Casino (1995)
February 7, 2018 6:39 PM - Subscribe

A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.

NYTimes: With its rivers of cash and mountains of neon, its high rollers and lowlife hoods, "Casino" luxuriantly explores the anatomy of America's gaudiest (and now most cinematically popular) playground. The place is quagmire enough for an epic morality play, but this film's tone is staunchly journalistic, as borne out by its matter-of-fact last words: "And that's that."

Variety: Announcing its far-reaching operatic intentions in a flamboyant credit sequence, the film is a Paradise Lost about low-lifes, a story of the big one that got away, the bookend to “Bugsy,” an ironic tale about how some highly individualistic criminals had the whole world in their hands only to fumble it and blow the game for themselves.

Rolling Stone: The goodfellas who came to Vegas in the 70s, before the government ended the mob's control over gambling, found a fantasy island of cash for the taking. It was a place to exceed the most grandiose dreams of the petty crooks of Mean Streets and GoodFellas. Sam "Ace" Rothstein (De Niro), a handicapper out of Chicago, saw Vegas as "a morality carwash." As long as he let the mob skim its take in the counting rooms, Ace could run four casinos, wear sharp suits, live large in a house with a pool, marry former showgirl Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), raise a family and pass for respectable among the politicians he bribed. No need for Ace to get his hands dirty. Nicky Santoro (Pesci), Ace's hit-man pal just in from back home with his wife and son, takes care of the head busting. Hotheaded Nicky attends Little League, too, but mostly he kills people. The fragile house of cards collapses when Nicky fucks around with Ace's business and his wife. The public fallout from this violent love triangle costs the mob its hold on Vegas. Scorsese plays it as Shakespearean tragedy with Ace as an Othello so driven by jealousy and pride that he loses his wife and his fiefdom.

Roger Ebert: Unlike his other Mafia movies ("Mean Streets" and "GoodFellas"), Scorsese's "Casino" is as concerned with history as with plot and character. The city of Las Vegas is his subject, and he shows how it permitted people like Ace, Ginger and Nicky to flourish, and then spit them out, because the Vegas machine is too profitable and powerful to allow anyone to slow its operation. When the Mafia, using funds from the Teamsters union, was ejected in the late 1970s, the 1980s ushered in a new source of financing: junk bonds. The guys who floated those might be the inspiration for "Casino II." "The big corporations took over," the narrator observes, almost sadly. "Today, it works like Disneyland." Which brings us back to our opening insight. In a sense, people need to believe a town like Vegas is run by guys like Ace and Nicky.

LATimes: "Casino," the story of how the mob won and lost Las Vegas, proves two points so conclusively you can take them, so to speak, to the bank. One is that Martin Scorsese is a master filmmaker, so skilled in the manipulation of imagery he might be the most proficient of active American directors. The other is that despite his dazzling ability, Scorsese is finding it increasingly difficult to make his personal obsessions accessible to an audience.

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Martin Scorsese’s ‘Casino’ stands as one of the highlights of not only the nineties’ cinema, but of gangster films in general as well

Canon Fodder: Martin Scorsese's Casino


Someone figured out how often people say Fuck in Casino and Goodfellas.
posted by MoonOrb (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
“fast living and fast loving socialite“? Sharon Stone’s character, Ginger, is a hooker until she marries. The score, supervised by Robbie Robertson, is the best part.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:30 PM on February 7, 2018

look i'm just here to see joe pesci get beaten to death in a cornfield
posted by poffin boffin at 7:58 PM on February 7, 2018 [9 favorites]

I would love to watch Ebert's Casino II.
posted by rhizome at 9:03 PM on February 7, 2018

It's been awhile since I've watched it, but the thing that sticks out for me in my memory is the narration. There's a TON of voice-over narration in this movie. At the time I saw it, I was up to my eyeballs in film theory and ideas about pure cinema and visual storytelling, so my impression was that it was pretty disappointing for a filmmaker as intensely visual as Scorsese to rely so heavily on narration. I'll have to revisit it and reconsider. I do remember being very impressed that his next film, "Kundun," had no narration at all, despite its subject matter being less familiar to western audiences, which I considered a bold, artistic choice.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:25 AM on February 8, 2018

I had eaten mushrooms before I saw this film, and when the opening credits started, with its frenzy of Vegas lights, I nearly died from the beauty of it.
posted by maxsparber at 11:27 AM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Coincidentally, the Las Vegas Knights recently tweeted this:
the arena organ is playing the song that's playing when all the mobsters get whacked at the end of Casino and we have no idea if it's for us
posted by rmd1023 at 4:45 AM on February 10, 2018

One of my favorite movies. De Niro is so, so good.
posted by Nelson at 8:30 AM on February 10, 2018

I would love to watch Ebert's Casino II.

That would be Wall Street
posted by Beholder at 9:16 AM on February 10, 2018

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