#119 / 365 – ‘Casino’ (1995) – 178 mins
IMDb Challenge #73 / 250 – Ranked #176 – Via DVD Collection
Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) are two mobsters who move to Las Vegas to make their fortunes. But they come into conflict with Ace falls for a pushy showgirl, Ginger (Sharon Stone) and Nicky falls into a cycle of drugs and violence.
Martin Scorsese’s Casino is very much an underrated film mainly due to many seeing it as Goodfellas Part II, and yes granted there are strong similarities between this and that mob masterpiece, its co-written with Goodfellas screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, uses the same narration technique and it casts the usual Scorsese suspects, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci who like in ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’ again feed brilliantly off each other. The best performance comes from Pesci who is scarily at ease playing psycho Nicky Santoro, he maybe a small guy but he commands every space he walks in. De Niro, one of my all-time favourite actors is great playing the straight and level-headed professional gambler Sam “Ace” Rothstein but is outshone by his co-star and isn’t as dynamic.
The dialogue from Pileggi is rich, memorable and often quotable, and at the time achieved the world record for using the word “fuck” most times in a movie, an incredible 398 times. There are a few stomach churning scenes, most notably Pesci’s effective use of a vice and then the vicious beating of him and his brother before being buried alive.
Casino is for me is slightly more ambitious than Goodfellas partly down to the fact that Scorsese puts an incredible level of detail into his showing of Las Vegas to make it a masterfully directed and acted epic which confidently paces itself in telling its story and like Vegas itself, it knows that it will ultimately dazzle and seduce you.