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Casino

Year: 1995
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Don Rickles
I saw this film before Goodfellas, and I can see why some people would imagine it to be almost a remake. Pesci in particular plays essentially the same role - a pint-sized psycho scarier than any seven foot tall guy in a back alley.

As such, I thought it was the best mobster movie I'd ever seen. De Niro is gloriously overstyled as Sam Rothstein, a wiseguy with a talent for making winning bets. Moving to Vegas with his best buddy Nicky (Pesci) and wife Ginger (Stone) to make it big in the casino trade, he only wants to run the Tangiers Club straight, make money and not tread on the toes of the cowboy politicians who run the gaming overseers and growing old with his wife peacefully.

But it all comes undone. Nicky is an old school mafia thug, and can't back out of a fight, dispatching everyone from business and political enemies to a guy in a bar who looks at him wrong with either cold efficiency or a terrifying fit of temper with a pen. And Ginger is a drug addict with shady ex boyfriend Lester (Woods) hanging around trying to take Sam for every cent he can get.

The use of almost as much narration by Sam and Nicky as there is plain dialogue is a masterstroke of storytelling, letting Scorsese dispense with a lot of inefficient exposition by having one of the characters simply tell you about it.

Another high point for the Scorsese/De Niro duo, ably supported by terrific support acting, fantastic design and costuming and a sense of glitzy yet menacing style in brilliantly capturing the gaudy heydy of mob-controlled Las Vegas.

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