Five Of The Best Casino Based Movies - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Five Of The Best Casino Based Movies

If you've ever enjoyed a night out at a casino then you may have gotten a kick out of seeing the excitement, the fun and the tension recreated in the movies. It's hardly a surprise as the location makes a perfect setting for high stakes drama, with many respected filmmakers including Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh using the casino setting to their advantage to craft films full of the same tension and excitement we often associate with trustly casino and gambling.

There are dozens of different casino based movies, and many others that, whilst not set entirely within the walls of the glamorous gambling dens one might find on the Las Vegas strip, feature dramatic scenes set around the poker, roulette or baccarat table. With so much choice available it might be difficult to choose which casino based film to watch, so we've rounded up five of the best films from this genre; movies featuring some fantastic Hollywood actors and actresses, wonderful cinematography, and high stakes plot driven action whilst also recreating the casino feeling from the comfort of your own living room.

1. Casino
In Casino, director Martin Scorsese chronicles Sin City’s evolution from seedy to sanitised over the span of several years. Robert De Niro plays Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, a gangster running a mobbed-up casino who’s trying to do things “the right way”. Undercut by his hotheaded pal Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and an ambitious woman (Sharon Stone) he shouldn’t trust, Ace feels the weight of obligations bearing down on him and we're right there in the drama with him throughout.

Casino is the perfect film to watch if you want to understand the inner workings of Vegas gambling, and although 25 years old now it's certainly stood the test of time and still feels as tense and exciting as it did upon release in 1995. It's enduring popularity among fans of casino based films has led to some NZD casinos featuring slots themed around the details of this movie.

2. Croupier
Although he'd been acting professionally for a decade, it was his role as Jack Manfred in 1998s Croupier that properly launched Clive Owen's career, and what a role it was. An aspiring novelist desperate for money, with a blasé seen-it-all attitude, Jack becomes a croupier and is immersed in the world of casino gambling, soon learning the ins and out of the business and witness to the sweaty anxiety and crippling sadness of those who have thrown their lives (and money) away at the tables.

Mike Hodge's feature is not the most glamorous of films, but Croupier’s vivid recreation of dingy casino life is utterly intoxicating, not just to us the viewer but to Jack himself who finds a source of inspiration for that novel he'd been trying to write, basing it upon his experiences in the Golden Lion Casino. Also starring Gina McKee and Alex Kingston, Croupier is one of most popular films of the noir casino genre and comes highly recommended.

3. Guns, Girls and Gambling
With a cast including Christian Slater, Dane Cook, Powers Booth, Helena Mattson and Gary Oldman, 2011s Guns. Girls and Gambling has a very interesting premise. Down on his luck John Smith (Christian Slater) heads to an Indian Reservation casino after being dumped by his girlfriend. There he has his wallet stolen, enters an Elvis Impersonation contest and loses, and eventually finds himself staying after-hours playing poker with four other Elvis impersonators: The Winner Elvis (Gary Oldman), Gay Elvis (Chris Kattan), Little Person Elvis (Tony Cox), and Asian Elvis (Anthony Brandon Wong). The cards are not in Smith's favour and he loses hand after hand before finally dozing off. He's eventually awoken by the casino security guards who accuse him of stealing a priceless ancient Native American mask. The hunt is now on for its return.

Director Michael Winnick crafts an interesting, if lighthearted, thriller - but then with a gang of bizarre Elvis impersonators this was never going to be a straight faced affair. Guns, Girls and Gambling benefits from an impressive ensemble cast and hints of both Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez in its visuals and editing, albeit in a very knowing, tongue-in-cheek way. Its plot may be straight out of a B-movie, but its poker scenes are A-star.

4. Ocean's Eleven
In late 2001, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and a host of other Hollywood stars partnered to form the cast of Ocean's Eleven, the first in what would soon grow to be a beloved franchise, spawning two sequels and an all-female spin-off. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, this first installment may just be the ultimate heist movie as the highly skilled team head to Las Vegas with a plan to rob the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand casinos simultaneously.

Ocean's Eleven is, of course, an updated remake of the 1960 Rat Pack movie of the same name starring Frank Sinitra as Danny Ocean, the role Clooney takes here. This version manages to capture the Hollywood glam in a similar way to the original version (something only a criminal heist movie can perhaps do) whilst also portraying three dimensional characters, which the original failed at, being little more than an exercise in celebrity cool. It also looks amazing, thanks in no small part to Soderbergh's stylish direction. It's also a surprisingly good watch for all the family, with an ambitious plot and set-pieces replacing much of the violence seen in many of the other movies on this list.

5. Casino Royale
Finally produced as an official Bond film in 2006 (nearly 40 years after a spoof farcical unofficial version), Daniel Craig's debut outing as 007 features one of the greatest gambling scenes on film. Set at the Casino Royale in Montenegro, the Albanian private banker Le Chiffre attempts to reacquire money he has lost that belonged to one of his clients by organising a high-stakes Texas hold 'em tournament. MI6 enters Bond, believing a defeat will force Le Chiffre to seek asylum with the British government, which they will grant in exchange for information on his clients. At the start of the game, Bond gains the upper hand by deducing Le Chiffre's tell, but Bond soon loses his initial stake due to Le Chiffre being tipped-off. Felix Leiter, a fellow player and CIA agent, agrees to stake Bond to continue playing, and 007 rapidly rebuilds his position until his martini (shaken not stirred) is poisoned!

After a major break in the game, adding to the escalating tension, Bond returns as Leiter is eliminated, continuing the tournament until it culminates in a $115 million hand in which the remaining players, including Bond and Le Chiffre, go all in. Le Chiffre trumps the other players with a full house (aces full of sixes) which are famously hard to beat, though Bond’s straight flush (4 to 8 of spades) is exactly what he needed to take the jackpot.

The whole sequence is as thrilling as any stunt and as suspenseful as any car chase the Bond series of films have given us. It perfectly recreates the atmosphere of the casino, with all the tension and the excitement you'd expect without having to leave your living room.

Like the previous four films on this list, Casino Royale is perfect viewing for anyone who enjoys casinos, gambling and high-stakes action.

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