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Mean Streets
BLU-RAY disk
08.15.2012 By: Jason Adams
Mean Streets order download
Director:
Martin Scorsese

Actors:
Harvey Keitel
Robert De Niro
Amy Robinson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Charlie is trying to make as honest a life as he can working as a loan shark for his mob boss uncle in New York City. However, his future and his present are tested by his spiritual crisis, a forbidden romance, and his friendship with the volatile and violent Johnny Boy.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
While technically not his first actual movie, MEAN STREETS is Martin Scorsese’s debut as the type of filmmaker he would grow to become throughout his career. It has all his cinematic trademarks and seeds of his future work—fluid camerawork, a gritty, realistic New York, unflinching violence and a love of pop music. Scorsese was clearly hungry and eager to prove his chops and the result is exactly as good as you expect.

The film follows Harvey Keitel’s Charlie as he and his friends attempt to grow in to their own as men of honor and value within New York City’s underground. It’s often introspective in its pondering of modern religion, human nature and good vs. evil, but it also has an entertaining lightness to it from the honest relationships of the young men. Much of the movie features memorable little vignettes and odd stories from Scorsese’s own experiences growing up in the city. (The random tiger, David Carradine’s drunken cameo.) Coupled with its innovative handheld camera (which was mostly due to necessity) MEAN STREETS manages to captures a raw and real aesthetic that was unique at the time, as well as part of its charm.

As much as the film is a showcase for Scorsese’s obvious talent, it’s also a cinematic announcement for the career of Robert De Niro. The young actor clearly had a lot to prove as Johnny Boy, the wild eyed destructive force of nature that Charlie desperately needs to redeem, and he owns the movie despite being a supporting character. That’s not to take away from Keitel’s lead role, which still boasts a quiet strength and relatable sensitivity for a mobster, but playing the straight guy to an unhinged, unpredictable young De Niro is a thankless role.

MEAN STREETS may not have the same “wow” factor that some of Scorsese’s later works would have, but the slow-burning character piece does completely belong in the auteur’s canon of impressive, influential films.
THE EXTRAS
The two special features here are both carried over from the previous DVD release.

Commentary with director Martin Scorsese, screenwriter Mardik Martin and actress Amy Robinson: As a master of his craft, Scorsese is always a joy to listen to and this is one of my favorite commentaries of his. This debut is clearly a personal and important project to him and he has plenty to say about it, from memorable stories about the challenging production to how everything relates to his own young life. A highly recommended listen.

Back on the Block (6:57): There’s not too much of substance to this quick vintage featurette (at least compared to the informative commentary), though it is fun to see everyone so young.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you’re a fan of Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS, TAXI DRIVER, CASINO, etc. and you haven’t seen MEAN STREETS, you owe it to yourself to see where one of the greatest living filmmakers began. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this tale of New York City crime, tested relationships and a young De Niro at the top of his game.

Extra Tidbit: Borrowing a note from Fellini, Scorsese himself voices Harvey Keitel’s narration in the movie.
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+2
12:50AM on 08/15/2012

fantastic film!

one of Scorsese's very, very, very best and De Niro's best role. Love it and I need it on blu-ray! Just wish the North American release actually included all the special features the france blu-ray did... wtf
one of Scorsese's very, very, very best and De Niro's best role. Love it and I need it on blu-ray! Just wish the North American release actually included all the special features the france blu-ray did... wtf
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