film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mean Streets 1973 * * * 1/2 Stars

The above image is of a movie poster for Mean Streets 
Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 1973
Rating: R
Rating: * * * 1/2 stars
Cast: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Amy Robinson 

Mean Streets is Martin Scorsese's first real foray into his bravado directorial style for years to come. This film is a very personal, very insightful look at what he might of went through as a young man growing up in New York City's seedy district of Little Italy. There's a moderate mob element to the proceedings and an intense character study of Harvey Keitel's character Charlie, a man who has to choose between looking out for his troubled friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro who's performance is the brilliant equivalent of a charging rhino) and moving up the chain of small time New York Mafia. Mean Streets is raw, somewhat improvised, and carries the feeling that the world's greatest living director saw the future of cinema years ahead of everybody else. The ending (which I could never reveal) is gut wrenching in ways that I can't describe.  

One of the best aspects you could pull from this pioneering indie (it sure feels like independent filmmaking) is that all the characters make an impression on you. They stay with you long after the credits roll. Added to that, everything Scorsese made after Mean Streets goes back to Mean Streets. It's the blueprint for pretty much his whole body of work. During the first half of the film, Keitel utters the line, "twenty dollars, let's go to da movies!" Yeah, if you go to the movies, make it Mean Streets. It's a keeper. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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