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Retro Review: Casino (1995)

Robert De Niro

I took a trip down to New York, which if you don’t know is a little more then 4 hours away from Boston. What better film to throw onto my iPhone then my old favorite Casino (clocking in at 2 hours 40 minutes, its length is perfect). While it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d do a little write up.

Casino is Scorsese’s second pairing with organized crime memoirist Nicholas Pileggi. Based on the life of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, the film follows the life of Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert de Niro), and his management of the mob controlled “Tangiers” Casino. The film follows Sam, mobster Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), and Sam’s relationship with a former hustler, Ginger (Sharon Stone).

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The film, like many of Scorsese’s films, is slightly untraditional in its story (Scorsese himself has said the only film he’s made with a plot is The Departed), the film is a series of mini situations in the characters life. The audience looks at a specific period of time in Ace Rothstein’s life, and the story is told primarily though a voice-over by Rothstein and Santoro.

Casino marked Scorsese’s first collaboration with Cinematographer Robert Richardson (Aviator, Kill Bill, JFK). The production design is unbelievable, and performed by Scorsese regular Dante Ferretti (the man could make a dog house interesting). Casino is a film that captivates you from its explosive beginning, and you truly want to see what position the characters find themselves by the end of the film. Scorsese’s signature soundtrack can be found here, along with a killer (pun) montage of mob “hits.”

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Despite all these stellar technical achievements, the film only received one Academy Awards nomination, a deserving Best Actress nomination for Sharon Stone.

Casino is a polished, entertaining, and interesting film, and if you haven’t seen it, well, lets just say, its a sure bet you should.

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