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I've read a lot of comments on IMDb, and more than 50% of the comments are calling this "Goodfells Part 2". Is it "Goodfellas Part 2", in my opinion, no. Yes, it's very similar situations, but it's not the same plot. It's a little more gory and more bright. "Casino" is mainly about the rise and fall of Las Vegas. When Robert DeNiro's character says "It's more like Disney Land now". Actually that's true, it's not like it used to be. I'm only 20, but my mom and dad told me how different the times were in the 60's and 70's. Everyone was more close and wanted to know who you were and how everything was going. Everything is more corporate greed now-a-days. But back onto the movie, it does have gangsta's in it, and with that comes some pretty gruesome violence.
Robert DeNiro. No words can describe how wonderful of an actor he is. If you read in most of my comments, you can tell I'm a fan. This movie is actually what made me into a huge fan of his. He's dialog and image is very powerful and you understand his position. You want to love him, even though technically he's a bad guy too, you still think he is so cool. A lot of people I talked too: the guys wanted to be him and the girls wanted to be with him. What a performance, it deserved more praise.
Joe does it again being the A$$hole who thinks with his gun and not with his head. Joe as an actor is very remarkable. He's only 5' 6'', but he is so intimidating. His speech in the desert with Ace and the big confrontation. "You want me to get out of my own town?! Don't *bleep* with me, Ace!" Does he swear in this movie? Oh, yeah. A lot, we're talking 400+ f-words, guys. But you get past the vulgar language and just enjoy what Joe says and does. The head vice scene and the metal bat scene with Joe is two of the most disturbing scenes in cinematic history.
Sharon Stone, what can I say? What a remarkable performance! She was very much robbed of her deserved Oscar. I was reading in my "Rober DeNiro: A history of his films" that Sharon over shined both Joe's and Robert's performance. In some ways that is very true. She plays a gold-digging, druggie, drunk, hustling, whore. She is very glamorous in the film though, she is covered in beautiful gowns and jewelery that no guy could ever resist. Her first scene where Robert first sees her and she is stealing chips from a guy who has "hired" her for a night was extremely effective. You can see why Ace fell so hard for her. What a terrific performance in the end. When she screams at Ace "I will go to the FBI! I will go to the police! I'm not protecting you anymore!", you get scarred and can't help but watch more even though you are sitting on your butt for more than 2 1/2 hours. You hate her character so much, you want her to get what's coming to her, that's what makes a terrific performance. When you actually want to make sure that this character gets the justice he or she deserves. Sharon, I apologize, you deserved more praise as well.
Martin Scorcesse. One of the greatest living directors of our time. This film was very wonderfully made with great visuals. The soundtrack really adds a lot, I'm telling you, and the theatrical trailer with the song "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones, what a great feel. Martin has been nominated several times for an Oscar, but they snub him. I think because his films are so violent and typical. But they remain classics. I'm disappointed with the Oscars, this man deserves more.
Whew. "Casino" is an excellent movie that I highly recommend for mob movie lovers. Don't compare this to "Goodfellas", let it stand on it's own. But please, this is not a movie for children in any manor. For the parents, this is a movie that should be on the wait until the later teens. It's very violent, we're talking a head in a vice, a beating with a metal bat(just to name a few violent scenes, there's more)drugs, sex, and very vulgar language. This is for adults only!It's a great movie that deserves very much to be on the top 250. I'd like to see it in the top 100, but we'll see.
De Niro's character, Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, is based on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who was a hell of a handicapper He was so good that whenever he bets, he could change the odds for every bookmaker in the country Genius at what he was doing with numbers, he proved to a lot of guys in the Chicago Mob that he was a tremendous earner that he could make a lot of money for them As a result, he was able to accomplish whatever bookmaking, handicapping, he wanted to do, with the umbrella of protection from those guys 'Ace' runs the casino with an iron fist refusing any outside people cheating at his tables
But he had a fatal flaw 'Ace' always felt that he could logically and intelligently deal with things, even to deal with emotions So he decides on making a life with a woman who, he knows, does not necessarily love him Anyway with such a sexy wife and money to burn, 'Ace' was the epitome of opulence, confidence and power
Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) was fascinating Great woman, truly beautiful, one of the best-known hustlers in town For her, a guy like 'Ace' was the ultimate score So the way to Ginger's heart was clearly money 'Ace' knew that but he didn't care What he wanted was to marry her
Sharon Stone really stood up to the challenge in her role as a casino hustler who is so wild She was young, fresh, confident, looking absolutely fantastic as the independent woman whom everybody desires
Joe Pesci succeeds in his scary tough role as the strong man who has nerve, and isn't afraid of the cops He was reportedly a mob hit man reputed to be a sadistic killer (In one scene, his character is shown torturing someone by putting his head in a vise.)
