Tag Archives: 1973

Mean Streets (1973) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Robert De Niro as John “Johnny Boy” Civello
Harvey Keitel as Charlie Cappa
David Proval as Tony DeVienazo
Amy Robinson as Teresa Ronchelli
Richard Romanus as Michael Longo
Cesare Danova as Giovanni Cappa
Director: Martin Scorsese

A look at a group of small-time hoods and hustlers trying to make a living on the streets of New York. The story centers around Charlie (Harvey Keitel), a loan collector for a mobster named Giovanni (Cesare Danova). He can be pretty tough when he needs to but gets into trouble for cutting his friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) – also his girlfriend’s cousin – a bit too much slack. His girlfriend (Amy Robinson) is also a problem as she is epileptic and Giovanni, who genuinally cars about Charlie, wants him to dump her. As pressures mount, Charlie faces some difficult decisions with none of the possible outcomes to his liking.

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Although he’d film Who’s that Knocking at my Door and Boxcar Bertha beforehand, Mean Streets is the movie that got Martin Scorsese really noticed, and for very good reason. The raw yet energetic filmmaking is very impressive even today, and Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro more than shine in their roles here.

Mean Streets is Martin Scorsese’s first crime movie, and it’s not a bad first film for him to make in the genre. It feels like a very personal movie for Scorsese, the characters and the world feel real and the dialogue certainly sounded authentic. I personally wasn’t hugely invested in the characters, but I was more than willing to watch where they went next. The plot is a little loose and doesn’t have much of a focus or driving force (similar to Who’s that Knocking at My Door), but it works as that. The tension escalates slowly, culminating in a very memorable ending.

Often when it comes to people talking about Mean Streets, Harvey Keitel is overlooked by Robert De Niro but they’re equally as good. Keitel is really good as the main character Charlie, he’s pretty much in every single scene of the movie and the plot basically surrounds him and all the people he interacts with. Robert De Niro is the highlight performer however as Johnny Boy and steals every scene he’s in. He’s really volatile and filled with this chaotic unbound energy that can’t be tamed, one of the most standout performances of his career for that very reason alone. Charlie and Johnny Boy really feel like friends, while you can also feel the stress and frustration that the former feels as he keeps trying to keep the latter out of trouble (often to no avail). This was the first collaboration that De Niro had with Scorsese and it certainly wasn’t the last. The rest of the cast also work well for what they need to be but those previous two are the standouts.

Martin Scorsese’s direction even from his debut was shown to be good and he furthered that with Boxcar Bertha but he really has progressed with Mean Streets. Compared to a lot of his movies later on where the camera movement is largely smooth, some of the filming here was rough and handheld, but that actually worked for this movie. The budget was only $500,000 but he seemed to make great use of that because it’s a really good looking movie. The use of colour was also effective, especially with the prominent use of red in some scenes. The music was once again well picked, which is to be expected by Scorsese. There are just so many cinematic moments that stand out in this movie, from the opening scene of Be My Baby by The Ronettes, to Johnny Boy’s entrance into a club set to Jumping Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones, to a fight in a pool hall and so on.

Mean Streets is rough around the edges, but it’s raw, full of energy, and a showcase for what Scorsese can do behind the camera. Additionally, the acting is great, with Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro really shining in their roles. Definitely essential viewing especially if you’re looking to watch a lot of his movies. Sure, it’s not one of his best movies, or even one of his best crime movies, but it is for sure one of his most important films.

The Exorcist (1973) Review

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The Exorcist

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror, Violence, Sex Scenes and Offensive Language.
Cast:
Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil
Max von Sydow as Father Lankester Merrin
Jason Miller as Father/Dr. Damien Karras S.J.
Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil
Lee J. Cobb as Lieutenant William F. Kinderman
Jack MacGowran as Burke Dennings
Director: William Friedkin

An actress (Ellen Burstyn) calls upon Jesuit priests to try to end the demonic possession of her 12-year-old daughter (Linda Blair).

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I’ll just say this right now, there was never a moment during The Exorcist where I felt scared. To be fair though, there have been only two movies that have scared me (Sinister and The Babadook). I’m just mentioning this at the beginning of the review because despite Exorcist being crowned as the scariest movie of all time, I didn’t feel anything scary at all. With that said, The Exorcist is still worth the praise for the direction and acting. It took this possession story as seriously as possible and makes it seem somewhat possible (mostly), and it definitely has its place in cinematic history. It just seems like I’m one of the rare few people who don’t find The Exorcist to be that scary.

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When you go into The Exorcist, don’t expect a jumpscare kind of movie, this is more of a tension filled horror movie, at least in terms of the direction it was going in. This movie is quite drawn out, so also be prepared to be waiting for a little while before the actual possession and ‘scares’ start to happen. As I said earlier, the movie just flat out didn’t scare me. I don’t know why, it’s more tension filled horror, which I usually like more (like the Babadook) but I just didn’t really care much about this plot. It’s also not a good sign when this movie does have some laughable moments, particularly with possessed Regan. The pictures of her were honestly scarier than the actual scenes of her. Even though I wasn’t scared during them, I still maintain the scenes with possessed Regan are the best and when it cuts away from them, the movie is still interesting, they just weren’t as interesting as those other scenes.

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Despite my issues with the movie, I will say the acting does hold up quite well. Actors like Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow and Jason Miller performed very well and took their roles very seriously. I think the show stealer however was Linda Blair, who did very well both when she was and wasn’t possessed, however it was obvisouly the latter aspect that impressed me the most. My issues with her character when she was possessed came mostly from the writing, and even in those ‘odd’ moments, Blair played her part magnificently.

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As I said earlier, this movie didn’t scare me but there’s no denying that the direction of this movie is excellent. The makeup, lighting and overall direction of the movie made the idea of a possessed girl seem somehow plausible. I think the look on possessed Regan was absolutely fantastic, it looked somehow realistic, much more so than most possession movies of today. All the scenes with her were beautifully directed, which is one of the reasons that I liked them more than the scenes without possessed Regan. After seeing this movie, I can at least appreciate and understand why this movie was such a hit, it was ahead of its time.

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If you are into horror movies and haven’t seen The Exorcist, you definitely should check it out as soon as possible. The fantastic direction and performances really make the viewing worth it, and the film had a tremendous effect on the horror genre in general. Even if this movie doesn’t hold up well as a horror movie today in my opinion, it should be seen for how well made it is. Just don’t go into it expecting the horror masterpiece that everyone claims it to be, or you might be a little disappointed like I was.