Martin Scorsese: A retrospective in words
Casino presents the rare, inspiring sight of a director pushing his skills, obsessions and stylistic experiments to the limit. Scorsese’s attempts to bridge narratives and explore worlds through montage and voice-over, to fuse high and low culture, to gain panoramic insights into America, to show violence as hard and ugly as possible – all pushed to the extreme in the casino . When The Age of Innocence Scorsese is in its best shape, Casino Marty is gone. It is a film in which a shot from the straw of a cocaine sniff, white flakes sucked towards the camera like a sandstorm, appears subtle. The film, which breaks out in its opening scene – literally, when Robert De Niro appears to have been blown up by a car bomb against Bach’s “Matthew Passion” – becomes an opera of the dirty ones (the credits also represent that last work by the great film editor and title designer Saul Bass). Instead, Scorsese’s first film in 12 years without Michael Ballhaus is shot in Robert Richardson’s bold colors and light-scattering style. Richardson’s camera drinks in a landscape of bad wigs and make-up faces, cocaine and blood, false glamor and phonic humanity.
What is the Movie Casino about?
Even so, Casino is a film about marriage – a Shakespeare-scale bad marriage that is destroyed by what kills most marriages: money, distrust, and infidelity. Casino is another logical step over the street level from Mean Streets. The calming attitude of the Goodfellas crew is expressly missing; Jimmy the Gent, Tommy and Paulie are endearing when compared to the at all costs obscene obscenity of Las Vegas and its resident hoods. Casino was Scorsese’s most angry and punky film since Taxi Driver and joined two other exciting films from the mid-1990s – Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Paul Verhoeven’s showgirls deliberately overuse the city of abundance; Like these films, though not as strict, Casino was greeted without admiration.
But Casino is Scorsese’s great burn-it-down statement, the extreme end of his disgust and delight in everything found in American culture. He films Las Vegas in all its technicolor splendor and grotesque, a symphonic swirl of lights, sex, currency and blood. The film follows the real story of the alleged mob tool Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and the Chicago gangsters Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and Frank Cullotta, who here as Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) were rendered. and Frank Marino (Frank Vincent). Sam and Nicky are childhood friends who come closest to the film of Goodfellas or Mean Streets mood years ago. Sam is a great gambler, a random scientist, who made a living as a bookmaker at the behest of the rabble until the early 1970s. He leaps into the management of the new Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas, which is theoretically controlled by developer Phillip Green (Kevin Pollak), who borrowed funds from the infamous Teamsters Pension Fund. Of course, this means that it is a mob-controlled development. The Mafia Dons, led by Remo Gaggi (Pasquale Cajano), dare not get any closer to Vegas than Kansas City. The future of their cash cow requires a squeaky clean image, while their finely calibrated skims bring Titanic earnings.
Sam does his job with micromanager finesse and ice cold authority. His awareness of systems – control systems, surveillance systems and happiness systems – is excellently emphasized by Scorsese’s always mobile camera. He knows that despite all the illusions the city presents, the house almost always wins, and even if it doesn’t, it can be dealt with. He can sabotage big winners like he does with a Japanese high roller and keep him stuck in the city until he gambles away everything he wins and ruthlessly punishes fraudsters. You let your partner smash your hand with a hammer, who is offered the choice between “money and hammer” or going away. In a way, Sam and the rest of the casino also picked the money and the hammer.