CASINO (1995), an entertaining and immersive tale of grandeur and decadence
While using the exact same codes as those of the Franchisees, CASINO shows us the workings of a brand new mafia universe.
Scorsese’s iconic staging is more or less the same (long immersive shots, camera movements, freeze-frames, rock’n’roll music in counter-time, cynical voice-over, etc.). ), as well as the description of a microcosm in detail. Throughout the film we can observe these little tricks that allow Vegas to exist. They will gradually grow, first showing the various individuals who make it up and their way of managing daily life, then gradually moving towards the overall vision: the functioning of the casino and the mafia, and the policies that flow from it.
But while dealing with the theme of the fallen dream, there is an additional dimension in CASINO, that of the emotional. The story revolves around three characters: Ace, Nicky and Ginger.
Ace, like Henry/Ray Liotta in Les Affranchis, is observant, pragmatic, calculating, distant and self-effacing. A character driven solely by the magnetic charisma of Robert de Niro. Nicky, the violent and uncontrollable “brother”, is a character of instinct and brute force who only truly exists through Joe Pesci. It is thus the actors’ auras that build their roles, more in any case, than their writing. Ace and Nicky are thus the personification of these two facets necessary to bring in the CA$H: brain and muscles. Observing the contrast then the fusion and finally the opposition between these two methods clearly participates in making the film so enjoyable!
Then in the middle is Ginger, The Woman. The one who will provoke the passions and the downfall of everyone – including her.
Just as Jake la Motta was so obsessed with Vickie that he lost himself mentally and cut himself off from his family, Ace’s downfall on all levels is totally linked to his one-sided love affair with Ginger, the broad shepherd he’s trying to turn into a mother; we explain this binary male/female relationship in our reviews of Who’s That Knocking at my door, Alice is no longer here or Bertha Boxcar. Sharon Stone plays Ginger with extraordinary energy. The actress, able to switch completely from one scene to another, plays on absolutely every emotional scene. Charm, joy, sadness, anger, disgust, despair, addiction, crazy love… Her acting, without me really understanding why, reminded me of the final interpretation of Gena Rowlands in Opening Night.
Scorsese, emotionally pessimistic with CASINO , shows us how men’s selfishness can make a woman unhappy, and how she, out of despair, can destroy a family, an empire. He would be in some way desperate to see the evolution of online casino and the multiplication of gambling websites tagged here.
CASINO is an entertaining and immersive tale of grandeur and decadence, adapted from a true story. The second element of the “realistic mythology” created by Scorsese!
The oxymoron “realist mythology” is perhaps what best defines this Casino, along with the Franchisees, Gangs of New York, the Infiltrators, Boardwalk Empire and finally, The Wolf of Wall Street. What these 6 works have in common is that they are immersive and entertaining tales of grandeur and decadence, adapted from true stories. Also, there is always this very distant character who by his gaze plunges us into a very marked universe (Brooklyn mafia, Las Vegas casinos, Gangs of New York at the end of the 19th century, Irish mafia of Boston, mafia of Atlanta in the middle of prohibition, and “Wall Street”).
In the end, one has the impression of watching with CASINO, the 2nd season of a documentary series on the mafia: the change of scenery barely masks the common ambition: to explore and deconstruct a precise theme. It was the family in Les Affranchis, it’s the affective in CASINO. It will be transmission/affiliation, duality, politics and economy in the four following ones!
In fact, more than The Wire, The Sopranos or Breaking Bad, these 6 works by Scorsese are perhaps that, THE ULTIMATE series.