Casino - * * *

Finely detailed analysis of the mob-controlled casinos in the 70s, but it lacks the soul of Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Robert DeNiro is Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a professional gambler hand picked by the mob to run the Tangiers casino. Sharon Stone is Ginger, the con-artist/hooker whom he loves. Trouble comes to Vegas when Ace’s boyhood friend, Nicky Santoro, comes to town and desires to be the boss of Las Vegas. The movie is at its best in its narrative-heavy first hour, which describes the inner workings of the casino and the mob. The film’s attention to detail is impressive. After the first hour, you feel as if you’ve been watching a documentary, albeit a good one. The second and third hours are composed of more traditional storytelling, as Ace and Ginger’s marriage disintegrates, so does the mob’s hold on Vegas. Nicky’s violent crimes draw unwanted attention and eventually force Ace from his prime spot in the casino…and it becomes obvious that everything and everyone is doomed (as if you couldn’t tell from the opening scenes). The acting is superb. DeNiro is great as Rothstein, and Stone gives one of her best performances as Ginger. Pesci doesn’t break much new ground as Nicky, but he’s at his best when he’s violently cruel. However Martin Scorsese doesn’t seem to break any new ground. He’s told the crime-corrupts-from-within story before and doesn’t change his old formula.

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