CORPORATE LINE: Martin Scorsese, one of America’s most influential filmmakers, returns to the world of mobsters, greed, and excess that he explored so compellingly in 1990’s GOODFELLAS. Set in the 1970s and reveling in the minute details of how Las Vegas casinos operate, the film chronicles the rise and fall of casino manager Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro).
As the king of his domain, Ace efficiently runs the business and regularly sends lots of cold cash to his bosses. Helping him keep the casino’s employees and customers honest is his best friend, Nicky (Joe Pesci), a violent sociopath. Although Ace aims to run a relatively respectable casino, the volatile Nicky wants to take over the entire gambling mecca, and when Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), a seasoned Vegas hustler, enters the picture, Ace and Nicky’s friendship is complicated even further. As drugs and alcohol become a bigger part of Ginger’s life, all three are eventually brought down by their own greed and blind ambition.
CASINO shares many similarities with GOODFELLAS, beginning with a script that was cowritten by Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi. Regulars De Niro and Pesci are first rate once again as the dissimilar companions, but it is Stone who steals the show with her grueling, intense performance.
THE FILM: It’s the story that captures the viewer. Sure it’s cool to be locked down in a film about gangsters but Casino is more than that. There is crime and murder but also love and romance which add to the depth.
This is an epic that only Scorsese could have created. Right from the beginning you are hooked and Scorsese does a masterful job at telling a story that keeps you wanting more. The beauty of Casino isn’t the beatings and killings it’s the moments where violence can’t take over the moment and yet you are still enthralled.
The actors shine. Pesci as Santoro is at his best. He’s a real SOB and yet makes you laugh. He’s the kind of guy you want to beat up and yet you’d love to have him around for a football game because you know he’d make you laugh. He’s the best guy you love-to-hate and hate-to-love ever to grace the silver screen. Sharon Stone steals every scene—which seems nearly impossible with such a stellar cast. And then there is DeNiro. What can you say except the man is brilliant?
DVD FEATURES: The commentary is nothing more than old Scorsese interviews cut up and put down to sound like a commentary. It’s much more interesting to watch the other feature; “Casino: The Story.”
In “Casino: The Story” Scorsese discusses making the movie and working the cast and crew. It’s a pretty interesting featurette where you learn a good deal about the film and Scorsese’s style. “The Cast and Characters” finds a few interesting interviews. The best is Stone discussing the role of Ginger and how she wasn’t even interested at first.
“The Look” discusses the wardrobe and honestly it’s barely worth one viewing. There are very few deleted scenes—nothing worth watching. One funny scene finds Scorsese’s mother yelling at him for swearing. And a completely useless featurette titled “Vegas and the Mob” is supposed to be a history of the cities gangsters but ends up being uninteresting.
FRANKLY: Casino is a great film. I haven’t viewed it in five or more years and its still as good and exciting to watch today as it was in the theater. Scorsese’s films age with grace this is a sure sign of a classic. Buy the DVD for the movie and be happy there is at least one good featurette.
+ Charlie Craine