Casino

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(1995) ★★★★★

Channel 5: Friday 8 May, 1.10am

Martin Scorsese’s Las Vegas epic is by no means the only Modern Classic in Sky’s two-week long Gangsters Season: Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy, Brian De Palma’s double-whammy of Scarface and The Untouchables, and Scorsese’s own GoodFellas would figure as prime suspects in any Mob rule of excellence. But Casino is perhaps the least obvious and most surprising of the titles on offer. Because all bets were off when the critics got hold of it. Most of them never forgave it for not being GoodFellas 2. From its big-bang beginning and glitzy Saul Bass title designs backed by Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Casino is carefully calibrated to seduce and destroy. The American Dream, curdled beyond redemption in Sin City. And, in breathtaking style, Scorsese re-set his moral compass. Because this study of the love of money is utterly unsparing and fundamentally truthful. The story is narrated in tersely funny fashion for two hours, then turns ever darker in its third. Kansas City mobsters put bookie Robert De Niro in charge of a Las Vegas casino in the 1970s. Everyone gets rich, everyone’s happy. Until De Niro’s psycho minder Joe Pesci starts treating Nevada like the Wild West and De Niro marries materialistic junkie Sharon Stone. It was the last time wiseguys from the streets were given something valuable to run. The Mob scam was being skimmed and the FBI was trying to lip-read through binoculars. “They found a guy’s head in the desert,” says loyal henchman Frank Vincent. “Everyone’s talking about it. They’re making a big deal out of it.” Money makes this world go round and the sheer logistics involved in maintaining the corruption make Casino a creepily compelling film. Appalling and amusing by turn, it unfolds like an X-rated wildlife documentary and makes no bones of the insanity on show in a neon-lit snake pit. It looks fabulous, too, and the casting is inspired – everyone looks the part, from De Niro’s pinched control freak down to the lowliest BadFella shifting his bulk from a limousine. Even Scorsese’s mother, Catherine, has a cameo, expressing dismay at the rough language in a corner grocery store. Joe Pesci, though, he’s something else. At his scariest when he looks at the camera.

Certificate: 18
Duration: 179min

Other Showings Date & Time
5USA Friday, 8 May at 1:00 AM
Sky Arts 1 Friday, 8 May at 8:30 AM
Channel 5 Saturday, 9 May at 12:15 AM
5USA Saturday, 9 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Sunday, 10 May at 12:55 AM
5USA Sunday, 10 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Monday, 11 May at 1:35 AM
Channel 5 Tuesday, 12 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Wednesday, 13 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Thursday, 14 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Friday, 15 May at 12:00 AM
5USA Friday, 15 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Saturday, 16 May at 12:00 AM
5USA Saturday, 16 May at 1:00 AM
Channel 5 Sunday, 17 May at 12:00 AM
5USA Sunday, 17 May at 1:00 AM
5USA Friday, 22 May at 1:00 AM
5USA Saturday, 23 May at 1:00 AM