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Back Home Years Ago2003

The Real Casino

  • 3.0
BACK HOME YEARS AGO is about the real Chicago gangsters who migrated to Las Vegas and formed the basis for Martin Scorsese's epic, CASINO. The focus is on real life counterparts to the Nicholas Pileggi book "Casino," and subsequent film. BACK HOME YEARS AGO gives you insights to the film's main characters such as Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (the Robert DeNiro character), Tony Spilotro (the Joe Pesci character), Alan Dorfman (the Alan King character) and several of their pals and relatives who were privy to the way Chicago's "Outfit" operated and gained favor in Las Vegas. Unlike many typical "mob" documentaries this is far more than a simple by the numbers account of real events such as the standard, "then he was 'whacked' outside the club." Instead, the film opts to portray a more first person impressionistic view into the lifestyle and rip away the sheer veneer of the typical mob film. The film further delves into the stereotypes of the cinematic "mafia" world and makes a compelling contrast between reality and the Hollywood version.

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1 member likes this review

This film, no matter where it shows up, always seems to draw some haters, despite it's overall success. So, here's some love from one insightful critic:

I didn't much care for Martin Scorsese's CASINO when I first saw it. It felt too similar to GOODFELLAS, but didn't posses the cinematic energy that made make GOODFELLAS so amazing. Both movies originated from factual material and were directed by Scorsese, but GOOFELLAS felt more alive. Perhaps that's because GOODFELLAS is a more romanticized view of the mob world than CASINO, I don't really know, but I just couldn't connect with CASINO. Forgive me Mr. Scorsese.

Joseph Alexandre's BACK HOME YEARS AGO: THE REAL CASINO lends a touch of tangability to CASINO that wasn't present for me the first time around. Not having read Nicholas Pileggi's book, CASINO, BACK HOME YEARS AGO puts the actual names and faces on the original participants. Getting to know what the reality behind the story is more frightening than either of Scorsese's movies.

For those unfamiliar with CASINO, the movie details the Chicago mafia's hand in the development of Las Vegas, long before it became the world's largest corporate playground. The movie details the rise and fall of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, portrayed by Robert DeNiro, an outsider whom the mob saw as someone who could help them cash on Vegas. The names and players in Scorsese's movie were all changed, but Alexandre sheds light on who the contributing players actually were.

BACK HOME YEARS AGO unfolds from Alexandre's point of view as he wanders Chicago interviewing relatives and listening to first hand accounts. Alexandre's first person perspective lends a Michael Moore feel without the hamperings of Michael Moore's self-indulgence, and in the end Alexandre's discoveries become our own.

Some of the interviews sound a bit inflated on part of the participants. Perhaps they are trying to make themselves sound more in-the-know then they actually were. Perhaps that's just the natural Chicago demeanor. I don't know, I'm not from Chicago.

To drive home the correlations between fact and fiction, Alenandre was able to get the rights to footage from not only CASINO, but from other high profile crime movies including GOODFELLAS and Michael Mann's THIEF. Often, the stories being told don't exactly match their portrayl and it's interesting to note just how much was embellished or changed for the big screen.

I'm not sure whether you can still purchase BACK HOME YEARS AGO from B-Movie.com or not. Recently it was licensed for inclusion on a 3-disc deluxe edition of CASINO due out the second half of 2003. It doesn't necessarily give you all the facts found in Pileggi's book, but it does paint an interesting Cliff's Notes version of what the players were like. If you plan to purchase the disc set, I'm sure BACK HOME YEARS AGO will drive home the material for you the same way it did me.

B-Movie.com

http://www.b-independent.com/reviews/therealcasino.htm

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Member Reviews (4)

98917.small
filmmaker

This film, no matter where it shows up, always seems to draw some haters, despite it's overall success. So, here's some love from one insightful critic:

I didn't much care for Martin Scorsese's CASINO when I first saw it. It felt too similar to GOODFELLAS, but didn't posses the cinematic energy that made make GOODFELLAS so amazing. Both movies originated from factual material and were directed by Scorsese, but GOOFELLAS felt more alive. Perhaps that's because GOODFELLAS is a more romanticized view of the mob world than CASINO, I don't really know, but I just couldn't connect with CASINO. Forgive me Mr. Scorsese.

Joseph Alexandre's BACK HOME YEARS AGO: THE REAL CASINO lends a touch of tangability to CASINO that wasn't present for me the first time around. Not having read Nicholas Pileggi's book, CASINO, BACK HOME YEARS AGO puts the actual names and faces on the original participants. Getting to know what the reality behind the story is more frightening than either of Scorsese's movies.

For those unfamiliar with CASINO, the movie details the Chicago mafia's hand in the development of Las Vegas, long before it became the world's largest corporate playground. The movie details the rise and fall of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, portrayed by Robert DeNiro, an outsider whom the mob saw as someone who could help them cash on Vegas. The names and players in Scorsese's movie were all changed, but Alexandre sheds light on who the contributing players actually were.

BACK HOME YEARS AGO unfolds from Alexandre's point of view as he wanders Chicago interviewing relatives and listening to first hand accounts. Alexandre's first person perspective lends a Michael Moore feel without the hamperings of Michael Moore's self-indulgence, and in the end Alexandre's discoveries become our own.

Some of the interviews sound a bit inflated on part of the participants. Perhaps they are trying to make themselves sound more in-the-know then they actually were. Perhaps that's just the natural Chicago demeanor. I don't know, I'm not from Chicago.

To drive home the correlations between fact and fiction, Alenandre was able to get the rights to footage from not only CASINO, but from other high profile crime movies including GOODFELLAS and Michael Mann's THIEF. Often, the stories being told don't exactly match their portrayl and it's interesting to note just how much was embellished or changed for the big screen.

I'm not sure whether you can still purchase BACK HOME YEARS AGO from B-Movie.com or not. Recently it was licensed for inclusion on a 3-disc deluxe edition of CASINO due out the second half of 2003. It doesn't necessarily give you all the facts found in Pileggi's book, but it does paint an interesting Cliff's Notes version of what the players were like. If you plan to purchase the disc set, I'm sure BACK HOME YEARS AGO will drive home the material for you the same way it did me.

B-Movie.com

http://www.b-independent.com/reviews/therealcasino.htm

1 member likes this review

I;s like to see the film they were making

I found TIS DOCUMENTRY A WAST of time. The film never get to any real substance leaving you to wish they could have actually did the work. You have people I yje movie claiming if they talked a hit will be on the way. You have family complaining that there sid of the story, or the family is never heard. this become extremely frustrating when the family member don't tell the point of view ssentually doing what they fist complained. this doc could be rapped up I less than 10 minutes and you still not really get a real acesses to the subject matter,

I was interested in seeing this because I know a relative of someone depicted in Casino. But the last 15 minutes is just the crew talking about their impressions of interviewing real-life connected people. They all say pretty much the same thing, so the film ends on a really boring note. I would have preferred a shorter film with just the insiders involved. Since the people involved can't actually say much to protect themselves, the filmmakers could have fleshed it out with actual facts and news stories. They didn't even talk about what actually happened.