|Category||Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.66:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1995||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||170:56||Other Extras||Production Notes
Cast And Crew Biographies
|Starring||Robert De Niro
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Anyway, for those who aren't scared of a film that isn't a thrill-per-minute affair, here's a brief shakedown of the plot. The film begins in the year 1980, when casino manager Sam Rothstein (Robert De Niro) gets into his car and is blown up. Or is he? From there, we go into those credits which Jane Austen's Mafia! sent up so well (let's face it, this credit sequence was just begging for it). We then rewind back to the year 1970, and voiceovers by Sam describing how great a bookmaker and gambler he is, and how that led to him being given paradise on Earth - the leadership of the Tangier's hotel. He then proceeds to describe the great truth about Las Vegas operations, and Martin Scorsese gives us a view of the dirty politics in Las Vegas and how easily they allowed the Mafia to control the city in an under-the-table sort of manner. Once he is done explaining the dirty workings of the system, we are treated to a bizarre and memorable demonstration of how casinos dealt with cheats in those days - with cattle prods and hammers. Unfortunately, once the pace is picked up by this memorable exchange, the film goes back to a dull plod for a while. This is common throughout the whole film - the film will move along at the pace of a particularly relaxed sloth, and then an exciting moment will come out and lift the pace for about ten minutes. It's hard to get used to, and even harder to put up with on the first viewing.
In spite of its shortcomings, the film is rewarding if one waits patiently for the dividends. It doesn't quite justify its R rating, but I still wouldn't really recommend allowing your kids to see it unless they're at least old enough to get into MA films without your supervision. Some of the dissections of Las Vegas politics which Scorsese presents are quite amusing to look at and hear, especially with the unique view Scorsese has injected into these films ever since his work on Goodfellas - the Mafia is not a bunch of cowboys flaunting society at any and all opportunity, but a business. Just as Francis Ford Coppola enhanced the Godfather series by taking the rather unusual in Hollywood tack of making it a story about a family, Scorsese's thoroughly scientific view of organized crime has lifted Casino far above most other films in the same category simply with its believability.
Film artefacts are minimal, with the only noticeable film artefacts being the aforementioned overlighting problems. These problems, however can pretty much be blamed squarely on the director or the cinematographer, although these are magnified by the lack of enhancement. Most of the brightly-lit sequences, especially the aforementioned scene with the professional cheats, are so brightly lit that small, and thankfully mostly unimportant, amounts of detail are lost. Conversely, shadow detail ranges from crystal clear to slightly smudged. Details in dark scenes are well-rendered enough to ensure that they are easily understood. Again, this appears to be because the lighting controls were adjusted in such a way as to make everything seem twenty percent brighter than how it came out on the negative. Moiré effects were abundant in the surprisingly rare scenes involving monitors and televisions, but that lends a certain authenticity, given that this film's events are supposed to be occurring in the days when televisions often showed moiré effects without the assistance of a video camera.
The disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 87:29, which is when Rothstein's comment about his position in the Tangier's Hotel management is shown in a headline. This scene and layer change comes between the interview in which the ill-timed commentary is made by Rothstein and the moment a bitter County Commissioner formulates a plan to hang him with it. While the layer change is rather noticeable, especially if you have seen the film before, it is not disruptive to the film. It certainly beats the hell out of having to get up and turn the disc over. (I have a confession to make: I realized recently that I definitely am a complete DVD addict. When asked what the best Martin Scorsese film was, I really did answer by stating Casino was because of its RSDL formatting.)
Getting back to the audio for a while (you can tell I am really not fond of flippers, can't you?), the music is also a great job. Consisting of (mostly) vibrant and powerful tunes from the sixties and seventies, it is an interesting journey back into the time when even pop music required some musical skill to play. The inclusion of such weirdo-disco hits as Devo's Whip It make for a very esoteric sort of soundtrack as mob-based dramas go. All in all, this disc is a great piece of work in the audio department. Joe Pesci's description of the casino operation's frontman ("He was the perfect frontman, I mean... what else could he be? He didn't know too much, he didn't wanna know too much..."), as played by Kevin Pollak is almost worth a third of the asking price by itself.
The surround channels were mostly used to support the music and sound effects, most notably the sounds of rolling dice. Overall, the soundtrack is mainly focused on the front channels, although no channel is left idle for too long. The subwoofer was given plenty to do by the incessant sounds of gunshots, music, and other explosive sounds. While this film doesn't exploit the 5.1 channels to their full effect, you certain have to give it credit for justifying the encoding. In most of the overdubbed languages, the original dialogue is still vaguely audible, which is either annoying or pleasant depending on how you look at it.
The video quality is wonderful, and this is an excellent film to show off your DVD player with.
The audio quality is mostly wonderful. A few slips here and there, but these are the result of the filmmaking itself.
The extras aren't exactly threadbare, but they're nothing to rave about, either.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D and Toshiba SD-2109|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF, 4:3 mode, using composite input and S-video input|
|Audio Decoder||Built In|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|