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Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer Reviews

Page 1 of 8
boxman
boxman

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2011
Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker behind Enron and Taxi to the Dark Side, rolls out his third 2010 entry in what must have been a rather exhausting year for the man. The focus is on former New York attorney general and governor Eliot Spitzer and his fall from grace after being linked to a high-end prostitution ring. Gibney charts the man's rise and fall in a fairly straightforward and engaging manner, though you start to wonder if there's really enough material to fill out a two-hour feature. Spitzer speaks candidly and will not humbly vanish as some may wish; the man is an intriguing mixture of righteousness, ego, and humility. What's most fascinating about Client 9 (named after Spitzer's name in the FBI sting) is that Spitzer gained a wealth of enemies when he went after Wall Street largesse and greedy shenanigans, and they all want to be on camera. No one with a serious grudge against Spitzer, including men who have since been convicted of crimes and ethics violations, refuses an interview. Gibney draws together a fairly convincing thesis on the takedown of Spitzer, a cabal of powerful execs, politically motivated prosecutors in the Bush administration, and government officials who reject accountability. It's all circumstantial evidence, to be sure, but there's a mountain of it. There is a definite conservative-backed coordinated effort to sully and embarrass the man. But ultimately, Spitzer admits that he is responsible for his sins. You will never get full satisfying clarity as to why he sought out the comfort of prostitutes in the first place. I don't think even Spitzer knows for sure. But that's an age-old mystery that can't be tied up in two hours.

Nate's Grade: B
axadntpron
axadntpron

Super Reviewer

February 26, 2011
Alex Gibney's foray into the mind of Eliot Spitzer makes for an excellent and thought provoking film. Spitzer is candid in his interview and Gibney really captures all of the idiosyncrasies that this controversial figure has to offer. He is full of hubris, over-ambitious, and a force to be reckoned with. Yet, rather than just partake in an Diane Sawyer-esque interview, in which the subject is asked loaded questions in hopes to illicit some sort of emotional or knee jerk reaction, Gibney leaves the judgements to the tabloids.
Instead, he asks why. Why was he the target of a federal case when federal cases usually go after the prostitution service rather than the patron? For what exact reasons was he singled out and whom would have wanted to see his political life disintegrate? Also, why did the public so eagerly latch onto this particular case and consequently make a star out of "Spitzer's Girl?"
From Spitzer's time as attorney general to his stint as the governor of New York City, Gibney shows the upheaval that this self proclaimed "Sheriff of Wall Street" caused and the numerous enemies that he amassed along the way. While the narrative is pretty straight forward, Gibney brings to the surface some really poignant questions. How "evil" is a man who has made some personal mistakes, but is one of the only politicians attempting to bring some justice to the amorphous greed that runs rampant on Wall Street?
The city plays an important role in the film as well as much of the dialogue is played over shots of the city. Gibney even frames the interviews of the financial giants with the hustle and bustle of the city seen in the background. These men appear to be ambassadors of a city whose ethos is excess.
There is a lot to chew on in this film and it is simply one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long while.
Ken S

Super Reviewer

February 17, 2011
Fascinating documentary from the guy who made Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Taxi to the Dark Side.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

December 16, 2011
For those of you who might have forgotten or do not live in New York, Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York who was forced to resign after a year in office, due to a sex scandal. He came to prominence as the state attorney general, going after Wall Street's greedy and immoral practices, foreseeing Wall Street's 2008 collapse.


Even with Spitzer on hand to answer questions, there is really not that much insight in the documentary "Client 9" as to why Spitzer did what he did, concerning his fall from grace, thus helping to destroy the great man theory of history. Said downfall began in March 2006 when he started paying escorts for sex which was also the same time his run for governor began, immediately followed by mentions in the media of a future Presidential run. Before getting ahead of ourselves, rewind to the fact that Spitzer made a great prosecutor where his 'my way or the highway' style worked wonders but did not work as well in the state house where he was a questionable governor at best, unwilling to work with others. And maybe he knew that going in, causing him to self-destruct before things got any farther so as not to disappoint his domineering father. In fact, you could say that Spitzer had a talent for making powerful enemies(including billionaire Paul Langone, AIG CEO Hank Greenberg and State Senate Senate President Joseph Bruno)but not friends, and it should have surprised nobody that they would go after him, eventually exposing him.(By contrast, there are tons of people in this country who would give half of their reproductive organs to get anything on Ralph Nader. The end result: nothing.) And he would probably not have had to resign if he had the backing of his party which he did not. That goes back to what Sydney Biddle Barrows wrote about escorts(of which too much time is spent on in the documentary) in that it is as much about the sex as it is about companionship, especially for somebody who is so lonely.

