January 07, 2010

Preview of Casino Jack

Sundance documentary to include Jack Abramoff-El Paso casino connection"Casino Jack and the United States of Money," a documentary on disgraced super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, will include El Paso, according to the film's director. The film will debut at the Sundance Film Festival this month.

After the Tiguas' Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso's Lower Valley was shut down by the state in 2002, Abramoff told the tribe he would try to help them reopen. It would later be revealed that Abramoff had helped shut the tribe's casino down, according to a US News & World Report article.

Oscar-winner Alex Gibney, director of the film, told indiewire.com that he wanted the film to "wanted to try to capture that secret agent quality of Jack which meant going to all sorts of places--from Miami to the Marianas, from El Paso to Washington, DC. We wanted a look that morphed and evolved like the movie festival of Jack's mind. Sometimes a Western, sometimes a thriller, sometimes a slapstick comedy. So the film has a number of different looks. It's playful and dark. It's a comedy; but the joke is on us."
Comment:  On IMDB.com, Eric Schweig is billed sixth as "Chief Poncho." "Graham Green," which may mean Graham Greene, is at the bottom of the cast list with no role assigned. I don't see any other Native actors in the cast.

I guess "Chief Poncho" isn't as bad as Chief Grey Wolf or Chief Running Mouth, but it sounds phony. I believe the tribal "chiefs" involved included Martin, Milanovich, and Sinclair. Not a funny Indian name among them.

Since the Abramoff scandal was primarily about Indian gaming, I would've thought this movie would have several Indians in supporting roles--not just two. Is it going to downplay the Indian aspect of the scandal? Lots of gaming people will see this movie, and they'll lambaste it if it's inaccurate.

And I'll be among them. I did a cover story on the Tiguas for Indian Gaming Business magazine in 2004. That was after the scandalous events happened but before the scandal broke, I think. In any case, I'll be watching for mistakes and stereotypes.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  Jack Abramoff and Kevin Spacey.

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