on June 28, 2004
'Casino' is a dominant film which is based on the true story of how Las Vegas was transformed from a simple gambling mecca into a place that has as much personality and colour as Disney World. Robert De Niro stars as a casino owner who is on the ground-level of the city's change. He is a high-class crook who's able to turn profits with the help of the mafia and crooked gaming practices (a norm for all casinos). Joe Pesci is on hand as the mob assassin with the short fuse who is De Niro's right-hand man. However, no one stays on top forever and De Niro's demise is partly due to his ex-prostitute wife (Sharon Stone, in her Oscar-nominated role). Bad decision-making, shady dealings, and questionable alliances will also be key factors in his ultimate downfall. Once again Martin Scorsese has created a film that is so multi-layered and smart that the viewer is completely engrossed for the entire 182 minutes.
'Casino' is a crime epic, in close contrast with 'The Godfather' series of films. Scorsese accomplishes what he did with 'Raging Bull' and 'GoodFellas'. Once again De Niro and Pesci shine with his direction and the unrelenting screenplay. Sharon Stone does the best work of her career. She does not necessarily shine brighter than De Niro and Pesci, but she holds her own and never lets either of them steal her thunder and lightning. Another great thing about 'Casino' is the supporting cast: Don Rickles, Kevin Pollak, James Woods, and Joe Bob Briggs all add great elements of both comedy and drama to this outstanding winner which has been overlooked on Scorsese's list of credits.
on May 24, 2004
Sharon Stone should have won an award for her role as Ginger McKenna. I think her performance showed a lot of character, with the problems she developed with cocaine and liquor, and her great acting really was exposed when she was feuding with DeNiro, and she looked good for 42. She slept with a childhood friend of her husband, Joe Pesci's character Nick Santoro, so she was made to look like. . .well, you know. Even when she married someone that was a professional gambler, she never became addicted to gambling herself, and that's a testament to the movie, because that would have been the predictable thing to do. I also liked the way the casino in Las Vegas was viewed, in DeNiro's narrating of all of the staff members, and the secret rooms in the casino. This was all based on a true story, so the viewer is learning what it's like inside a real casino. Complaints that I've read have been about the really disgusting violent scenes, especially the one where the guys head is in a vice. I'm actually surprised, because I read those reviews before I watched the movie, and there were a lot more gross scenes (a man being stabbed to death, two people being buried alive in the same grave). But, I wasn't grossed out because it's really hard to tell the story accurately without including this. I don't like how some people complain that this movie has Joe Pesci swearing too much. The premise called for it. There was no way this could be a fairy tale.
Anyhow, the 70's and the 80's were brought back nicely. There was a part where, either Joe Pesci or Robert DeNiro, narrating, talked about something that happened "e; back home, years ago "e; and then you see on the screen at the beginning of the next scene, "BACK HOME, YEARS AGO." It was funny. This was a really great movie.
on April 22, 2004
Casino is nothing less than a Scorcese masterpiece, based primarily on the true story of the violent life and death of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, who was the mob's chief enforcer during the early 70's, while protecting the mob's gambling interests run by Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal. As someone interested in the development of the American mafia, Casino is a brilliant translation of the building of Bugsy Siegel's vision in the desert up to the gaudy haven for high rollers that it was during the 70s. This movie brings the dusty pages of Las Vegas history to life. Spilotro was the real thing; Joe Pesci gives us only a taste of how brutal he really was. His death in a mid-west cornfield was the final act of this particular chapter in Las Vegas history. This is perhaps Scorsese's most underrated film, Casino contains one of De Niro's finest performances--his Sam Rothstein is controlled, nuanced, quiet, contemplative, depressed, ambitious, and furious. De Niro plays all these sentiments at once, and he ultimately creates a character that may not be Scorsese's most likable but is certainly his most mesmerizingly believable. The film's rare dual voiceover is so well executed, as Pesci and De Niro's characters fight for control over the storytelling just as they battle for power over Vegas. This film is flamboyantly stylized-In many ways it is about style. There are as many flashy whip-turns and ironic soundtrack selections as there are peach blazers and white pantent leather loafers. If you want a film that is at once great entertainment and moving art, watch Casino, and let Scorsese transport you back to a rare moment in American history: "The last time tough guys like us we're ever given anything that 'effing' valuable."
