14 May 2003 | FilmOtaku
Typically fantastic Scorcese film
I have to admit my bias, because I believe that Scorcese cannot do wrong - ever. Even his lesser-known or critically panned films are above the "great film" line, and Casino is certainly no exception.
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.