by for seconds, courtesy of George Hickenlooper—cousin to Colorado’s own John Hickenlooper and a frequent festival guest (Hick Town, SDFF32; Mayor of the Sunset Strip; SDFF26).


In Hickenlooper’s often hilarious, slightly fictionalized take on the insatiably power-hungry Abramoff—played with oily élan by the masterful Kevin Spacey—Casino Jack (so named for his shady pressure play against a South Florida casino operator) is the very picture of profane and ruthless self-interest. As he cooks up schemes to establish a personal gambling empire, this amoral scoundrel digs himself deeper and deeper into trouble, but he’s blind to all consequence. “You’re either a big leaguer or you’re a slave,” Abramoff crows, dead certain of his own status. But when big-time politics, as practiced by the high-powered lobbyists of K Street, run head- long into the cold ambition of organized crime, a crisis erupts that threatens not only Casino Jack and his family but the Bush White House as well.


Spacey’s bravura performance is complemented by those of Barry Pepper as Abramoff’s slick spin doctor and Jon Lovitz as his mobbed-up partner in the casino game. To ensure authenticity, director Hickenlooper and screenwriter Norman Snider spent many hours interviewing their subject—a big movie fan—in federal prison.


—BILL GALLO Sponsored by


Photo: Ken Woroner / ATO Pictures


OPENING NIGHT ON COLFAX


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