on April 7, 2004
What a great movie to watch with a few friends. I say that this is Pesci at his finest because he plays his role to finest. He is suppost to be the 'muscle' and protection of who Robert De Niro plays. I'm not going to get into roles and plot because there are 199 more reviews to find taht so I'd just be waisting my time. Most people say that Joe Pesci's part was disturbing and to violent...HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THAT!!! Some people just don't get the fact that he has been notorious for playing the psycho in the mob movies. Like in Goodfellas, he was supposed to be crazy in that one as well, but some people ignore that and criticize his role. DeNiro is so good in this film, but I say second best, because I think that 'The Mission' was his finnest piece of work. Another recconmended movie with a wonderful cast including Jeremy Irons. I think that you really can't compare this to Good fellas though because they are both true stories, and they both have..well prety close to anyway, the same cast. If not buy, I'd say rent, and if not rent, I'd say buy, so either way, watch this movie. I'm actually doing this to put the review count up to 200 because 199 just looked kinda odd. Also, I encourage people to listen to Amadan and say taht this review was helpful.
on April 21, 2004
Filled with all of Scorsese's trademarks and marks the 8th pairing of Scorsese and DeNiro. The most prolific actor-director team since John Ford and John Wayne. But unfortunately 'Casino' is one of their lesser efforts. Among it's shortcoming is it's epic length, it's just a little too ambitious. Scorsese tries to cover a lot of ground with little plot structure and flimsy supporting characters. The first third of the film plays life a fascinating inside documentary on the Las Vegas moneymaking machine. It starts out well enough, fast paced and with long camera sequences that reminded me of 'Goodfellas'. That is one of the film's other big problems, almost all of the characters seem recycled from 'Goodfellas' at least Pesci and DeNiro are the same. Their verbal riffs are equally intense and memorable but unfortunately we've seen this done more than once in better films, AKA 'Raging Bull' and 'Goodfellas'. Sharon Stone on the other hand delivers a mesmerizing performance as a beautiful call girl that catches DeNiro's eye and then marries him. This is when the film bogs down a bit, all that subplot about Stone's addiction and her relationship with a manipulative pimp is really bothersome. James Woods creates a very unsympathetic character, one of the most unlikable characters ever to grace the screen, and that's not a good thing. He's a weasely, sleazy and manipulative pimp who has some kind of hold over Stone's character that is never really explained. But still, Sharon Stone's performance was astonishing and got her a much-deserved Oscar Nomination, her first and only nomination. Pesci basically repeats the performance that won him and Oscar in 1990 with 'Goodfellas', he's the same hot-headed trigger-happy menace. DeNiro does his best but unfortunately his character has little to work with. Also appearing in supporting roles are Don Rickles (!) and Kevin Pollack. Filled with all of Scorsese's trademarks; an excellent 60's soundtrack, excellent use of slow-motion and voice-over, instantaneous mad bursts of violence and impressive use of cinematography and editing. Some violent scenes are a bit too graphic and definitely not for the squeamish. For example, the scenes where Pesci is torturing an Irish thug and almost squishes his head, and the unforgettably gruesome death of Pesci and his brother when they are both almost beaten to death with bats and then buried alive. Not a bad movie, in fact it remains a very good one, but one can't help but expect more from Scorsese who has proven himself to be one of the best and most original filmmakers in the last quarter of a century. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film a 7! --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition
on March 26, 2004
Casino is a stylish and entertaining story of a casino boss with mafia connections. Perhaps most impressive is the cinematography, particularly the opening sequence which backgrounds the Vegas atmosphere and mob involvement in operating the casino. DeNiro is perfect as the casino boss, and Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone and James Woods are also well cast in their respective roles. The narrative is entertaining but has no particularly clever twists, although this is largely determined by the fact that it is based on a true story.
However the slick presentation of the film overall is marred somewhat by the graphic violence, particularly scenes involving Pesci's character Nicky Santoro which are disturbing rather than entertaining. And while credit must be given for Stone's performance as Rothstein's scheming and semi-derranged wife, the repetitive and esculating portrayals of their arguing are rather unpleasant to watch.
I personally liked Casino more than Goodfellas, mostly for the visual elements and intrigue of the Las Vegas environment. However criticisms that Scorcese has indulged in rehashing the same formula as Goodfellas should not be overlooked, as the cast is nearly identical and there are some scenes that are too similar to be in a different movie. While a good film in its own right, it would be difficult to argue that it is much more than another Goodfellas filmed in Las Vegas.
on March 17, 2004
I was born in Chicago, and my father went to Stienmetz high school with Tony Spilotro, the mobster portrayed in this film by Joe Pesci. I grew up listening to stories about "the Ant" (not flattering), and when he was finally whacked, my old man (a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times) wrote what amounted to his obitiuary. In it he recalled such charming Spilotro antics as the time he threw acid at a girl who had rebuffed his advances and the time he tried to split open my dad's head, and thus prevent my birth, with a T-square during shop class. To top it off, I recently discovered my Dad's old yearbook (1955 or so), in which he and the future boss of Las Vegas are standing in true 1950s glory (slicked hair, plaid shirts, everybody wearing horn-rimmed glasses) next to each other on picture day.
