Thursday, January 19, 2017

Movie Review: "Casino" (1995)

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Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 58 minutes

A sports handicapper with mafia ties named Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is sent to Las Vegas to run the Tangiers Hotel and Casino. He manages to create one of the most profitable hotels in Vegas. Things start to go downhill when Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), a mob enforcer sent to Vegas to protect the interests of the bosses back home, starts doing his own thing and making waves for Rothstein, his casino, and the bosses themselves.

"Casino" is directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese and is based on the non-fiction novel "Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas" by Nicolas Pileggi, who many may know worked with Scorsese previously on "Goodfellas." It stars Robert De Niro as Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, the best sports handicapper in the business. He is so good at making money from gambling, the Chicago mob bosses ask him to run their Vegas casino called the Tangiers. He reluctantly accepts the position and takes to the job like a duck to water. He makes the Tangiers the most profitable in Vegas. Of course, the bosses need an actual Italian out there in the desert protecting their interests and making sure they get their cut. That's where mob enforcer Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, comes in, and that's also where things start getting screwed up for Ace.

This is a film all about the ins and outs of old school Las Vegas in a time when it was still run by the mafia before the corporations took over. Much of the story is told through voice-over narration from De Niro and Pesci as they each give the run-down of Vegas, their businesses, and their misdealings in sin city from their perspective. These are businesses that, if they were owned and operated anywhere else, would be illegal, but in Vegas, what they do is mostly on the up and up. Santoro, however, isn't satisfied with just protecting the interests of their bosses and starts doing his own thing, which begins to cause troubles for his friend Rothstein. To make matters worse, 'Ace' falls for a gold-digging former showgirl named Ginger, played by Sharon Stone, who does an amazing job in her role and even took home an Oscar nomination for her role in this crime drama.

"Casino" is a gripping film about all of the nastiness that went on behind the scenes in Vegas during the 70's. Though much has been changed, like names of people and businesses, it is loosely based on the true story of Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Hacienda, and Fremont Casinos in Vegas. This film has a terrific cast, and each person acts their heart out to make the story feel realistic and intense. This film really does have brilliant acting from everyone involved in this picture. It showcases Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro at their absolute best. Of course, being a film directed by the incomparable Martin Scorsese, the visuals are stupendous, even if they are often very graphic in nature. It is a movie shot in a pristine, exquisite manner, one that will keep the audience completely engaged and utterly fascinated with the characters and the overall culture of Vegas in its heyday. This is a must see movie for film lovers and fans of Martin Scorsese.

My Rating: 9.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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