Mean Streets

Monday, July 29
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1hr 52mins // directed by:Martin Scorsese // featuring:Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel // 35mm

"You don't make up for your sins in the Church...you do it in the streets."

In under three minutes Martin Scorsese revolutionized cinema. The opening credits of Mean Streets has perhaps had a more lasting effect on the use of music and narrative in popular film than any other three minutes in the history of the medium. Arising out of a New York film scene steeped in outré concepts, Scorsese was able to sculpt these elements into a cannon shot that would last for generations.

The story is a simple one: Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is a debt collector for his uncle in the Italian mafia. He feels responsible for his best friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) who is stuck in neutral, owing money to loan sharks all over town. Having to choose between a childhood allegiance and his family is an impossible decision for Charlie, but ultimately there's not much that can be done to save Johnny Boy.

Scorsese filmed on the streets of New York, brilliantly capturing the gritty-ness of the Little Italy underworld circa 1973. Now, forty years later, Mean Streets has lost none of its punch and they continue to be some of the meanest streets out there.