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Mean Streets (Special Edition) [Import]
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After Martin Scorsese went to Hollywood in 1972 to direct the low-budget Boxcar Bertha for B-movie mogul Roger Corman, the young director showed the film to maverick director John Cassavetes and got an instant earful of urgent advice. "It's crap," said Cassavetes in no uncertain terms, "now go out and make something that comes from your heart." Scorsese took the advice and focused his energy on Mean Streets, a riveting contemporary film about low-life gangsters in New York's Little Italy that critic Pauline Kael would later call "a true original, and a triumph of personal filmmaking." Starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in roles that announced their talent to the world, it set the stage for Scorsese's emergence as one of the greatest American filmmakers. Introducing themes and character types that Scorsese would return to in Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Casino, and other films, the loosely structured story is drawn directly from Scorsese's background in the Italian neighborhoods of New York, and it seethes with the raw vitality of a filmmaker who has found his creative groove. As the irresponsible and reckless Johnny Boy, De Niro offers striking contrast to Keitel's Charlie, who struggles to reconcile gang life with Catholic guilt. More of an episodic portrait than a plot-driven crime story, Mean Streets remains one of Scorsese's most direct and fascinating films--a masterful calling card for a director whose greatness was clearly apparent from that point forward. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The music is great. Perfectly fits the time period and setting, I dunno how much they had to pay in royalties for the songs in this film, but I love em'.
The camera work is fantastic. There's a scene where the camera gives you charlie's viewpoint, stumbling, wobbling across the bar, lights flashing, people dancing, music blaring, then zooms out to his smiling happy face. Then there's the filming of the street festival and the overall way which New York is captured so perfectly. It feels like you are really in the city, the movie has that gritty feeling to it.
The dialogue is great, many of it is ad libed by Deniro and Keitel. This is the beginning of ad libbed dialogue for deniro, the culmination being his speech in front of the mirror in taxi driver; "You talkin' to me"? There's a scene where Keitel confronts Deniro outside the bar to ask him about his debt, the exchange is perfect, it could never have been written and its executed beautifully.
The acting is also fantastic throughout.
So, great acting, great filmwork and great dialogue all come together to create a wonderfully realistic film.
Now, the end of the movie, maybe you didn't understand it, so I'll explain the film. I'll try not to spoil the ending.
Ok, so Charlie does some bad things, he works for the mob after all, and he wants to repent for his sins, so, after going to church and then later seeing jonny boy in a bar he thinks that God has asked him to repent for his sins on the streets, by helping out Jonny Boy. He doesn't believe that saying a few hail mary's or confessing washes away one's sins.Read more ›
Another powerful aspect of the film is the acting. Along with the intense charactarizations created by the actors, there also seems to be quite a lot of improvisation used (especially in the backroom scene where DeNiro tries to explain his losses to Kietel). This creates an air of pathetic authenticity, a welcome attribute in most of Scorsese's films.
Ironically despite the fact that the film is set on the 'Mean Streets' of New York, all the interior shots were filmed in L.A. with a different camera crew than the one that shot the exterior shots in Manhatten.
The film is also a visual document of the decline of Little Italy, much of which today is just an extended part of Chinatown.
A 'mook' by the way is Neapolition for bigmouth.
Keitel is near perfect in his role. In most other films, the audience would hardly consider Keitel a protagonist. He runs numbers, wacthes strippers, and does not "love" his girlfriend. However, when compared to Deniro's Johnny boy or some of the other characters in the film, one can't help but admire his altruism. In Mean Streets, Keitel plays the only role he is capable of playing well: A man stuck in two different worlds; In this case the world of clubs, dark alleys and violent street corners and the other more peaceful and disciplined world he strives for.
I don't care much for DeNiro's character, so I will not comment much on him, however it is only fitting that I reccomend some other films for Kietel fans on fans of this genre. Bad Lieutenant is the best place for any Keitel fan to start, but it is certainly not for the faint hearted. Taxi Driver also stars Keitel, but DeNiro is the main character. These films both tell the story of a man who is so fed up with the turmoil he observes every day on the streets, that he takes a road which eventually results in his own destruction.