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Casino (1995)

by British Film Critic

With these crime epics, like Goodfellas or The Irishman, Scorsese can’t help but bring an unchallenged level of energy, with Thelma Schoonmaker bringing her absolute A-game, proving to be a harmonious pairing for his irreverent, fast-paced and deliberately convoluted storytelling yet again, always keeping you on the ball with the elaboration of these sprawling mob stories, which would certainly be an accurate description of Casino, with a certain style and wit that means you sure that you’re watching Scorsese

The filmmaker has a real affinity for these ‘paradise lost’ scenarios, and Casino has a very straightforward depiction of its paradise, in the casinos of Las Vegas, with Robert Richardson effortlessly capturing the glitz and glamour, comprising every shot full of personality, colour and creativity. This film really is Martin Scorsese at his peak, uniting all the best parts of his productions, with Schoonmaker, Richardson, De Niro and Pesci all coming together and bringing their absolute best.

It would be naive to expect a subpar performance from De Niro, but it never fails to amaze me how he is always able to bring something different to every single performance – Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein is a much more meticulous, restrained and perpetually understated character, who’s outbursts are few and far between, and so all the more impactful as a result. Pesci may even one up De Niro in this one however, undoubtedly giving one of his best performances, along with the unparalleled, well and truly timeless chemistry the two heavy weights have with one and another. I need not even mention Sharon Stone’s fantastic performance but really all of the characters in the film are incredibly well fleshed out, and as much as there is a strong focus on the actual geography of the events, the real emphasis is always on our characters.

Despite the dynamism and versatility that Scorsese has continued to demonstrate over the course of his career, I’d be lying if I said that these witty, fast, riveting character-driven crime epics aren’t what really draw me to him as a filmmaker – Casino is just another glaring example of his immense talent.