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Movie Reviews




Released: 22nd November 1995

Director:Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone

Certificate: 18

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

The De Niro/Scorsese partnership begins another chapter with the 1995 film Casino.De Niro stars as Casino owner Sam ‘Aces’ Rothstein, In an era of over-the-top glitz and glamour, Rothstein is flying high as the front man for the Mobs multi-million dollar Casino in Las Vegas, The Tangiers. To protect their investment they send Aces boyhood friend Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) a hot headed, muscle man. It seems to be running perfectly, the combination of Ace’s brains and Nickys brawn keeps them at the top of their game and the money continues to roll in, until Ginger Mckenna (Sharon Stone) becomes part of the equation. Mesmerizing Ace, they eventually marry and he gives her everything she ever dreamed of. However she loses control and her drug and alcohol addiction cause her to come between Sam and Nicky, as well as causing Ace to take numerous risks. Something he has learnt never to do.

The film is an interesting mix of bright lights, dazzling performances and memorable scenes. Casino shows us the cracks behind the glossy exterior of Las Vegas’ five-star lifestyle. You can enjoy the Las Vegas-lifestyle from the comfort of your own home with Spinzwin Casino

Casino creates a fantastic atmosphere from the start, in the opening scene we see Ace climb into a car, only for it to explode seconds later. Starting at the end, Casino back tracks its story across several decades. A clever re-telling of the events that unfolded in Las Vegas is due to the narration of the story by several of the main characters. Nicky (Pesci) and Ace share the majority of the narrating, while smaller characters jump in and out when describing events that affected both Nicky and Rothstein. The interweaving of the dialogue spoken within the scenes and the narration is a perfect example of the subtle ingenuity that Scorsese has created with Casino.

While De Niro is as good as ever in his role as Rothstein, it is a rare occasion where one of his performances plays second string to another actors. However, Pesci is even more impressive as Nicky Santoro than he was in a similar role as Tommy De Vito in Goodfellas. He really is the perfect psycho. His ability to ‘lose it’ never ceases to amaze me and it is his mentality that sets up the films, if not some of modern cinemas, most hard-hitting scenes.

I would not use the above description lightly. Any scene that can still cause its viewers to cringe the fourth or fifth time of seeing it deserves a mention. I’m referring to two scenes in particular. Firstly, the ‘pen scene’, while drinking at a club, Ace is told to shove a pen he finds ‘up his ass’ by an arrogant bar-goer. Nicky hearing this, grabs the pen and stabs the man repeatedly in the chest and neck. Gruesome and graphic, but Pesci’s expression is pure acting gold. In the second scene, Nicky is interrogating an Irishman to find out who was behind a bar shooting. An interesting questioning technique is used- Placing the man’s head in a table vice and tightening it until his eye, literally pops out of his head. This scene is one of the few moments that it’s impossible to turn away from yet you know you should.

A special mention must go to Sharon Stone’s performance as Ginger, switching from confident hostess, to shaking drug addict she is perfect as the woman that ruins it all. Her actions and betrayal cause Ace and Nicky to clash and ultimately see their relationship spiral out of control. James Woods cameos as pimp Lester Diamond, the man who Ginger can’t turn her back on despite having everything see dreams of with Ace.

At 178 minutes long its certainly one of the most in depth films you could hope to watch (with the exception ofOnce Upon A Time In America, with a staggering run-time of 220 minutes) However, there are so many details and events within the film, that it never drags. Scorsese never lingers for long on the unnecessary. His eye for perfection from both the cast and the writing creates a fantastic film experience that should be enjoyed by anyone who is a fan of his work, De Niro, or good movies in general.

Casino is a hard-hitting but all the while unbelievably entertaining film. A fantastic concept matched with equally top-class acting gives one of the best films of the 90’s and is perhaps Scorsese most underrated piece of filmmaking. Take a gamble and watch Casino- I bet you can’t help but enjoy it.

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