Friday, February 4, 2011

'Casino' (released Nov. 22, 2005)

Standard-Examiner staff

A ponderous, meandering beast of a crime epic, Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” takes many greatish elements and reduces them to tedious mediocrities.

Scorsese is a filmmaker with an affinity for stories about mobsters and their peculiar manner of doing business -- he directed “Mean Streets” and “GoodFellas,” the latter of which is one of the finest films released since 1990. So he seems a natural for this tale of a mob-run Las Vegas casino in the ‘70s, before corporate America took the gaming racket away from organized crime.

Alas, Scorsese’s affinity for the minutiae of the gambling industry hobbles “Casino,” diverting attention from the characters and the story at hand: how gambler Sam “Ace” Rothstein and his childhood friend, Nicky Santoro, managed to screw up a gig that not only managed itself, but was also making them fabulously wealthy.

'A Low Down Dirty Shame' (released Nov. 23, 1994)

By DONALD PORTERStandard-Examiner staff

Sometimes filmmakers get it so right, even when they get it wrong.

That’s the case with “A Low Down Dirty Shame,” the new “Shaft” spoof by writer-director Keenen Ivory Wayans (“I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”). It’s a low-down dirty shame that such a talented man -- he created the irreverent Fox TV sketch-comedy series “In Living Color,” too -- has made such an awful mess.

“A Low Down Dirty Shame” is truth in advertising: Sexist, homophobic and derivative of so many better action films, “Low Down” is disappointing at the outset and goes downhill from there.

Wayans takes the structure of a conventional detective movie, then dresses it up in fancy, allegedly hip clothing. It doesn’t work.

Wayans stars as Andre Shame, a former cop who was tossed off the force in the wake of a botched drug bust. Now Shame works the streets of L.A. as a lowly private eye -- poor but honorable, at least in his own eyes.