Uploaded on July 10, 2011 by Hagfilms Honest Reviews Powered by YouTube
5 years after the release of the brilliant Goodfella's, based on Nicolas Pileggi's biographical novel Wiseguy, Scorsese once again teams up with the crime writer to create the screenplay for Casino, another true story of the mob's brief and violent history in the Casino's of Las Vegas. It told the story of Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal, here named Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, and played by DeNiro. Rothstein is an excellent gambler and handycapper employed by the mob to oversee the lucrative business enterprise that is Vegas's Casino's, here in the movie it is the fictional Tangiers that he is given free reign of and through which he will pilfer endless money back to his bosses at home.
All is well until the bosses decide to protect their investment and send muscle, Ace's old friend Nicky Santoro, based on the real life mobster Tony Spilotro - Joe Pesci in a role not a hundred miles from Tommy that he played in Goodfellas. Between Nicky and Ace's girl, Ginger - Sharon Stone - the neat and meticulous enterprise that Ace managed soon unravels in a saga of violence and betrayal, yet another rise and fall story synonymous with the gangster genre.
The film was never slated, but a lot of critics took to the opinion that the film was a blatant replication of Goodfellas, and in a sense that is true, but I don't necessarily think that that is a bad thing. So what if Pesci is the same character? He played it well, notably one of the most volatile villains in film, and that personality fits perfectly to this new character. In honesty his character here is very much the show stealer again. DeNiro gives a solid performance, but its hardly a reach in terms of breaking boundaries, he too has played this role before. But once again, I don't think it matters.
The two main characters, Ace and Nicky, both take part in the narration of the movie. Their alternate views and indepth analogies comically guide us through the intricacy's of the Casino, the organs of the underworld and their turbulent relationships. The detail they extrude in a casual 'told over a drink' attitude is another clever tool that Scorsese and his performers have perfected.
The style, through Scorsese's direction and Schoonmakers editing was almost identical to the former, but it's a formula that worked well once, and in Casino it proves to work well again. Its pace charges us through the years in which the story takes place, the Scorsese/Schoonmaker art of cutting action down to the bare essentials, makes like work of plot development. Their skilful use of inserts and jump cuts alongside an awesome soundtrack, bridges huge gaps on the timeline that other directors may have felt the need to trudge us along. It's a good job that the film is so energetic as at three hours in length it could struggle to hold our attention. Which, incidentally, it doesn't.
Also, there appears to be a lot more emotional depth to the characters in Casino, as opposed to Goodfellas. We see a more human and tender side to these men of honour, a side that deals with relationships outside of the mafia, especially where we glimpse Nicky as a caring father, but also we see a much weaker side too, one that clearly stems from their involvement with Ginger. Not only does Ace act completely irresponsibly in his pursuit and inevitable separation with the siren of the strip, but also the two friends let her fall between them, not just marring their friendship, but also directly preventing the smooth course of the business that they are supposed to running.
Ginger is just as volatile as Nicky, and Stone is amazing as the high maintenance trophy wife. We can see Ace making the stupid mistake long before he makes it, but he is unable to stop his lust and desire to have ownership over her. She just flirts around money and wealth, and is completely in it for the wrong reasons. But, no matter how head strong she may seem, she is still held back in her dependence on her pimp ex boyfriend Lester - played with a snug fitting casual sliminess by James Woods. Not unlike Iris in Taxi Driver, Ginger is still childlike in her inability to escape her pimps needy grip.
The casting is a virtue, and not just the lead roles but also the many bodies that build up the supporting cast and even the background. Scorsese's talent for putting the right face to the character is at the height of its game here. Whether its Mr Potato Head Don Rickles in the casino, or Scorsese mother scalding the over use of bad language, or the wrinkled, pitbull look of the bosses, lit in ominous shadow, these extra's are usually Italian-American's just talking and behaving how they would usually, and its that realism that gives this movie an extra shine of authenticity.
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