Thursday, July 31, 2014

A-Z Movies, C: "Casino"

Recommended by:
Hafidha (friend)

Movie Stats:
Released 1995 (USA)
American & French, in English (some very minor non-translated French & Persian) 
Director - Martin Scorsese
Stars - Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, and many others

Plot Summary:
A difference of opinion on tactics, and a woman, come between two old mafia friends in 1980s Las Vegas. De Niro plays casino boss Sam “Ace” Rothstein; Pesci plays enforcer & street boss Nicky Santoro; and Stone plays the woman, Ginger McKenna.

Extreme, graphic violence; lots of blue language, including racial and homophobic slurs; very brief female nudity (breast and butt); and implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
In general, I’m not a big fan of using voiceover. I don’t mind it in small doses, especially if it’s only at the beginning of a film (and it made sense at the beginning here to set up the story). A whole film of it, however, is just too much. To me it feels like lazy writing. I shouldn’t need constant voiceover exposition to explain what’s happening. The characters’ actions, words, and facial expressions should convey all of that.

Except for Ace, I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters. I couldn’t have cared less when [SPOILER] nearly all of them inevitably died because it’s a Scorsese film what did you expect [SPOILER].

I was bored.

Good Stuff:
The costuming and styling were fantastic. I spent the whole film admiring them.

While De Niro frequently plays very similar characters, he has enough acting ability to provide nuance. I really liked his portrayal of Ace, who at his core was a good guy even though he was a bad guy. To me his performance stood out in sharp relief against Pesci, who always plays the same character without nuance (albeit a character I happen to enjoy having on my screen, especially in “Home Alone”).

The soundtrack was spot on.

The Verdict:
Scorsese is so hit and miss for me. He directed one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Departed.” He also directed a movie I loathe so much that it still makes me angry that I ever watched it, “Gangs of New York.” His movies are pretty much always too long, so they can be a chore to get through even when you like them. I think he’s better at hitting his mark when he develops his characters in a way that’s relatable to the audience. That’s why “The Departed” is so eminently watchable.

“Casino” isn’t the worst Scorsese film I’ve ever seen but it’s definitely on the lower end of the spectrum for me. I didn’t like most of the characters and I couldn’t care less about casinos or gambling, so it just ended up feeling like work to me. I didn’t hate it, but if anyone ever invited me over for movie night and wanted to watch this I’d have to turn them down. 

I give the movie 2.75 stars.


Patricia said...

When I saw Goodfellas recently, I was surprised at just how much voiceover was present in that film. I remembered the voiceover from the beginning, because it's my favorite opening line ever, but it was all. throughout. the. movie. Which bugged me. I wonder if that was a late 80s-to-90s thing? Or just a Scorsese thing?

I worked for Blockbuster Video for approximately three months, but some movies are stuck in my mind as "Blockbuster Video" movies because they were prominently featured when I worked there. This is one of them. I've never seen it though.

Also, I love your rating qualification of "come over and watch it/no" It's amusing.

balyien said...

That's funny, the opening line of this movie (a voiceover by Robert DeNiro) is my favorite of the whole film. Perhaps Scorsese has a knack for great opening lines!