sâmbătă, 8 aprilie 2017

Casino written by Nicholas Pileggi and directed by Martin Scorsese

Casino written by Nicholas Pileggi and directed by Martin Scorsese

A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

Casino is a very popular film.
Nevertheless, popularity and critical success are two different things.

Critics did not like this movie as much as the rest of the already consecrated chef d’oeuvres and multiple award winners directed by Martin Scorsese:

-          Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver

But the story is very good, if familiar.
The cast is stellar:

-          Robert de Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci

If we add the Demiurge Scorsese, there is nothing more to add to this recipe that guarantees success and art.
Yet, grumbles were heard:

-          “Expectations could kill Casino faster than any potshots from critics. Martin Scorsese is the man, the most viscerally exciting director of his generation, with such classics as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas to prove it. There's the rub. A pedestal makes a precarious perch. Any hint of dissatisfaction from the fickle crowd and down you go. Even before Casino opened, the black cloud of letdown hung over Scorsese's epic tale of mob infiltration of Las Vegas during the 1970s. Casino, said the buzz, is too long (nearly three hours), too brutal (a thug with his head in a vise is squeezed until his eye rockets its socket) and too familiar (Scorsese again directing Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci as hoods. Enough).”

That is what Rolling Stone had to say.
I for one liked it.

Robert de Niro plays Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a wizard and a man who knows very well what horse is going to win.
He is very popular with mobsters who can win big time at the races and betting on the successful teams.

It is work rather than intuition or magic and in this sense and Ace is just doing his homework, collecting all the data.
It is a rather well known story, with the one who has all the information being able to place the right bets.

In a way, Ace is a role model: a hardworking, successful, talented, rich manager who has seen the American Dream come true…
Only positive psychology has proved that the “dream „that involves material success, money, fame and status is not as happy as it appeared to be, because external, extrinsic goals do not bring wellbeing.

And indeed, if Ace marries Ginger, portrayed by Sharon Stone and that looks like a guarantee of Flow, in reality, after the “honeymoon effect” is over, things fall apart.
They engage in a destructive battle and the triangle of conflict that has Joe Pesci in the role of Nicky Santoro as the third element in this explosive mix ends up in the sight of federal agents and they all suffer.

There is the well-known excess when we watch movies with and about mobsters, with torture, violence and betrayal.
Ace and Nicky are supposed to work together as part of a “mob team „detached to Sin City to make money for the Goodfellas.

But Nicky is exceeding his role and becomes involved with all sorts of individuals and attracts attention on the casino.
He gambles and loses, then asks for loans and becomes violent, rude and a menace to those around him.
Ace and Nicky have various disputes and a beautifully filmed face off in the middle of the desert where the latter threatens the former.

People are taken in the middle of nowhere, made to dig graves and then clubbed to death in horrendous manner.
The fight between Ace and Ginger becomes an opportunity for Nicky to take his revenge, according to the principle

-          The enemies of my enemy are my friends

But personages and people act irrationally- sometimes Predictably Irrational as the book says- and they are very volatile and unpredictable

-          Look no further than The Donald and his torrent of stupid tweets 

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