Casino Jack: the rise and fall of top Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, after his increasingly flaky attempts at influencing politicians lead to some ugly outcomes. It’s quite an interesting story, that’s part drama and part comedy / political satire. The film’s at it’s best when it’s dramatic: both Spacey and Pepper are red-hot, top-drawer, scene stealingly good. The comedy moments cover everything, from solid gags and witty lines all the way down the scale to unnecessary quirk – most annoyingly, Spacey‘s cinephile character bursts in to (some pretty good) cinematic impressions in every second scene. The direction matches what’s on screen, ranging from sensible handling of the dramatic moments, through to playful snappy quick-cuts and comedy timing. While the tone leaps all over the entire spectrum, there’s enough good performances, and moments of drama / satire to keep this watchable and entertaining. Not least, the film’s good for bringing Jack Abramoff, and his insane life story to your attention.
Borat: mockumentary following a Kazakhstan TV personality who’s sent to learn aspects of American culture to benefit his country, major hilarity ensues. After about 25 minutes I was thinking “Holy crap, this film’s heading for a score of 9!” however it drops the ball soon after and doesn’t really get going again. It was the first film I’d seen in a cinema where almost everyone laughed continuously for the entire duration – not just a few funnies or gross moments. On re-watching it at home it’s not quite as effective, but still very funny. Most gags are at someone’s expense and / or gross-outs – with a particularly disgusting and pointless naked fight at one point. Because there’s actors and some of the scenes were supposedly staged it’s hard not to dissect each scene, but doing so will ruin the enjoyment for you. The rough documentary style means that the majority of what made the final cut is funny, but doesn’t really have much flow or continuity. Is it the funniest film of the 2000s? Possibly: it’s definitely up there with Anchorman, Superbad, and Team America. Best enjoyed in a big group.