To protect his friend and adviser, Nicky (Pesci) would beat to a pulp any street guys who messed with 'Ace' or didn't give him the proper respect Over the course of their friendship Nicky delivered a number of these messages always making sure that 'Ace' didn't get his hands dirty 'Ace' witnessed several beatings on his behalf Nicky's mission was to show his worth to the family as an enforcer
The clothes on De Niro looked very straight, more dangerous and very threatening They were very important cues to his character, and again, to the progression of the story 'Ace' was an extremely fastidious guy And, of course, as you follow the story he starts out in more conservative colors and as things become more chaotic, the colors become more chaotic
Rothstein's partner in crime is Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), who is far less convincing as a mobster than he would seem to like to believe. Sharon Stone plays the psychotic Ginger, a once-in-a-lifetime role in that it was the only time in my life I could bear to watch her on film. The supporting cast is strong, led by James Woods and Don Rickles (excellent in his dramatic capacity), and the movie is generally well-acted.
If you are a gambler or know the "wiseguy" culture, the movie doesn't have to be explained, while if you aren't, you'll feel like you've stumbled upon the secret meeting place of the mafia and made privy to what is said, without anyone knowing you were there. This film is based on the true story of what happened when the mob tried to put its men in suits and have them heading a casino, and why it has never been tried since. The homage paid to the incestuous nature of Nevada politics was an excellent touch.
Most of us wouldn't like a guy like Sam Rothstein, nor would we like to be him, but if we go to Vegas for a weekend and stay at a casino/hotel, we'll have a better experience if his watchful eye is ensuring that our stay is a pleasant one. The film's nod to how Vegas has been sanitized since those days is also accurate, and reflects sadness at a lost era, where the baby (the "old school" types who made Vegas great) was thrown out with the bathwater (the organized crime influences).
Casino spans three decades and chronicles the true story of a faction of the mob who ran Las Vegas casinos. Robert DeNiro plays Ace Rothstein, a fantastic bookie who is chosen to run the Tangiers hotel and casino. Along the way, he marries a drug-addicted con-artist trophy wife (Sharon Stone) and struggles with his friendship with loose-cannon Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). Rothstein is a complicated figure in that he is not a heavy, yet he wields a lot of power due to the respect he has gained from his mob bosses back home.
Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci are both fantastic in their roles, and Sharon Stone actually turned out a non-irritating performance. As the viewer, you can't stand her, but that is the point. Scorcese's normal supporting cast are also involved in this film, including his great mother - even though she usually has incredibly minimal roles, they are always memorable.
Scorcese seems to have several different directing styles, and Casino follows in the tradition of Goodfellas as a pseudo-documentary. A lot of the exposition is revealed by the characters themselves in the form of voice-overs, and several scenes are filmed in documentarian fashion. The entire production however, is sleek and very quick. The use of music bears mentioning as well: Most Martin Scorcese films have an amazing soundtrack that adds to and enhances the scene. Being a child of the MTV age, I'm a sucker for good uses of music in films and Scorcese is a master. Scorcese doesn't just utilize the soundtrack, he makes it part of the storytelling - by the music, we chronologically know what time period we are witnessing, since one cannot rely on other factors, such as fashion alone. One of my favorite scenes in film which effectively involves music is actually from Casino - the very intense scene when the relationship between DeNiro, Stone and Pesci come to a head in the climax of the film. The pounding music cut throughout this scene is a cover of "Satisfaction" by Devo and the result is absolutely brilliant.
