Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #117 Casino

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 at 12:33 AM

Movie #117 Casino

(1995, US, d. Martin Scorcese)

Coming five years after the release of Goodfellas, Casino is as much an original film as it is a revisitation of thematic content, stylistic design, and character composition of the former. And therein lies the biggest problem with the film: I couldn’t help but get over the fact that everything that was done was done better in Goodfellas. The two main leads are played by the same actors and they both play less extreme versions of the characters they did in 1990. Joe Pesci’s voiceover introduction is actually line by line the exact one given to him in Goodfellas. Robert De Niro now plays Sam “Ace” Rothstein – still an understanding nice guy, but nevertheless significantly less intimidating. Employing the same formal documentary techniques as he did half decade earlier, Scorcese is still at his best in this complex crime drama about trust and the mob. However, there seemed more of a need to employ those techniques in the earlier film. The greatest achievement a film can accomplish, in my opinion, is when the style of the film is adopted to the theme of the piece. In Goodfellas, there was a need to adopt the style so as to separate the audience from the actions onscreen but here I didn’t sense that as much. The jump cuts, freeze frames, sudden voiceovers, and final scene camera stare all embellished the look of the movie but Goodfellas did that and then some. And granted they are about slightly different things, they both involve themselves in issues of trust and family. Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorcese, both who wrote both screenplays together, probably constructed this film as a companion piece with the same narrative structure following the sudden rise and slow, dramatic fall of its protagonists. And while I (obviously) think it wasn’t as good as their previous collaboration, Casino is still a very intriguing and driven film about the Las Vegas world and the secrets the desert around it holds. If you have three hours and a lot of testosterone to spare, check this out.

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