Casino (Movie Review)
In a town that’s famous for its flashing lights and buzzing crowds, Casino focuses on the shadowy underworld of Vegas and how huge gambling corporations gained control of a once-mob-ruled city. Unlike other movies set in Sin City, Scorsese’s thriller digs deep into the roots of Las Vegas, laying bare the intricate web of corruption that ran through the city with tendrils reaching to politicians, Teamsters unions and even an old-school mafia based out of Kansas City.
Casino stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in top form, but it’s Sharon Stone who steals the show. Building on her breakthrough performance in Basic Instinct, the actress plays a blonde hustler who can keep men at her feet (“smart hustlers like Ginger could probably keep a man awake for two or three days”) while displaying no ability to rein herself in. She’s a relentless motion machine who holds and sometimes leads the camera’s gaze, spiked by moments of high energy that are both exhilarating and nerve-wracking to watch.
One of the more interesting aspects of Casino is how it reveals how casinos manipulate their customers. For example, they rarely have clocks in their establishments because they want players to lose track of time. This creates an environment where they’re more likely to gamble longer and deeper than if they’re constantly checking the time. They also give “good” players comps such as free hotel rooms and meals. The more money a player spends, the higher their status and the better rewards they receive.