Being a complete film geek, I generally don't go to films that feature certain stars, I go to films by certain directors and Scorcese is one of them. While this was probably the tenth time I'd seen this film there were more things I noticed, and I'm sure I'll notice more upon my eleventh viewing. The man is a complete genius, and a gift to film - my suggestion is to watch some of his films, then check out his unbelievable series, "A Personal Journey with Martin Scorcese Through American Movies" which was done the same year as Casino. The series is essentially a primer on the history of film, sectioned off by film genres. You not only will experience his amazing intellect and massive knowledge of film history, but his incredible humility as well.
I have seen this film to many times to count and i am yet to become even remotely sick of it. The acting is flawless, story flows at a great pace for the full all but 3 hours, great narration and a great soundtrack
Pesci and De Niro play their parts so well as does Stone. When watching this film I started to wonder what PEsci is really like in real life. Is he a crazed man like he so often plays? After seeing Casino you are likely to wonder, he is that good
I also think the characters in Casino are far more believable then those in good fellas.
Must see for any gangster film fan
But I don't think that Casino is at all a "perfect" film. An 8 out of 10 may seem high, but if you're familiar with my reviews, you'll know that it's not that high of a score from me--it's closer to average from me. There are plenty of flaws here, and I'm going to spend some time pointing them out, particularly since the film receives so many 10's.
Casino is based on the story of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and the Stardust casino in Las Vegas. The Rosenthal character is here named Sam "Ace" Rothstein and is played by De Niro. The hotel became the Tangiers for the film. The mob backs Rothstein but has to set up a false front while Rothstein "secretly" runs the hotel, because of his gambling charges back East. He falls in love with and marries former hooker/call-girl and current Vegas hustler Ginger McKenna (Stone), who remains in love with her pimp, Lester Diamond (Woods). Meanwhile, mob strong-arm Nicky Santoro (Pesci) heads out to Vegas to protect Rothstein, but eventually ends up running his own rackets and trying to effectively take over the town. Casino is the story of the relationship and political problems that this cast of characters and a number of associates run into. It's roughly a gradual road to destruction for everyone involved.
The film is unusual in many ways. The most prominent oddity is that a large chunk of it is told via alternated narration from the two main characters, Rothstein and Santoro. The aim was probably to include a lot more of Pileggi's book, in a more literal way, than would have been possible through more conventional means. It's remarkable that the narration works as well as it does, especially because a lot of it is given a rapid-fire delivery. For at least the first 15 minutes, there is barely a pause in the narrational dialogue.
One of the reasons it works is because of the style that Scorsese uses to accompany it in the opening. He employs a lot of fast cuts while presenting very stylized, documentary-like footage. The opening feels as much like an entertaining behind-the-scenes look at how the typical casino works as it feels like a fictional film about gangsters.
Eventually, the film evolves from almost 100% narration to almost no narration (although the narration never completely leaves the film). This happens so subtly that one hardly notices. Scorsese's directorial style likewise evolves from the fast-cut documentary approach to something more conventional.
This is all well and good, but on the other hand, the gradual evolution can only happen because the film is so long--it clocks in just a couple minutes shy of 3 hours. That's a bit too long for the story being told. By at least the halfway point, it starts to feel a bit draggy. All the material is necessary to the story, but it could have been tightened up a lot more.
Another unusual aspect is the score/soundtrack, which consists primarily of pop hits from a wide time span--30 years or more. While I like the songs--I've owned the CD since it came out and I listen to it often enough--and the songs can help set the mood for some scenes, they become a bit too incessant and overbearing for the story after awhile. It begins to approach the dreaded "mix tape" mentality, where the songs are just there because the director wanted to share some bitchin' tunes that he likes a lot. A bit of ebb and flow with the music, and music better correlated to the drama, would have worked even better.
Presumably, Scorsese was shooting for something like a sensory assault, since that's what you get in Vegas. The visuals are filled with neon lights, flashy clothes (I love Rothstein's suits), flashy people and such. The soundtrack is probably meant to match. But in that case, if I were directing, I think I would have went for a combination of commissioned music that incorporated a lot of casino sounds, or that mimicked a lot of casino sounds--the cacophonous electronic symphony of various machines constantly going through their modes--with schmaltzy show tunes, ala Liza, Jerry Vale, Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, etc.
