The explosive beginning of Saul Bass's customarily brilliant opening credits sequence seems to bode well for Martin Scorsese's epic portrait of 1970s Las Vegas, Casino (1995). Weaving a tale about the town, as well as ill-fated mobsters "Ace" Rothstein (based on actual Vegas-ite Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal) and Nicky Santoro, the first hour merges documentary-style detail (including copious narration) with Scorsese's signature technical flair to depict how the Mob skimmed millions from the casinos. As Rothstein's success unravels, Scorsese unstintingly reveals the viciousness of the old school Vegas powerbrokers (including more gruesome violence than any previous Scorsese work), yet the virtuoso final montage and unsettling coda suggest that the new Disney-fied Vegas robbed the city of its success-fantasy soul. Notwithstanding the bravura visuals and attention to 1970s period detail, and despite a career-best performance from Sharon Stone as Rothstein's hustler-drug addict wife, most reviews noted that the reunion of director Scorsese with writer Nicholas Pileggi and stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci paled in comparison to 1990's Goodfellas. The De Niro-Pesci opposition was too familiar, as was the overlong story of Rothstein's rise and fall. Stone scored the film's sole Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe for Best Actress.
by Lucia Bozzola review