Over at GQ, Natasha Vargas-Cooper has an article professing the superiority of Martin Scorsese’s 1995 masterpiece Casino.
In a word or two: Casino is a perfectly crafted, robust, ensemble tragedy; Goodfellas is a freewheeling, expertly crafted monologue with a lot of colorful neighbors.
Taxi Driver is my favorite of his films, a tone poem with exactly two acts and one character. Raging Bull is a dream of cinema; peerless, unprecedented, Wellesian in scope, agility, poignancy, and beauty. Joe Pesci’s brother to De Niro’s fighter is not always spoken of when Raging Bull is praised, but the character is as richly human as the lead.
If I could show my son only one film for his entire life, it would be Raging Bull. (If I showed him a second, because you ask, it would be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.)
Casino is a film I cannot watch enough. I’m a disciple of literary structure and here is the Taj Mahal of cinema. You can complain (petulantly) that Goodfellas loses some of its fun in the final act, you could (pedantically) argue that much of the early exposition is extraneous. Neither complaint can be leveraged at Casino. Despite the abundance of detail in all aspects of the work – from set design, to costuming, to cast, to the daily operations of the titular business – every detail adds value to the grand narrative and every scene is vibrant, even the terrifically depressing.