That Scorsese was trying to give a Vegas-styled sensory assault is also supported by the audio-visual contrast between the Vegas scenes and the scenes in other locations, such as Kansas City. So I can understand the motivation, but I'm not sure the final result exactly worked.
Of course the performances are exceptional, even if everyone is playing to type, except for maybe Woods. The plot and characters are written and performed so that the viewer can see the disasters coming way before the characters can--and that's how it should be. For example, as a viewer, you know as soon as it starts that it's a bad idea for Rothstein to kowtow to McKenna to win her hand in marriage, but Rothstein is blind in love and he ends up paying for it. Everything unfolds almost a bit predictably in this respect, and another slight flaw is that we're shown the penultimate moment of the film right at the very beginning. It tends to make it feel even more stretched out, as you keep anticipating that scene.
But the slight flaws shouldn't stop anyone from seeing this film, and of course, quite a few viewers feel that there are no flaws at all.
This films consists of nothing but expository narration through out the entire length of the film. I simply could not believe it at first. I felt sure that the two narrators, De Niro and Pesci, would stop talking at some point and the acting would start. This point never comes and you realise that this is what the movie will be: nonstop narration telling you what to think about a character, what the characters think, what's happening and what's about to happen.
It is unbelievable that someone would set out to make a movie this way.
In addition there is a constant 'commentary' of old songs through out. Some of this yet more underlining of the banal obviousness of a scene, such as when we see De Niro looking at Sharon Stone intently, the previous music is suddenly interrupted with "baby baby you're the one" and, just in case we haven't got it, we told in the narration that he has fallen in love. Is this film making for the under 5s? At other times however it seems that Scorcese is simply using the score as his personal jukebox and playing favourites from his own record collection.
All of this limits what little character development there is. The characters appear on screen, we are told who they are and what we should think about them and then move onto something else. A case in point is the romance between de Niro and Sharon Stone. He sees her and we are told (in narration) he is has fallen for her. Next we see them together and he asks her for change which she says she spent in the machines. We are again told in narration that this is untrue. So much for subtlety and acting eh? Then we next see them, we see De Niro proposing to her (after a voice-over telling us he was proposing to her naturally).
Joe Pesci does his usual schtick of an Italian-American psychopath, so we see him engaging needless brutality from early on. De Niro is his usual commanding self but the non stop narrative actually diminishes him as an actor. The same applies to all the other characters.
I could not make it to the end.
The casting is superb. Ace Rothstein - played by Robert DeNiro, a Scorsese regular - is probably the perfect model of what every aspiring gentleman wishes to one day become. The gorgeous Sharon Stone's performance is probably the best in her career as Ginger, but it is really Joe Pesci who shines most in this film. From his accent to his attitude, Pesci perfectly depicts the kind of criminal Nicky Santoro and his real- life persona were.
Anyone who even casually likes movies should definitely invest the three hours and watch CASINO. The way Scorsese brings you into the world of the casino and shows you the then-criminal element of its inner workings will give every viewer that curious yearning to participate in the dangers and defiance that all great crime movies instill. While we watch, most of us know what is happening on the screen is wrong, yet somehow we all want to be a part of it - admittedly or not :)
Something I really do think (more than my own opinion) is that if this was released before Goodfellas, this would be more liked. No new ground was broken, everything was just elevated.
Robert De Niro gives his most underrated performance--as well as the second best of the year (behind Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas)-- as Sam "Ace" Rothstein. Ace is an unbeatable gambler who secures the mob's casino shenanigans while his lifelong best friend, Nicky Santoro (Pesci) keeps everybody in line. The only real difference between Nicky and Tommy from Goodfellas is Tommy has curlier hair. There's divided opinion on who is crazier/more violent. I lean towards Nicky. Ace helps the casino grow and eventually seizes full power by becoming the owner. Nicky's wild and crazy antics get him banned from every Las Vegas casino, so he decides to create his own. Meanwhile, Ace blindly falls for a beautiful prostitute named Ginger (Stone) and they get married. Her habits don't change and Ace does all he can to help her out. The love story in this is amazing. Ginger is unlikeable but we can't turn away from her. Her and Nicky both contribute to Ace's fall as well as the rise of other casinos in Vegas.
