Scorsese Month Review: Mean Streets

Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay By: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin
Release Date: October 14, 1973
Run Time: 112 Minutes
Rating: R

We’re going to kick off Scorsese Month the same way he kicked off his career: with “Mean Streets”. As a first film, this really does paint a precise picture of what a Scorsese film will be through out most of his career: Gangs, Crime, Violence, Catholic Guilt and so on. Unfortunately, this feels like the first movie some directed as well. While Martin Scorsese is a Cinema God, this is not the work of the mastermind we all know and love, but the rookie he was, and his inexperience shows. Firstly and most blatantly in the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of plot to this movie.
The movie fallows Charlie, a low level mobster looking to clime the ranks, but his Roman Catholic believes and moronicly reckless friend Johnny Boy keep pulling getting in the way. The main issue through out the movie is Charlie seeing salvation by helping Johnny Boy be less of a dip shit. And that’s it. That’s the plot of the movie. The movie isn’t bad, but there really isn’t much to talk about in terms of plot. Out side of the few times we see Charlie trying to make Johnny Boy grow the hell up, most of the movie is about Charlie’s life as a gangster.
Now, with all my bitching about how little plot there is, think this may be the key into understanding just how good a director Martin Scorsese is. While I was waiting for something substantial to happen I was never board. Watching Charlie and Johnny Boy collecting debts, watching Charlie and his relationship with the epileptic Teresa, watching the two friends rip off a couple of kids, all of this is a lot of fun, even though it’s all ultimately irrelevant. This may not be as good a fist film is as “Reservoir Dogs” was for Quentin Tarantino, but it is still a very good movie.
So…yeah…that as great a review as I was hoping, but there really isn’t all that much to say. Well, next time we’ll see how much changes in over a decade as I take a look at “The Last Temptation of Christ”.


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