091 - Casino (1995)

Casino tells the story of one man's attempt to make it as a casino boss in the - literally - cut-throat city of Las Vegas.

Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) move to Las Vegas in order to find their dream. While Sam finds success as the general manager of one of the biggest casinos in Vegas, Nicky is hired as Sam's personal bodyguard.

When Sam falls in love with a hustler (Sharon Stone) and promises her the world, Nicky starts to go off the rails taking advantage of his position to "win" big in Sam's casino. Sam throws him out, and Nicky becomes leader of a violent gang who rob and rough up the locals.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Casino's success is thoroughly built on its ability to play on the fact it is based on a true story. The story is narrated from the perspective of Sam and Nicky who tell about each other's lives, giving the film a very personal feel while all the time showing a reality that is far from the comfort of the big screen.

At three hours long Martin Scorsese's film is a bit of a marathon; the first hour is spent with De Niro and Pesci narrating their back stories before the film really gets going. This method of direction enables far more character depth than in any similar film with a shorter length. Of course, because it is a Scorsese film it is hugely complex and makes for difficult viewing in some places because much of the story is open to interpretation but, where After Hours moved too far into the surreal, Casino hits it spot on.

It is difficult to imagine who else could have played all of the protagonists as De Niro, Pesci and Stone are all physically and mentally ideal for their roles. Joe Pesci as the little tough guy is scarily amusing as he takes on men twice his size despite never looking inferior. De Niro, as Ace, is formidable as the casino owner while Stone has both the looks and attitude to pull off playing the greedy hustler.

A film that you ought to see but make sure you have three hours ready to appreciate such fantastic direction.