One easy thing I loved was the performance by Robert De Niro. He is very likable and my heart breaks every time he is screwed over by Ginger and Nicky. He was easily a better lead than Ray Liotta and his character was more likable and deeper than Jimmy. In fact, all three of our leads in this are much deeper developed than the leads in Goodfellas. Ray Liotta is a dummy who is not cut out to be a mobster, while we see the conviction in Ace as he tries to make everything work out. Casino is also much more flashy and nicer too look at than Goodfellas which takes place in New York. The music in this is not distracting or overpowering. The filming is a step up. the flow is much better. And the story is superior. This has more of a linear and stable story than Goodfellas, which is just a man's escapades in the mafia. Everybody that watches Casino is impacted more than Goodfellas. To watch Casino, you have to be in a mood and well prepared. A movie has really done its job if it does that to a viewer, and actually has a purpose for its content.
For me, a 10/10 film is a film whereby not only each and every facet of is at least of a very high standard, but one that is so good that there is literally no single aspect of it that stands out as being even marginally weak, whether that be the acting performance of a character, a particular scene/section of the film, the dialogue or any other aspect that could be picked up on. Right from the off, the film must set a standard and a tone and keep on that course so as to at least remain within the same bracket of quality, whilst also excelling in every possible aspect along the way. Any deviation from this path represents an imperfection in terms of the way the film is balanced, and as such will prevent a perfect 10/10 score from being given.
Given this criteria, take The Godfather as an example: a timeless masterpiece that is rightfully held up as one of the greatest films of all time. The acting is sublime, the plot is compelling and the characters are all well fashioned. Despite these strengths however, Michael's development at the start is not handled with the same precision and quality as the rest of the film in my opinion. It stands out as being more rushed and less carefully crafted when measured against the rest of the film, and I felt the opening stages were in need of a couple more scenes to bridge the early phases of the transformation with what followed. This stood out for me in context of the quality of the rest of the film, and I would therefore deduct half a point on that basis. The difference in quality here is enough for me to call it a sizable imperfection in a relative sense.
Another example to use is Once Upon A Time In America, which is sometimes labelled 'the best gangster movie ever made', with people highlighting the exceptional plot and the wonderful soundtrack by Ennio Morrocone. These are, of course, valid points - the music is amongst some of the finest ever made for film, and the plot is as absorbing as it is complex. That being said, the acting is considerably lower across the board than in other classics in similar genres (Goodfellas, Godfather I and II, City of God, etc), and the score is often applied over-indulgently: the melodies of Deborah's theme and the main theme for example are destroyed by the end of the film, and scenes are sometimes made to seem exaggerated and jarring as a result. On top of that, there are occasions whereby these beautiful melodies are highly inappropriate, with one particular rendition actually making me laugh loud because of how bizarre it was (hint: the Cleopatra part of the film, after the...incident...in the car).
For those reasons, despite it's strengths, that film is an 8/8/5 for me. Very good, but there are too many imperfections and imbalances.
Anyway, I give that brief analysis of those two up there in order to illustrate my view that there are no literally no such relative imperfections and imbalances to point out with Casino. The film starts off well paced and sharp, and from the very offset it maintains an extremely high standard of acting, storytelling and pacing throughout.
Even nitpicking, I cannot think of a single weakness, and on top of that the strengths are seriously strong. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, as usual, are fantastic in their roles, and I honestly can't remember ever seeing anyone play a character like Sharon Stone plays in this so well. For all the right reasons, she made me feel hateful, angry and unpleasant. I cowered and cringed because of how well it was acted, and I spent most of the time watching her thinking about how much I wanted her character to meet a horrible, yet just ending.
Seriously... this film is a must-watch. There are a lot of unfair, unfavourable comparisons to Goodfellas in here, but I honestly think this is better. Does Goodfellas keep up the same standard of plot like this does throughout? I don't think so personally - the closing scenes are slower and weaker, where as Casino maintains an extremely high level, delivering accordingly right at the end. The ending is satisfying (for whatever reason - no spoilers here), and the tension that has been built up throughout is sufficiently capitalised on. Goodfellas, on the other hand, more peters out by comparison.
