193 of 1001 Movies: Casino (1995)

It seems that Casino and The Departed rank at the top of Martin Scorsese directed mob films. I think that I liked Casino a bit more. You have characters that you just absolutely loathe, and then others that you just wish would stop making such terrible decisions. The three characters that the movies revolve around though are a mix of the good and bad, but all ultimately making decisions that break the law. What is intriguing is how the top character, Sam, blames everyone as he is suffering a downfall, but anyone watching can trace it to his own bad choices outside of the ones he blames.

Summary: There are two sides to Las Vegas in this movie. The glitzy, glamorous one that people go to for entertainment and winnings, and the darker side where violence, losing, and greed comes in. Sam has moved to Vegas and now basically manages a Casino, and not long after his friend Nicky follows along to keep the odds in place with his ruthless ability to be violent and scary. They both have their downfalls though. With Sam it becomes a woman he falls in love for,but doesn’t return his love, Ginger. He’ll do anything for her to keep her. For Nicky the violent power and the addictions he has become more and more apart of him to the point he doesn’t care what happens to him.

Acting: The acting is really strong and gosh there are some characters you like and some you really do not. Ginger has to be the most unlikable character I’ve come across in a movie. You just keep hoping she’ll change and you feel the disappointment as much as Sam does. I think Sharon Stone does a great job at portraying her though and making her feel just like a lost puppy. Stone gives us hope and then rips it away. I think the difference between Ginger and the other characters is that there never was a point she was likable. Robert De Niro is Sam, and De Niro just shows why he is a legend in acting. He has a very charming demeanor, but the guy’s arrogance is growing, and it isn’t even obvious till the end. The thing is you also really feel bad for him. He seems to be a guy who doesn’t really want any trouble, but it finds him. There is also Joe Pesci as Nicky, and I hadn’t seen him in anything before, but I thought he was good as Nicky. Normally you wouldn’t just seem him on the street and probably be threatened, but the guy was really scary in this movie.

Filming: Scorsese brings to life the scene of Vegas very well even if it is in the 70’s and 80’s it still has this vibe that draws people there today. You can also see the inspiration this movie had on heist and casino movies to follow it. It ranges in musical score to quick, fast paced, catchy, cool beats, to more serious dramatic ones when the scenes get intense. The scenes also move quickly, and follow in a way to keep us moving at all times. Even though the movie could be slow in description there is never a scene that lulls. The shots also capture interesting angles to get us more involved with the emotions happening in the moments of the characters by angling it from sideways to really close.

Plot: The plot is one that runs right at 3 hours long. There is never an inch of the movie that doesn’t feel needed though. It all drives forward the movie in some way. You also get more attached to some characters than you thought, so if they have a bad ending it does disturb you unlike you thought it would. Most of all the director knew how to really tie the person to Sam. His flaws are well woven into the story, but the guy just somehow is someone you want to see make it out though he essentially doesn’t seem like has become anyone better than anyone else.

Casino is lively and entertaining, and it’s also very dark in moments. The characters all feel like they meet their appropriate ending after their story has been told though. Also, it seems that Scorsese has an addiction to a Rolling Stone song that has popped in both mob movies mentioned now. I still like it though, and it does make the movie seem cooler for some reason.

Rating 9 of 10.

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