For the record, I do believe David Paterson was mainly brought up on charges of corruption towards the end of his term of office due to his poor chances of winning election to a full term. This is one of only three conspiracy theories I actually believe in.
John B

Super Reviewer

December 12, 2010
An awesome bio of a past and potentially future political star who convinced himself that two distinct lives he was leading would never meet. Forget the enemies gunning for him, who would not notice the Governor of New York lining up at the post office for thousand dollar money orders and not suspect that something was going on? Watch a highly educated man talk about reforming Wall Street and be reduced in a couple of blinks to a naive teary four year old trying to convince us that he believed he would never be caught. One complaint for the film makers who never clearly inform the audience that they are using an actress to portray his most frequent conquest.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

February 3, 2011
If your surprised that politics, sex, greed, and corruption go hand in hand, or that the New York Post is a joke than you're either a hermit or a child. Still the tale of Spitzer's triumphs and his destruction at the hands of his own hubris and the Wall Street businessmen who were his brutal enemies is rather interesting.
mattsigur1
mattsigur1

Super Reviewer

May 24, 2011
Fascinating.
My favorite part of The Other Guys was the neat graphs during the credits. Well, here's the story of a man who tried to stop stuff like that - the corrupt hedge funds, Wall Street games, etc.- he was destined to become THE man in politics. But his dick got in the way, and, alas, we see Spitzer for what he really is - full of great intentions of wanting to do things right, but still a ruthless politician whose presence may be strong, but is as calculated as Philip Seymour Hoffman's character ticks.
mmeyers21
November 7, 2011
This film is good to pair with Inside Job. I learned a lot more about what happened and all of the poitics that were involved in this issue
TonyPolito
April 19, 2011
This film is actually more about the subtitle "The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" than it is about the actual "Client9" incident. The film watches Spitzer's decade of 'fighting the good fight' while he accumulates a number of powerful enemies, then the film eventually points the dirty end of the Client9 stick at those enemies as they set out upon revenge, set out upon discovering and spoon-feeding the mass-media something - anything - that would destroy Spitzer.

I was led to watch this film after seeing Spitzer's interviews within "Inside Job" (2010), where it became clear that Spitzer, "The Sheriff of Wall Street," had throughout the early-2000s been trying to prosecute and neutralize many of the rogue companies and CEOs that eventually caused (and profited from) The Great Recession. In that sense, these two films make an excellent set of bookends.

The film devotes Act I to chronicling Spitzer's ascent as State Attorney General, accomplished by successfully prosecuting (and/or trying-in-public) a series of high-profile, highly-unethical Wall Street perps. That includes his gnawing on the heels of Hank Greenberg, CEO of AIG, who was cooking the books to hide the fact that AIG couldn't possibly meet its insurance obligations (Something American citizens saw all too plainly just a few years later when dead-broke AIG had to be bailed out with citizen tax dollars; AIG's premiums had simply been going out the back door as bonuses and executive perks.) Spitzer's outing of Greenberg earned the wrath of John Whitehead, Chairman of Goldman Sachs (aka "Government Sachs"). And when Spitzer prosecuted Ken Langone, the Director of the New York Stock Exchange, Spitzer bagged yet another powerful life-long enemy.

Act II, just as in many a Shakespearian play, begins to reveal Spitzer, the flawed man. It details Spitzer's brief time as Governor. Spitzer thought he had walloped Wall Street due to his combative style, but really it was the carefully crafted legal cases that delivered the KOs. And those cases only resulted in CEO replacements and fines levied, not really much more than the occasional cost of doing unethical business. Now as Governor Spitzer he comes out swinging just as before, but doesn't realize that Albany politics can't be settled up as easily with court filings. Corporations can pay the price and move on; politicians can't ... so they'll be pushing back hard. Spitzer is punching with even emptier gloves than the gloves he wore on Wall Street. And this time he's picking fights with fighters. When Spitzer jabs NY Republican Senate Leader Joe Bruno by telling him he's messing with "a f**kin' steamroller" then outs him for misusing state travel monies, well Spitzer only scores his own worst enemy.