That is obviously is not to criticise Goodfellas - as a film that's about as close to 10 as you can get without it being 10 in my opinion. It's just that Casino is better paced, more consistent and more complex and nuanced in its plot. As well as this, it gains from the greater emphasis on De Niro and Pesci, who both play superior, more fleshed out characters in this.
The combination of these two and Sharon Stone in conjunction with this plot makes for an absolute masterpiece, and I highly recommend this film to anyone with even a passing interest in film and Scorsese. I was in awe of it throughout and think that, alongside Raging Bull, it's probably the most underrated film I've come across so far on IMDb.
Adapted from a true story, the film focuses on the fictional Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. The boss is Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, his wife, volatile hustler Ginger and his psychotic 'friend' Nicky Santoro. All they needed to do was to keep the cash-flow at the Casino steady to satisfy the bosses back home. But it was just never meant to be. And everything implodes at the end.
Casino is filled with dozens of sub-plots, tangent stories and brilliant side-characters. James Woods is especially funny as a lowlife con-man who can't even win a fight with a ten-year-old girl. Vinny Vella also amuses as long-suffering Artie Piscano. But it's Sharon Stone who walks away with the movie. Despite starring opposite loads of well-established male lead actors she owns Casino. She was absolutely robbed at the Academy Awards when they gave the Oscar to Susan Sarandon. Stone delivered a performance so authentic that it's truly unfair the amount of criticism she gets for her other, less-important films.
The violence will satisfy gore fans. In this lovely film we have a dope with his head in a vice (after getting icepicks in his balls), a truly brutal beating with baseball bats, some moron getting a pen shoved into his neck and a cheater getting his hand mashed by a hammer. Don't let this put you off, that was the old Vegas. Nowadays you just get told not to come back.
I know most people will call it sacrilege to condemn Goodfellas but Casino is just the better film of the two, plain and simple. Better lighting, far more impressive cinematography and more entertaining characters. It just has so much going for it that Goodfellas did not.
DeNiro and Pesci play two mobster friends who's friendship dies when they go to Vegas and DeNiro becomes pit boss. Money and greed brings them up to the top. DeNiro gets married to Sharon Stone's character, who is kind of a criminal with a bad love past.
I didn't give too much of the plot. Because a lot happens in the film's slow three hours.Magnolia,One of my favorite films, is three hours long. The Lord of the rings trilogy is three hours long. Schindler's list is three hours long. Titanic is three hours long.
Those films are all three hours long. Those films are all fantastic. Casino is a fantastic film. But still, it's not quite as good as The Departed, which is my favorite Scorsese film. It probably comes in second place for me.
Casino is a very engrossing,very well acted, very interesting, very long, and very great film. That is all I can say about it. I loved it. Despite it's length. That was the only problem I found with it.
It isn't all too original, it uses the same formulas as other Scorsese movies (particularly Goodfellas), but it just works. It's a fun movie. The camera moves as if it has a life of its own, almost every scene is set to great music, the dialogue and narration are top-notch, and everything is just perfect. What more could you possibly want?
It's the closest thing to Goodfellas II, but it still stands on its own very well. Everyone should see this movie. It's 3 hours well spent.
My rating: 10/10
People have wondered why Scorcese and Coppola keep coming back to mobsters, specifically the Mafia, and all that corruption mixed with loyalty. Of course no one knows, perhaps not even the directors.
But I suspect there are at least three reasons: First, it works economically. It draws the audience in. There is power and violence and sex to appeal to the men's fantasies. There is loyalty, intrigue, sheltered family lives, and the excitement of a wealthy rogue male for women.
Second, Italian-Americans may return repeatedly to stories of the Mafia for the same reason that Southern writers deal over and over with themes of minority relations. In spelling out the stories, they are explaining the odd customs of their subcultures to the rest of us. Yes, we are hung up on these obsessions, just as you believe, and here is how things work -- a bit more subtle than you'd thought, aren't they?
