Sunday, December 28, 2008

Movies: Casino

Well, it's not Goodfellas, but for a movie about Vegas, perhaps it's appropriate that Casino is too big, too bright, and too glammed for its hollow core. Perhaps the otherwise brilliant Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro, whom I like more and more the more I watch him) has to take a dumb gamble on the hard-boiled hustler Ginger McKenna (the hardly compelling Sharon Stone)—every hero has his Achilles' Heel, and blonde broads are an old standby.

And yet. I have an old beef with characters who make mistakes so dreadful that I can't bear to watch. I realize that, in storytelling, no mistake usually means no plot, so what, if not the lucre-loving whore, could bring about Ace's demise? As a Jewish gambling genius installed at the Tangiers by the mafia to generate profits, what, if not the volatile admixture of his ego and that of a head-turner, could push him over the edge? Really, Mr. Pileggi has no choice. So I suppose I forgive him.

And if he and Scorsese couldn't quite make Goodfellas twice, they could take one of the best parts—Joe Pesci as Tommy—and redo it—Joe Pesci as Nicky: just as wild, just as violent, just as riveting. And how my heart does break the first time he makes it with Ginger. Omph. Wow. Brutal.

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