Act III pretty successfully argues that Bruno held pow-wows with Greenberg, Whitehead & Langone to plan Spitzer's castration. Bruno knew and hired colorful and shady Roger Stone, a political hitman who cut his teeth working inside Nixon's CREEP. But Stone didn't actually deliver much in the way of dirty tricks. Then Whitehead used his ties to the U.S. Government to set an army of FBI agents upon a Spitzer witch-hunt, systematically pawing over every drop of data on the man. Odd cash transactions lead them into the Client9 investigation. The execution of that investigation makes plain that its sole purpose was to shipwreck Spitzer. Once the FBI softened up everyone so that they would spill their guts about Spitzer, it simply fed a sufficient trail of bread-crumbs - including everyone's phone numbers and home addresses - to the mass-media pigeons all too eager to feed on such gossip. Game, set, match.

Resting atop all this narrative is the slow reveal of the inner nature of Spitzer, the tragic hero. In fact, he himself compares his odyssey to that of Icarus. The sequence of Spitzer's interviews lays bare the man's keen intellect, his noble intents, his manipulative language as well as his character flaws. In this light, the film is as eternal and tragic as any eternal Greek tragedy.

RECOMMENDATION: Marries well to "Inside Job." The viewer learns even more about the tons of illegal activities that triggered the 2008 Banking Crisis and the Great Recession. And the viewer also learns the names of even more individuals who caused it, got rich off it, and who the American Government has simply let walk away from their huge crimes scot-free.
May 2, 2014
Fuck American politics. So... wait....Spitzer's career ended because he had sex with a hooker? WHHHAAAATT?!?!?!?!?! This movie would even piss off the pope with how ridiculous this scandal was.
March 11, 2014
Gripping documentary. This guy pissed off alot of people and they came back for vengeance.
January 26, 2014
Uneven, uninspiring docudrama that should have been way more interesting than it was; failed to follow up on a host of interesting questions.
September 3, 2013
Excellent documentary with a narrative as compelling as film noir with a cast of characters refracting with their views a surreal, postmodern kaleidoscope on power in the big city and the downfall of a politician whose investigations into the Wall Street financial corruption that brought on the 200...read more8 economic meltdown. The director uses an ironic, hip and medium-cool soundtrack as a counterpoint to the unfolding drama that cuts like the diamonds on the escort service used to rate the high-class call girls Eliot Spitzer paid for sex. A morality tale for our times that also surprisingly funny as the personal tragedy of Spitzer is threaded within the larger corruption of the society he wanted to reform yet ignoring his own hubris seeking greater fame as he climbed the ladder of success.
February 3, 2013
An engrossing Documentary that serves as a cautionary tale about making powerful enemies and leaving yourself game for character dissection. A fantastic story well told.
December 8, 2012
Elliott Spitzer came to fame as "The Sheriff of Wall Street", using his position as NY's Attorney General to aggressively prosecute misconduct in the financial services industries. His enormous profile and populist credentials enabled him to become Governor of New York... but for only a little more than a year. In time the FBI revealed that he had been using the services of a $3,000 a night call girl service and he was forced to resign.

To my surprise, this documentary sets out to defend Spitzer. It acknowledges that Spitzer made his bed and chose to lie in it, but argues that it was his influential enemies that kicked down the door and brought in the photographers.

Filmmaker Alex Gibney has gotten access to nearly everyone in the drama. He interviews Spitzer extensively, and the Governor is rather candid... to a point. He can't deny anything, of course, but brushes aside the accusations that his approach to the law was like a rabid pit bull. Those accusations come from his enemies, who are also featured in interviews. They are also candid... to a point.

The third party in the affair is the set of call girls and managers of the escort service that the Governor patronized. They're interviewed too... and you do get to learn a few interesting things about the world of the top flight of prostitutes that earn thousands of dollars an hour. Most memorable was the call girl who said that her wealthy clients were so decent and polite that she's given up on dating because the men she meets just can't measure up to the ones she services for a living.