Finally, in exploring these themes in the interests of the outsider's better understanding of them, they can explore their own conflicts in model form, as stated in the anthropologist John M. Roberts' conflict-enculturation hypothesis. When we view something with ambivalence we tend to poke around in it, to touch it, fascinated by it. If we can't actually DO the thing itself -- become a mobster, endorse slavery -- we can play games with the idea, constructing little mock worlds in which we can jiggle the concepts around. In conflict about having children? Well -- you don't really need to. You can nurture something that is a model or surrogate child. Cats and dogs will do fine. But if your conflict is more intense, you are driven to less recognizable models. House plants, say. And if the conflict is VERY intense, you can start a coin or a stamp collection. What, after all, do you do with a stamp collection? You conceive of the idea, you start it when it's small, you feed it, you watch it grow and get bigger, and when it gets too big, or when you lost interest, you sell it on eBay and it moves out of the house. Directing a movie means constructing a model world too, like the model social world of a chess game.
In a movie, you lay out a plot, cause the characters to do certain forbidden things, and imagine how you might feel if you were doing them yourself. I'm not surprised that Scorcese made this movie, or that he's filled it with Italian-American actors. I'm not surprised that Faulkner wrote Intruder in the Dust, or that Judith Rossner wrote Looking for Mr. Goodbar, or that Philip Roth wrote Portnoy's Complaint. These model worlds they've created deal with issues like crime, race, female sexuality, and ethnic loyalties that have kept Italian-Americans and Southerners and feminists and Jews marginal to the rest of our culture. The artists are trying to explain to us and to themselves how things look from the inside. If these issues ever disappear, which is most improbable, the conflicts will ease, marginal populations will no longer be prompted to produce such intense work, and the rest of us will be poorer for it.
Maybe in this case Scorsese did too good a job of it. I found myself listening to DeNiro's voice-over telling us that the James Woods character was a "scumbag" because he was a small-time chiseler chasing dentists on the golf course, taking money from the whore Sharon Stone. But who is DeNiro's character to make such judgments? Woods is detestable because he's a vellicating minor hood with no money? Whereas DeNiro is morally superior because he's a major player with LOTS of illegal gains? We admire DeNiro because he is the more successful crook. The moral calculus is a little confusing.
On top of all that highbrow stuff -- man, does Scorsese know how to stage a fierce family fight. I should know. And that opening scene -- a car explosion backed by the majestic sweep of Bach's Missa Solemnis!
Robert DeNiro as the gambler boss of the Tangiers casino in Las Vegas of the 70s and 80s and Joe Pesci gangster are long time boyhood pals from the mean streets of Brooklyn. Both move out to Las Vegas seeking their respective places in their related fields at the orders of the higher ups in the criminal world. But circumstance drives them apart and one of those circumstances is Sharon Stone.
People descending into degradation is always a role that will get you noticed by the Academy. Sharon Stone's part as Ginger is no exception here. She's a high price call girl when we first meet her and her descent into drug addiction isn't pretty, but Scorsese keeps it very real.
But the main story line involves DeNiro and Pesci. To see ourselves as others see us is one elusive goal not attained by many in this world. These two aren't an exception. Each can see how the other is screwing up and absolutely cannot see what he's doing.
The key scene in the whole film is when DeNiro and Pesci meet in the desert where a lot of problems have been known to disappear. If you can get passed all the cursing which is how you would expect gangsters to talk, each is making very realistic assessments about the other one and neither is listening to a word the other is saying.
This is why I love Casino so much. I've never seen that particular theme ever handled so well on the screen.
Casino lasts almost three hours, and it's fair to say therefore that this movie is overlong. It's not so bad for the first two hours, but once the film enters the final third; cracks begin to appear and the film isn't as interesting as it was, not much unlike Goodfellas; which also suffered from a trite final third. Tarantino's influence on cinema is felt in this movie, and that is obvious from the way that Scorsese has seen fit to saturate the movie in 'cool' old classics. Still, some of these songs; such as Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" and The Animals' "The House of the Rising Sun" are really good songs and actually bode well with the action on screen. For this movie, Martin Scorsese has re-recruited the excellent pairing of Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, and both give their trademark excellent performances in this film. Casino may well be DeNiro's last great performance before he went on his downward spiral, which started with the fellow 1995 movie "Heat". On the whole, while this film is technically sound, it lacks emotional bite and there will be times during the film when your interest will trail off. It's an entertaining ride, but it's one that is ultimately shallow.