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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Casino, revisited.

This isn’t a review. This is a write-up of my experience of revisiting, after a few years, the 1995 film Casino. Contrary to its title, Casino is not one of those gambling movies. It’s a follow up to Martin Scorsese’s mafia mob drama Goodfellas.

“When you love someone, you gotta trust them. There’s no other way. You gotta give them the key to everything that’s yours. Otherwise, what’s the point? And for a while, I believe that’s the kind of love I had” says Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein as he walks out with a cigar in his mouth and into a car that blows up. What does one make of that? Scorsese’s films rarely begin with the beginning. You’re given a glimpse of (mostly) some part of the middle. Just like how Kubrick began Lolita with its ending. By showing us where the story climaxes, our minds aren’t perched on the fate of the characters but instead on their functioning.

Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert Deniro) heads a Casino in Las Vegas. He might be working under the title of ‘Casino Executive’ in a Casino owned by Philip Green, who exists as the squeaky clean front man under the orders of the elders of a mafia family, but Sam was the boss. The first time the camera pans into his magnificent Casino, you see it brightly lit and adorned with slot machines lined up against each other. Sam explains about the business, “We’re the only winners. The players don’t stand a chance.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shame (2011)


There’s a creature. This creature is part human- part animal. The human goes to work at day, earns lucratively and lives a high-end lifestyle. At the break of dusk, this creature retreats to his den, morphing into an animal with a voracious sexual appetite and engages in a world of sexual activity. Hookers often visit, cybersex is routine and his store is filled with cartons of pornographic magazines.  This creature is Brandon, Michael Fassbender’s character in Shame.

There’s no guarantee that the beast will remain hidden inside. Even at his workplace, it possesses him unexpectedly, forcing him to masturbate in the restroom. It all works out for Brandon, who keeps his sexual feelings discreet because he doesn’t believe he has complete control over this hypersexual animal inside him. Shame suggests that something has happened in the past for him to be threatened by this inner beast.

Everything is fine until his den is invaded by an intruder, the only person Brandon has a human connection with. Brandon throws out his porn filled laptop, the magazines and the sex toys. Hookers are kept out of action.  The food supply to the sexual animal is cut off and you’ll see it is no easy task to keep it pacified.

Young Adult (2011)

It’s a brand new day. A chick flick is playing on TV but the only person in the room is sleeping on her face. She wakes up and her prominent dark circles catch your attention. Mavis is divorced and in her mid thirties. She binges on coke, ice cream and alcohol. Her social life is confined to one night stands. ‘Waverly Prep’ is the name of a young adult series she’s served as an author for. The series is nearing its end and her boss is pounding her with phone calls asking her to get done with the final edition. This unending loop of events is interrupted by an e-mail from her high-school sweetheart, Buddy. Having grown weary of her lifestyle here she decides to pay hometown a visit and get him back, since “they were meant to be together.” Buddy is a married man now, busy raising his new-born daughter.

Doesn’t it sound like a chick flick? Don’t be mistaken. It’s a personality study; one that’s presented in a darkly comic manner.

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