Scorsese Month 2015 Review: Casino

Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay By: Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi
Release Date: November 22, 1995
Run Time: 178 Minutes
Rating: R
Score: 2.75/5

While “Casino” is by no means a bad movie, this is by far the lest good movie i’ve seen from Scorsese up till this point. Again, it’s not bad, but the ease in witch i can put this one the bottom of the “best Scorses movies i’ve seen” list is kind of staggering. I think a larg part of that is the sorce material. Bassed off of a book writen by co-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, i think a lot of my issues stim from this story simply not being as interesting from the get-go as “Goodfellas” or “Wolf oof Wall Street” was. I mean, the movie is about a guy helping the mob skim movie from Casino’s, there’s not a lot you can really do with that. Thius is a fact everyone seemed to be awear of as a lot of the film focusis on Robert De Niro’s “Sam Rothstein” and Sharon Stone’s “Ginger McKenna” detiriorating marriage. While that’s not all that happenes the fact is, nearly the entire second act of this movie feels like it forgot that it was a mob movie.
So what’s the film about? Well, in the 1970’s the Itallan mob had a pretty strong hold on Las Vagas Casino’s. In order to make sure everything is running smothly one family sends De Niro’s “Sam Rothstein” to run one of thier Casino’s, and Joe Pesci’s “Nicholas Santoro” to make sure nothing went wrong with the skim (where they mob bosses would take money off the top of the casino’s profit). The only problem? Well, Nicholas can’t quite control himself, and he soon finds the eyes of the law on him. While Sam tries to distance himself, Nicholas really doesn’t seem to care about the fact that the fed’s have their eyes on him and he continually made more trouble. As the two men become more and more enraged at each other (Sam angry over the unwanted attention and Nicholas mad over a seeming lack of disrespect) focus s taken off the Las Vegas operation until it all crumbles.
In the end, that’s really all there is too say about “Casino”. This is the story of two men who let ego and outside circumstances get in the way of what was a very lucrative operation. And if this was a 90 minuet movie, that probably wouldn’t have been too bad. Unfortunately the film is nearly 3 hours long, and thus there is a lot that feels like padding. For example, Sam gets married to a woman who says out right “i don’t love you”, so you know it’s not going to work out for the two of them, but there is so much time devoted to watching their marriage fall apart that you have to wonder why no one just did a voice over saying “things feel apart, and she died from an OD a few months after we got divorced”. Sure, there are scene that it makes since to have in the film, Like how McKenna left their child tide up and locked in her room alone one night so she could go out drinking, or how she ripped off Sam near the end, but almost everything else is superfluous and could have been handled in a way that didn’t make the movie drag on.
Then there is also a really annoying feature where both De Niro and Joe Pesci are giving movie-overs throughout the film. While I never confused one for the other or anything like that I found it to be an odd decision that didn’t sit well with me. This may just be a personal gripe, but it’s something that did make the film lesser in my eyes. To me it made the film seem like it was losing focus, and it would have been better to just make this De Niro’s story about having to deal with a man like Pesci’s “Nicholas”.
However, I did say the movie wasn’t bad, didn’t I? And to the films credit, the acting saves this film. While you wont think of “Sam Rothstein” when someone asks to name you’re favorite De Niro performance, he does great work here, and the same goes for the rest of the cast. Everyone took their roles seriously and the film is compulsively watchable because of it. Sure you may check you’re watch throughout the movie and even ask “was this scene really necessary” you will at lest be thankful you’re watching an overlong good movie instead of a 3 hour mess where either none of the cast can act or they choose not too (looking at you transformers).
So how does this stack up? Again, I can easily say this is the lest good Scorsese i’ve seen. While i don’t hate it, there really just isn’t a debate about that fact for me. But every director has thier “bad” movies right? Spielberg has “Kingdom of the Cristal Skull”, George Lucas has the “Star Wars” prequels and David Fincher has “Alien 3”, so it’s not uncommon for creative people to strike out every once in a while. And to be fair, “Casino” is a better movie than any of those, so even if this is the worst Scorsese has to offer, he’s still better than most. See you next time as i take a look at “The Departed”, the film that won Scorsese his first Oscare.