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00679 - MEAN STREETS

Movie-Hype00679 - MEAN STREETS

Call it “Boyz in the Italian Hood,” circa 1973. Early Martin Scorsese story of a few quasi-criminals, perhaps dreaming of life higher up in the actual Mafia, perhaps just dreaming of something more. (Then again, you don’t have to be ethnic to be a slacker 20-something, but it always seems more interesting.) These kind of “realer than real life” films always date poorly after about a decade, and MEAN STREETS suffers this same fate. Perhaps because of less violence, MEAN STREETS never developed the cult following of GODFATHER, SCARFACE, or even Scorsese’s own TAXI DRIVER, but the skill of the young filmmaker as he captures the flavor of the times is evident.

MEAN STREETS is clearly an inspiration for many later films and filmmakers (and kudos to my sister who noticed that the ironic ‘50s soundtrack was awfully Tarantino-esque), but I couldn’t call it required viewing for any but movie buffs. However, the wonderful performance by a young Harvey Keitel and a then-unheralded Bobby De Niro make it worth the time. In fact, that might be the lasting impact for me; seeing how incredible a young De Niro was, and then immediately after turning TBS for ANALYZE THAT to see how far he’s fallen. How could arguably the greatest actor of his generation just quit caring?

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