Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Client 9: The Rise & Fall of Eliot Spitzer - DVD Review

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Directed by Alex Gibney.

This feels like a spinoff to Inside Job. Spitzer had a small talking-head part in that movie where he addressed the financial corruption going on, and now here he is the center of his own documentary, the first half of which focusses on his righteous crusade against Wall Street shenanigans. Spitzer is portrayed as a hero, the Eliot Ness to the Capones of the banks.

But no matter how sympathetic the director is to his subject, there's no glossing over the fact that Spitzer busted prostitution rings, and then he himself participated in them. The movie tries to paint a conspiracy. Why was Spitzer taken down when other politicians have done it? We even get a tacky slideshow of Mark Sanford, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, etc., etc.

It gives one the feeling that Spitzer could have run for president if he'd not (been caught) done it in the first place. Yes he made a lot of enemies, but especially when you get to the governor years, Spitzer's abrasive arrogance did him in more than anything. Maybe Spitzer could have done more to combat some of the economic shadiness that brought down the world in 2008. I doubt it.

On the technical front, I really like the slickness Gibney brings to his films. (He also directed Casino Jack & the United States of Money. He knows his corrupt political-finance topics.) I just wish Gibney had engaged in a little more scrutiny and a little less hero-worship in the central figure of this particular film.

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