April 30, 2013

Casino (1995) - Review

When: April 30th. Format: DVD 2-disc collectors edition Genre: Gangster-drama

Why don't they make movies like this anymore?

I literary had no idea what I was up for when I borrowed this old DVD from a friend. I just spotted the title in his bookshelf, and with my newfound love for poker I just figured I'd give it a try. Looking a little more closely the names Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro looked right back at me. Just about then I understood that this was no crappy poker-film...

It started at the end of the story. That's always a risky move in my book. Because how are you then going to keep the excitement and mystery up when people know what's coming? From that point on, however, the voice-over began. And surprisingly enough it did not go away either. That's a very risky move! It took some getting used to, but after getting to know the different characters more, and more voices were added to the voice-over, I quickly learned to recognize them. 

Only minutes into the movie I found myself unwillingly lured into this compelling and mysterious world of casinos, mob lords, gangsters, corruption and money. Loads and loads of money. The mood was so authentic and the entire vibe of an 80's Las Vegas that now only exist in memory was so believable I all but forgot I was watching a movie. But the key to it all? The characters. They were all so layered and different and complex and human and... real. Not a single one felt superfluous, unimportant or underdeveloped. And the actors were equally brilliant. It felt like watching a masterclass in acting seeing all of these legends walking about, not acting, but being their character.

Despite being on-screen for almost the entire runtime of the breathtaking 178 minutes, De Niro here proves to be one of the best actors of all time. Playing a guy constantly balancing his life between the brilliant, merciless and stone-cold casino-boss, and the loving, caring and vulnerable husband and father. He's simply believable. And the continued voice-over actually gave an exiting inside-look to the main character's thoughts and intentions, sort of breaking the fourth wall leaving you with the feeling that you watched the movie together with the characters constantly hearing their blabbering and comments. That was what made the movie for me. Movies simply don't do that. Usually.

The swearing. I'm not usually the one to complain about swearing in movies, but this one was actually the long-time record-holder for using the word "fuck" 428 times. That is a lot of swearing, even for me. And a certain scene in a corn-field was so graphic and violent that even I cringed...

Why you should watch it
I could go on for another thousand words trying to explain why I found it as thrilling and captivating as I did, but that would do no good due to the fact that you'd never bother reading it... All I have to say is that this is moviemaking at it's best. Bold, risky, realistic, different and perfect. It's a movie named Casino that is not at all about the games and cards and chips, but about the betting that constantly has to be done in real-life. Marriage, family, work, business, friends... it's all about placing the right bets with the right people at the right time.