Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mean Streets

Last night's film was "Mean Streets", one of Martin Scorcese's earliest works, featuring a pre-Godfather 2 Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. The story arc follows Keitel's Charlie, a nephew of a Little Italy mobster, coping with his own set of religious morals while trying to function in his amoral environment. He's torn between trying to straighten out his friend Johnny Boy (De Niro), a bum who owes money to an ineffective loan shark (Michael), and reconcile his interest in Johnny's cousin Theresa whose epilepsy is a source of scandal in their community.

The film shoots most of its scenes in New York's Little Italy, and features a great '50s and '60s soundtrack (though the film was released in 1973--apparently, Scorcese used songs from his personal record collection).

Key scenes include:

1) Where David Carradine ("Kung Fu", "Kill Bill") is gunned down by his brother Robert ("Revenge of the Nerds");

2) Cameos with Scorcese and his mother;

3) The fistfight in the pool hall, to the sound of the Marvellettes' "Please Mr. Postman";

4) The loan shark and bar owner ripping off some teenagers for fireworks money;

5) The returning Vietnam vet losing it at the bar and needing to be held down. I recall watching that once with a friend who said "in thirty seconds Scorcese was able to say more about the Vietnam war than Oliver Stone could say in three films."

Overall, it has a low budget feel but is certainly worth watching for any fans of Scorcese's work, as you'll see a lot of his familiar themes at their inception

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