Mean Streets (1973)

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Martin Scorsese directs Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro and Amy Robinson in this drama following a small time hood juggling internal crisis with his fuck up friend. 

There’s plenty to feast on through Mean Streets; a director developing his house style of narration, pop soundtrack and virtuoso camera moves, eye catching early performances from two of New Hollywood’s greats (Keitel is particularly outstanding) and when we get out on the New York streets some real documentary snapshots of a time and a place surrounding the foreground fiction. But it is palpably an early work by a master and not perfect. A certain scrappiness pervades and there always feels like there’s an air of no consequences, for all rumbles and posturing threats, these characters are safe in their bubbles until the end. Perhaps that is intentional, making the final tragedy more of a shock… but the movie is at its most effective when we descend into the red lit basement bar and we feel like we are trapped in a wood panelled hellhole. These scenes have an almost mythical quality, with the deals being made and relationships torn asunder in that crimson light becoming intriguingly ambiguous.

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