Sunday, June 28, 2015

#561: Casino

1995, TSPDT Rank #536

After the huge success of his epic gangster biopic Goodfellas in 1990, Martin Scorsese made Cape Fear, a highly experimental and Hitchcock-influenced remake of the 1962 film noir classic, and The Age of Innocence, a period piece featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder. However, as the 1990s wore on, Scorsese decided to return to the crime genre, coming up with a film which appears to be an attempt at a bigger and better version of Goodfellas. This broadly-drawn tale of Italian gangsters moving to Las Vegas and making it big is fittingly excessive for a portrait of excess, but ends feeling more like overblown self-parody than anything else. Everything that Scorsese did in Goodfellas is taken to operatic extremes in this film - including ridiculously profane dialogue, constant voiceover narration, gratuitous violence, and a soundtrack crammed so full with Scorsese's 50s and '60s rock, pop, and blues favorites that at times it feels more like watching a three-hour music video rather than a narrative film. For some reason, Scorsese saw fit to include almost an entire album's worth of Rolling Stones songs in this film (rather than just a few like he did in Goodfellas). Not that there's anything wrong with the Stones, or that the film is any less enjoyable for it (at least on the surface), but the overall indiscriminate excess of this film means that nothing really sticks out or makes much of an impact in the final analysis. It mostly just feels like an overblown mess - albeit an entertaining one. See Scorsese's recent film The Wolf of Wall Street, for another similar (and possibly more successful) exercise in this genre/style. Personally, I'm looking forward to The Age of Innocence.

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