So I guess you could say I had a personal interest in seeing how Marty Scorcese and his "Goodfellas" crew would tackle the subject of transplanted Chicago mobsters in the neon desert. My final verdict: they all did a hell of a job.
Pesci, as "Nicky Salerno" (all the names have been changed to protect the guilty) is just as horrifying and vicious here as he was as "Tommy DiVito" in "Goodfellas"; Pugnacious, bloodthirsty, bad-tempered, arrogant, and paranoid, but also capable of humor, loyalty and a certain weird charm. Some would say he was just playing the same character again, and yeah, he is, but he's so damn good at it, who cares?
Bobby D is superb (what else?) as "Ace Rothstien" -- the micro-managing, ego-maniacial Chicago handicapper and casino boss who trades in on his friendship with mobsters to become a big time player in Vegas, and promptly realizes he's let the snake in the manger. Nicky is what mobsters call a "Cowboy" -- a crazy, reckless hoodlum who thinks with his fists (or his gun, or the sharp end of a pen, or a telephone, or whatever's handy) and creates more wreckage than profit. He also attracts the attention of the Feds and the Nevada Gaming Commission, who soon make Ace's life miserable, and more importantly, begin to interfere with the Mob's ability to "skim" Casino profits back to Chicago. And if you know anything about the Outfit (as it is called there), you know N - O - B - O - D - Y is going to interfere with their profits and get away unscathed.
"Casino" is one of those movies where you watch bad guys get their hands on something really big, and drive it straight into the ground. Things blow up, people get beaten and whacked, fortunes are made and squandered, and monster egos crash against each other like bumper cars. There are many similiarities to "Goodfellas" except the stakes are much higher, and like "Goodfellas" there is not a character you really can root for -- Ace is miserly, controlling, egocentric and arrogant, Nicky is a straight up homicidal maniac, and Stone's character is your typical scheming, treacherous hooker-hustler. A lot of people felt this movie was the same thing, with the same cast, done not quite as well, and indeed, "Casino" is not as good as "Fellas" but it is a very good movie all the same. If "Fellas" had never been made, this might be a top-5 Mob movie of all time. I recommend it to anyone with a gangland fetish, 80's nostalgia and strong stomach.
And by the way, the actor Frank Vincent, who gets revenge on Pesci in this film (with a baseball bat) for twice getting the best of him in previous Scorsese movies ("Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas"), actually bears a stronger resemblance to the real Tony Spilotro than Joe Pesci does....wierd.
on March 4, 2004
Casino is a 172 minute 1995 Universal Studios release directed by Martin Scorsese. The cast is possibly the best cast assembled for a gangster movie. Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone are the featured stars, and do a brilliant job of portraying the mob lifestyle. The supporting cast features James Woods, Don Rickles, and Alan King, all of which deliver outstanding performances.
Casino is based on a true story dating from 1972 to 1983 on the life of Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert DeNiro), a professional gambler who has ties to the mob. He is enlisted to run a casino in Vegas for his gangster friends, who then take a cut of the profits. His friend Nicky (Joe Pesci), is in charge of looking out for Sam, and does the job with zeal. Sam meets Ginger (Sharon Stone), and falls in love. It is a storybook beginning, but then things begin to fall apart.
As with most gangster movies, things begin to go sour. Casino is a display of what unlimited money and power can do to those who are not careful. Ginger becomes a drug addict, and strays occasionally to an old flame, Lester Diamond (James Woods) for drug binges, spending tens of thousands of dollars. Nicky becomes to mob boss of Las Vegas, not asking permission from his bosses for what he does. He has the FBI trying to arrest him, and is banned from all the casinos in town. He also becomes involved in drugs and with Ginger, which can get them killed by the mob bosses. Sam is denied a gaming license, and begins to draw too much attention to himself and the mob by going on television to plead his case. He also has the added distraction of trying to deal with Ginger and Nicky, both of whom are causing him problems due to their activities.
Eventually all the activities in Vegas get the mob bosses in trouble and they kill almost everyone connected to them and the casino, except for Sam and Ginger who kills herself with an overdose of drugs. Sam goes back to gambling for the bosses and his dream life as a casino boss is over.
