Casino (1995)

Dir. Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, etc.

I think most idiots would give this film a 7, so I would probably recommend it. While it’s a good film, I don’t know if it warrants a selection in the 1001 book.

This film is about Sam “Ace” Rothstein (DeNiro0, a successful bookie the Mafia appoints to run a Las Vegas casino and his relationship with a childhood friend and mafia appointed “protector”, Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). Trouble occurs when brings his criminal ways to Las Vegas. When a woman, Ginger (Sharon Stone) enters Sam’s life, which further adds complications.

I have very little interest in Vietnam, Holocaust or Mafia films–so if I do watch any of these for some reason, I have a significant level of reluctance. With this film especially, I though Scorsese would just be retracing old terrain. While that’s true (Pesci was essentially the same character in Goodfellas), there was enough to keep into the film for most of the 3 hours.

What I found interesting was the operations of the casino and DeNiro’s character having to always keep an eye out on everyone including his own personnel. I also like the way his strengths–attention to detail with regard to making money was also a weakness (hurting his relationship with his wife). The relationship between DeNiro and Pesci was interesting, but I don’t know if, in the end, the filmmakers didn’t develop this in interesting ways. (They’re relationship reminded me of DeNiro and Keitel in Mean Streets.)

One of the problems I had was with the De Niro. I think his character was supposed to be vulnerable, not so intimidating and strong at times, even though he’s totally organized and knowledgeable. But DeNiro’s aura prevents that from happening. It’s the same thing that happened with Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets. The vulnerability and insecurity of the character are totally unconvincing, primarily because Nicholson exudes confidence. Ditto DeNiro.

I also thought Sharon Stone’s performance, which I believe won her an Oscar, wasn’t that great. I’ve never seen her in Basic Instinct, but of the other films I’ve seen her in, I don’t think she’s a very good actor at all. Her acting is visible for one thing and sometimes doesn’t seem very authentic or convincing.

One last thing. Scorsese used a lot of pop/rock music of the 60s and 70s in the film, and I think he went overboard, especially cutting partial songs into other ones. It got distracting, gave the film a choppier feel.

Mitchell, 10. January 2009, 17:03 Edit This

It’s a watchable film, but not really very re-watchable. Saw it in the theater and have never had reason to want to see it again or to even discuss it. Stone was fine, but not Oscar-worthy (and in fact, she didn’t win the Academy Award; she did win the Golden Globe, which tells you something about the Golden Globe awards). This film does not pass Gene Siskel’s lunch test: Is this film more interesting than a same-length film of the same actors having conversation over lunch? No.

I’m just happy I saw this before I saw Goodfellas, or I don’t know if I’d have even liked Casino as much as I did.

Reid, 10. January 2009, 22:38 Edit This

I’m assuming you liked Goodfellas a lot more, so if you had seen it before Casino, you would not have really enjoyed Casino? I’m glad we agree on Stone–well, I actually think her performance was between OK and a little less than OK; it’s nice to know someone else feels the same. I don’t know if I agree about the lunch test though. The film was kept my attention fairly well, especially for a long film.

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