Captivating buildings, huge crowds of people, glamorous sights, breath-taking events, 24-hour entertainment, spinning roulette and a whole lot of money. Do you already have a clue as to what we’re talking about? Casino world. It is a mixture of excitement, hope and luxury, all tangled up to create an amazing atmosphere that can either make you the happiest person on earth or devastate you.
Of course, nowadays, you don’t even have to leave your home to indulge. With a site like Fruityking.co.uk you can play the best mobile slots whenever and from wherever you choose – straight from your phone or other mobile device.
Still, some of us are nonetheless stuck in the past and love attending actually casinos. And if you’re not one of those people, allow these five films that we will be discussing today to reignite your interest.
5. The Cooler (2003)
Director: Wayne Kramer
Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy) is a loser of epic proportions. Just his bad luck alone is enough to turn the luck of anyone who comes near him. Losing is even his profession. Lootz is a cooler at an old school Vegas casino called The Shangri-La. His boss is Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), who is a firm believer in doing things the way of old Vegas.
Much to Shelly’s dismay, Lootz’s luck takes a sudden upturn when he meets his personal lady luck in the form of a beautiful cocktail waitress named Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello). She sees Bernie for what he is: an honest, nice guy. Now Bernie’s got a girl and luck is on his side. When Shelly sends him to “cool” a table, it doesn’t work and the patron continues winning. Naturally, things go left from there.
As a character study of a weary man who has had it with the scuzzy lifestyle of living in Vegas and yearns to get out, only for mounting road blocks to keep getting in his way, The Cooler is low-key and quite perceptive. It’s a small complex movie that packs a big punch.
4. Hard Eight (1996)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
For reasons that will not become clear until much later, an aging gambler (Philip Baker Hall) takes a down-on-his-luck man (John C. Reilly) under his wing and begins to teach him the tricks of the profession in this dark drama set in the world of second-tier casinos and anonymous hotel rooms.
The two form an exclusive, almost paternal partnership, disrupted only by the arrival of a cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and a bullying con man (Samuel Jackson, in a role that may have stumbled upon the very definition of evil). Though on the surface, this is a classic film-noir set-up, Paul Thomas Anderson’s script and deliberately paced direction take a detour into much deeper emotional territory – and the superior performances of all involved respond in turn.
In actuality, this film is little more than a small resonant mood piece whose hard-bitten characters are difficult to like. But within its self-imposed limitations, it accomplishes most of what it sets out to do… and it does so exceptionally well.
3. Casino Royale (2006)
Director: Martin Campbell
The 21st film in the James Bond Series, Casino Royale was the first to star Daniel Crag in the lead role. After earning his double-0 status, Bond is sent on his first mission to investigate the dealings of a banker named Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) who has been using his clients’ money to short-sell stock in successful companies before engineering terrorist attacks to profiteer from the sink in share prices.
After Bond stops an attack in Miami at the unveiling of a new airliner, Le Chiffre is forced to find a way to recoup his losses by setting up a high stakes card tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. With the assistance of treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Bond enters the tournament in an attempt to stop Le Chiffre from winning his money back and in turn closing down his operation altogether.
Casino Royale resurrected the Bond franchise and took it in a more action-packed direction with the brawn of Craig a far cry from the smoothness of Connery, or charm of Brosnan. Instead he became a cold, ruthless killer, and that’s just on the poker table.
2. Croupier (1998)
Director: Mike Hodges
Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) is an aspiring writer going nowhere fast. He soon realizes that his current life as a casino croupier has all the ingredients of a great novel.
Croupier is a wonderfully written portrait of the gambling world from the perspective of someone on the other side of the felt. It’s an insightful analysis of the psychological turmoil of a gambler’s mind. Our main character’s voice provides intermittent background narration to the action on screen and details how he becomes split between the blond headed Jack, the author, and the black haired Jake, the amoral croupier. The two divergent personalities battle for control of Manfred, most markedly in his desire to gamble. Jack refuses to gamble, but Jake finds himself slipping into more serious wagers that involve his personal safety and perhaps even his life.
In one complex narrative, his mind works like an automated abacus as he adds and subtracts variables and calculates his chance of survival. Manfred ultimately concludes the popular opinion of gamblers, that they subconsciously yearn for their own destruction, is incorrect. Instead, he surmises that gamblers wish the obliteration of everyone else in the world and relishes his ideal position as a professional server of self-destruction.
1. Casino (1995)
Director: Martin Scorsese
In much the same way as Goodfellas before it, Casino is another collaboration between crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese, and one that also details the life of a career criminal: Frank Rosenthal (renamed as Sam “Ace” Rothstein in the film). Unlike Scorsese’s earlier gangster film though, Casino was a much more glamorous and indulgent affair, detailing the life of Rosenthal (Robert De Niro) as he rose up to a position of prominence as the manager of a mob-run Las Vegas casino.
Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) was Ace’s extremely violent sidekick on their way up in the shadow of the criminal world, and Ace isn’t exactly thrilled when Nicky also relocates to Vegas. Ace meets and marries professional hustler Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), a gorgeous but money-hungry gold digger with an unhealthy attachment to small time hustler Lester Diamond (James Woods). Eventually Ace’s life begins to unravel: he insults the wrong local power brokers and runs afoul of Vegas’ licensing requirements; Nicky’s violent methods reflect badly on Ace’s business; and Ginger looks to rob him blind and make off with their daughter.
Visually, Casino is quite stunning and manages to really capture the excitement and glitz of gambling in a casino. So long as Casino stays focused on the excesses – of language, of violence, of ambition – in the life-styles of the rich and infamous, it remains a truly smart and knowing spectacle. And the ultimate cautionary tale.
Let us know your favorite cinematic casino story in the comment section below.