I would give this movie five stars. DeNiro, Pesci, and Stone are perfect for their roles, and the acting is flawless. The story line is original and compelling. The viewer gets to know the characters well, and can sympathize with them. I feel this is a movie not to be missed.
on March 2, 2004
In many ways, Casino is the epic Goodfellas could not be. Casino is about relationships between characters in and around organized crime and gambling, and it's about the arc that an entire city of pleasure takes over these people.
It's Scorsese and Pileggi and DeNiro and Pesci and Frank Vincent again and it's a top-notch, gorgeous gangster epic.
In the early 70s the Chicago Outfit sends Sam 'Ace' Rothstein out to Las Vegas to manage the casinos they're skimming cash from. Ace is a gambling master, a sure-bettor who never loses; soon the Tangiers is raking in more dough than ever due to his management. In order to better 'manage', the Outfit also sends Nicky Santoro, a crafty but hot-headed soldiers (Pesci) to Vegas, to provide the muscle. Pretty soon Pesci is smacking people around, stabbing them with pens, putting their heads in vices, and even vandalizing their cars (not to mention flat-out threatening to crack their heads open) all as he looks to set up his own empire away from the Dons in the Midwest.
When Ace marries a call girl named Ginger (Sharon Stone) and attempts to start a family, things start going downhill. Ginger is still involved with her old pimp, for one. And let me pause to mention that James Woods has played possibly the sleaziest, most disgusting rat pimp of all time, from the subtleties like his mustache and mesh shirt to his cheap talk and bullying threats. Eventually, Ace, Nicky, Ginger, Nicky's Vegas crew, they all manage to bring the house crashing down on them.
This is all based on the true story of the Chicago Mob in Las Vegas and the hold the families had on the big casinos. Pillegi's source book is an interesting account for sure, with more commentary from some minor characters in the film, giving it different angles than just the Deniro-Stone-Pesci trifecta.
The film looks gorgeous, it has to be one of Scorsese's biggest budgets. The 70s clothes, the cars, the settings--they manage to scrounge up enough un-touched 70s Vegas left, and they film in real casinos quite a bit.
The film is three hours long; there's a lot packed into this. Along the way it can be fun; the voiceover sequences of Ace describing the workings of a casino, or how people cheat (and get caught) playing blackjack, or the montage of Nicky's gangster antics, all make this very engaging. The film is a lot bloodier than Goodfellas, and even had to be cut (during the infamous head-vice scene.)
This can't be recommended highly enough, HOWEVER, once again we have a very lame DVD, not as bad as Goodfellas, but not much better. You don't have to flip this one over, but for a three hour film, there are far too FEW chapters, making it very frustrating if you want to watch certain portions again. There's a trailer, wow! There's also some text you can read on the production and the stars, but quite frankly, that is one of the lamest features they try to put on discs. Can't they simply print production notes in a booklet?
If you haven't seen this or Goodfellas, come out of the cave. If you listen to some people who say 'It's like Goodfellas, but not as good', well, you can let them think for you. It's as good as Goodfellas, and arguably better.
And Joe Pesci has some of the most choice swearing lines...
on January 22, 2004
"Casino" features much of the same cast as the excellent film "Goodfellas" with Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro returning as gangsters, this time in Las Vegas. This is the story of a mob-fronted casino boss and the local Mafia enforcer in Vegas. The film truly takes us inside the seamier side of 1960s Las Vegas, which at that time was more or less openly controlled by the Midwestern mob bosses. The film is practically a psueudo-documentary about how the mob ran Vegas.
Pesci and DeNiro turn in fine performances as enforcer and casino boss respectively. James Woods does his customary excellent job as the worthless dissolute, but controlling boyfriend of De Niro's wife, Ginger. The standout, however, is Sharon Stone as Ginger. She literally becomes the role, and ultimately dominates the latter portion of the film.
The storyline is brisk, and the explanation of the workings of the Vegas mob are very interesting. The film shows the ultimate pointlessness and wanton violence of the mob culture, as all of the major players ultimately come to bad ends. The film never takes itself too seriously, and there are many absolutely hilarious parts to the film. The sub-plot dealing with De Niro's attempt to get a casino license from the local Vegas good-old-boys is really funny.
Minor criticisms. First of all, the film involves 'way more swearing than is necessary. Yes, I have no doubt that mobsters really do talk this way, using the F-word every third word, as Pesci does throughout the film. But it probably would have been OK to clean this up anyway--I think that to have done so would have added to, rather than detracted from, the movie's impact. The violence throughout the film is such that it is not suitable for young kids.
Basically an excellent adult film that retains the viewer's interest, tells an interesting story, and features very fine performances by the cast. Recommended for what it is.