Mean Streets (1973)
Critic Consensus: Mean Streets is a powerful tale of urban sin and guilt that marks Scorsese's arrival as an important cinematic voice and features electrifying performances from Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.
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Critic Reviews for Mean Streets
The acting and editing have such an original, tumultuous force that the picture is completely gripping.
Scorsese is exceptionally good at guiding his largely unknown cast to near-flawless recreations of types. Outstanding in this regard is De Niro.
No matter how bleak the milieu, no matter how heartbreaking the narrative, some films are so thoroughly, beautifully realized they have a kind of tonic effect that has no relation to the subject matter.
Its greatness lies in its leanness, with nary a word, a move, a gesture that's nonessential.
Audience Reviews for Mean Streets
Doesn't reveal its quality until the very end, when all that's on the table so far--friendships and family relationships, debts owed, "business" ambitions, a love affair and more--can't help but be cashed out. And what an ending. Unfortunately, though, after this many years, it kind of feels like an underfunded, underachieved Goodfellas. And if you're a De Niro fan, don't go into this thinking he's the star! I only knew a little about the movie before watching, and it took a while (maybe too long) for me to really invest in Harvey Keitel's character, Charlie, whose movie it actually is--I don't blame the filmmaker or Keitel for that though, that's my fault.
A groundbreaking movie that already showcased Scorsese's deep understanding of film language with a unique voice that would inspire other directors like Quentin Tarantino, and it boasts a killer soundtrack and two amazing performances by Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.
Although Mean Streets wasn't Martin Scorsese's directorial debut it can often feel like it was. He'd already done Who's That Knocking at My Door in 1968 and Boxcar Bertha in 1972 but this was the film that not only began his illustrious collaborations with Robert DeNiro but it was his first film to delve into the gangster sub-genre and displayed all the embryonic, stylistic trademarks that he has now become synonymous with. Quite simply, Mean Streets showcased the talents of Scorsese and fully confirmed the arrival of one of the greatest American directors while becoming hugely influential on future films and filmmakers alike. Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is a small time criminal trying to work his way up the local mafia food chain. However, his religious beliefs continually cause him to question his choices in life and as his conscience gets the better of him, so too does his misjudged loyalty to his low-life friends. Some may find the style and fashion of this early 70's classic as dated but Scorsese's flamboyant skills and style are far from it. This was a young, relatively inexperienced director who was way ahead of his time and displayed approaches to filmmaking that are now taken for granted. That said, when you look back at Mean Streets and consider just how early Scorsese delivered this, it still packs a punch and is, without doubt, one of the best and most impressive films from the decade. Following on the heals of Francis Ford Coppola's sweeping crime classic The Godfather in 1972, Scorsese took us to a more personal, working class criminal environment. It feels raw, even claustrophobic, when compared to Coppola's epic proportions. The characters in Scorsese's tale are more real and easier to identify with. They're not throwing elaborately expensive weddings or severing horse's heads to send messages, they're just trying to get by, day to day, and turn a coin from whatever petty criminal activity comes their way. At it's core, it's anchored by two excellent performances: Keitel shoulders the brunt of the film's narrative as Charlie; basically a good guy who has chosen a life of crime that leaves him in a tortured state due to his religious upbringing and near constant state of catholic guilt. He struggles with the choices he makes in life and struggles even more with those of his self-destructive friend, Johnny Boy, played with real electric verve by a young DeNiro. Even though Keitel delivers a solid lead performance, it's DeNiro's recklessness that really stands out. There's not a moment where he doesn't command your attention with his maniacal and random fits of rage and immaturity. As this proved to be the moment that Scorsese came to everyone's attention, it done the same for DeNiro. His improvisation and natural ability does, in front of the camera, what Scorsese was doing behind it. Both of their work seems to mirror and compliment one another and this became the birthing of one of cinema's greatest, long term, partnerships. Mark Walker
Mean Streets Quotes
|Old man:||You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it.|
|Johnny Boy:||I fuck you right where you breath, because I don't give two shits about you or nobody else|
|Johnny Boy:||I fuck you right where you breath, because I don't give two shits about you or nobody else.|
|Giovanni:||Honorable men go with honorable men.|
|Johnny Boy:||I f*ck you right where you breathe.|
|Johnny Boy:||I fuck you right where you breath...|
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