This movie is slick. Lighting and editing are gorgeous - and I expect that Gibney may move on to dramatic features in the future. The visual presentation also serves a thematic purpose. When one of Spitzer's self-proclaimed enemies is photographed relaxing on his Manhattan penthouse balcony, with the NYC skyline in the background - an in fact ALL of his subjects are shown in lush surroundings - the message is that this game of cowboys and indians is being played for high stakes by those with the most sophisticated weapons of power at their disposal.
November 14, 2012
though his actions aren't admired, he is respected.
September 10, 2012
Alex Gibney strikes again (in a sense) with another great documentary about "The Sherrif Of Wall Street". Taking you from his rise to power (New York State Attorney General in 1998 to Governor in 2007) to his fall, but, at the hands of whom? Himself? Greedy Wall Street Bankers? Politicians who got crossed wrongly? Ultimately. it's left in the hands of the viewer. The movie does a great job leaving a lot to be pondered and slightly empowers you to do some research of your own. Like so many of Gibney's documentaries, they get you fired up because it makes you wonder what lengths people go to make money or conceal the truth to save their own legacy or business. Two of my main problems with this movie is that:

1. It doesn't offer alot of cold hard facts about the truth behind Spitzer's downfall. It has a lot of circumstancial evidence and hints about what "may" have been a plan but it doesn't amount to much of a conviction. The upsetting part is that we have MANY politicians still in power to this day that have done worse and didn't go through what Spitzer did.

2. The timeline of events seemed to jump around alot. It started out nice with Eliot Spitzer delivering his speech of stepping down as a nice foreshadowing but the constant jumps between the escort segments and him taking down Wall Street tycoons (back and forth) seemed to take away from the overall suspense and can be a little confusing. I even found myself wondering why some scenes weren't used sooner or later too.

It blended a good mix of humor and straight political points too (hot poker anyone??) that get you thinking about how bad of enemies Eliot Spitzer made. It seems, through the movie, that Eliot did what Eliot wanted. As governor, he stepped on alot of toes of the wrong people but did even worse with his time as state Attorney. Good man with good intentions but victim of his own doing....in a sense. Highly recommended!
April 22, 2012
The world needs the return of Eliot Spitzer to lead the People against the white-collar criminal gang that controls New York and Washington, the people we have written about and discussed for the past eight years. Not one of those thieves has been indicted for crimes that make Bernard Madoffâ??s pale in comparison and yet that crook was sentenced to 150 years in prison. The rest of them, knowing there is no longer a fearsome cop on the beat, smugly continue to steal whatever they can from us... Their crimes against society just has to stop... Maybe if and when you see this film youâ??ll appreciate my utter contempt for those who brought him down.
March 15, 2012
This was on BBC 2 last night. An excellent examination of a very driven man. Despite everything, I was impressed with Spitzer. You need men who have that kind of arrogance to fight against embedded interests. A great film.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

December 16, 2011
For those of you who might have forgotten or do not live in New York, Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York who was forced to resign after a year in office, due to a sex scandal. He came to prominence as the state attorney general, going after Wall Street's greedy and immoral practices, foreseeing Wall Street's 2008 collapse.


Even with Spitzer on hand to answer questions, there is really not that much insight in the documentary "Client 9" as to why Spitzer did what he did, concerning his fall from grace, thus helping to destroy the great man theory of history. Said downfall began in March 2006 when he started paying escorts for sex which was also the same time his run for governor began, immediately followed by mentions in the media of a future Presidential run. Before getting ahead of ourselves, rewind to the fact that Spitzer made a great prosecutor where his 'my way or the highway' style worked wonders but did not work as well in the state house where he was a questionable governor at best, unwilling to work with others. And maybe he knew that going in, causing him to self-destruct before things got any farther so as not to disappoint his domineering father. In fact, you could say that Spitzer had a talent for making powerful enemies(including billionaire Paul Langone, AIG CEO Hank Greenberg and State Senate Senate President Joseph Bruno)but not friends, and it should have surprised nobody that they would go after him, eventually exposing him.(By contrast, there are tons of people in this country who would give half of their reproductive organs to get anything on Ralph Nader. The end result: nothing.) And he would probably not have had to resign if he had the backing of his party which he did not. That goes back to what Sydney Biddle Barrows wrote about escorts(of which too much time is spent on in the documentary) in that it is as much about the sex as it is about companionship, especially for somebody who is so lonely.

For the record, I do believe David Paterson was mainly brought up on charges of corruption towards the end of his term of office due to his poor chances of winning election to a full term. This is one of only three conspiracy theories I actually believe in.
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