Exclusive Interview: Casino Jack Director Alex Gibney
It should probably go without saying that my interview with Alex Gibney was not at all ordinary. After catching his new film Casino Jack and the United States of Money, which is in limited release this weekend, at the Sundance Film Festival, I had to snap myself out of the festival-induced haze and do some serious research before sitting down with Gibney, who also made Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side. Without having even met him, I knew he'd be talking circles around me.
And yeah, of course that's what happened-- Gibney is a brilliant and incisive documentarian who, especially in the context of his new project about lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the corrupt system he helped create, can talk poignantly about virtually any topic. Our conversation happened just a few days after the Supreme Court's January decision that corporations can spend freely on election campaigns, a decision I couldn't quite understand until Gibney cleared it up for me. More on the subject of Casino Jack, we talked about the kind of affection and admiration he developed for his central figure, who Gibney describes as a "zealot" for free-market economics rather than a hard-hearted monster trying to rip people off. He also explained his engaging use of film clips and cinematic tropes to reflect Abramoff's own interest in Hollywood, and ended by reminding me, just as in the film, that Abramoff was merely part of a system-- there are plenty more of him out there.
It was a great conversation, and the clip below is unusually long, a solid 20 minutes. I think I've probably explained enough by now that it's worth it. Casino Jack is in limited release right now, and even if you have no interest in politics or barely remember who Abramoff is, it's worth your time. You can believe me, or you can listen to Gibney make the argument below.
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