Customer Review

74 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorcese and De Niro together again!, April 22, 2004
This review is from: Casino (DVD)
Casino is nothing less than a Scorcese masterpiece, based primarily on the true story of the violent life and death of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, who was the mob's chief enforcer during the early 70's, while protecting the mob's gambling interests run by Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal. As someone interested in the development of the American mafia, Casino is a brilliant translation of the building of Bugsy Siegel's vision in the desert up to the gaudy haven for high rollers that it was during the 70s. This movie brings the dusty pages of Las Vegas history to life. Spilotro was the real thing; Joe Pesci gives us only a taste of how brutal he really was. His death in a mid-west cornfield was the final act of this particular chapter in Las Vegas history. This is perhaps Scorsese's most underrated film, Casino contains one of De Niro's finest performances--his Sam Rothstein is controlled, nuanced, quiet, contemplative, depressed, ambitious, and furious. De Niro plays all these sentiments at once, and he ultimately creates a character that may not be Scorsese's most likable but is certainly his most mesmerizingly believable. The film's rare dual voiceover is so well executed, as Pesci and De Niro's characters fight for control over the storytelling just as they battle for power over Vegas. This film is flamboyantly stylized-In many ways it is about style. There are as many flashy whip-turns and ironic soundtrack selections as there are peach blazers and white pantent leather loafers. If you want a film that is at once great entertainment and moving art, watch Casino, and let Scorsese transport you back to a rare moment in American history: "The last time tough guys like us we're ever given anything that 'effing' valuable."
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 27, 2010 12:43:26 PM PST
a fine review -- your noting the film was "in many ways...about style" is an excellent observation. thank you.

Posted on Aug 26, 2011 9:56:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 26, 2011 10:18:56 AM PDT
One of my pet peeves is the overrepresentation of violence in filmmaking. For example, although I'll be the first to acknowledge Quentin Tarantino's masterful skill as a *craftsman*, I don't think he has a thimbleful of ethics. And I wouldn't call him an artist. His movies are exploitive and sensationalistic. He's the perfect example of an "artist" (and I use the term very loosely) with no understadning of the inseparable nature of ethics and aesthetics. That's why he will never truly be a great artist. He's no even aware of that aspect of art. As someone once said: he not only doesn't know nuthin', he doesn't even *suspect nuthin'. He's completely unaware of that aspect of art.

Scorcese, on the other hand, is Shakespearian in his artistic vision. Violence is undeniably a major theme throughout his work, but in more of a documentarian sense. His characters are real life examples of Greek tragedy. The seeds of their destruction lie within themselves. Scorcese's films are like heroic epics with Justice in the role of hero. His films are archetypal in the way of ancient myths. Tarantino, on the other hand, is exactly what he claims to be: a pulp fiction writer---the P. T. Barnum of violence. His films have no great message, no statement to make, no redeeming social qualities. They are pure sensation, plain and simple.

The difference between Scorcese and Tarantino is the difference between a wise and deep-thinking artist and a hack who has skills of craft to such a degree that he can sell you a cow pie and convince you it's a perfectly-seasoned, perfectly marinated steak, cooked to utter perfection.

Tarantino could sell the stink off manure. To me, that's not enough to rank one as a great artist. Tarantino is a first-rate hustler---I'll grant him that. But Scorsese is truly an artist. Trentino once said (and I paraphrase) that Spike Lee couldn't lick the sweat of his (Tarantino's) "dangling participle" (or words to that effect). Well, to quote a line of dialogue from Star Wars, "There's always a bigger fish," and Tarantino can't like the sweat off Scorsese's pawnbroker's symbol (minus a ball).


(I tried to say that in a way that wouldn't get my message deleted).
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