(au) wrote: Kind of like a soppy version of Zwartboek 'Lite' that most mums would quite enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. Although Cate Blanchett does a very decent job of not sounding Australian and France looks very French throughout, the fact that this film is completely in English, yet set mostly in France 'wiz ze Frenchie acsonts' means it all comes across as a little too Allo Allo to be taken seriously. The plot is fairly predictable, the tension and action somewhat lacking, considering it's a WW2 film. You probably won't fall asleep through it, but Where Eagles Dare this ain't. Comme i, comme a - 6.5/10
(es) wrote: Martin Scorsese's 1973 masterpiece Mean Streets is a riveting tale about the consequences of sin specifically through personal pain and dysfunction. The main themes of the film (guilt and redemption) are accentuated by the very first line "You don't make up for your sins in church; you do it on the streets." The film involves Charlie, a young Italian-American man living in New York City and his struggles with various different aspects of his life. The amalgamation of all of his struggles culminates in one large truth: he seeks redemption because of the type of life he lives, and how he lives it. Charlie, meticulously played by a controlled Harvey Keitel, is a lower grade Mafioso working for his uncle Giovanni (Cesare Danova), the local capo regime in the neighborhood of Little Italy, New York. In addition to his uncle Giovanni, Charlie maintains two important relationships throughout the course of the film. The first is with his younger, destructive friend Johnny Boy, brilliantly played by Robert De Niro in one of his earliest, but in my opinion, finest renditions of a character to date. Charlie harbors a deep affection for Johnny, despite the latter's tendency to be a juvenile delinquent and constantly put him at risk. This leads Charlie to more often than not, put himself on the line for his friend. This dynamic becomes important later on in the film as two important scenarios unfold. First, Johnny becomes more self-destructive and Charlie, whose love for his dear friend is unweathering, is forced to sacrifice himself to a greater degree by consistently trying to make things right with his uncle as a result of Johnny's behavior. And secondly, things become particularly interesting when Johnny refuses to pay a loan shark Michael (Richard Romolus) and things become shall we say...'mean'. The second important relationship is a romantic one, between Charlie and Johnny's cousin Teresa. This relationship is kept a secret from Johnny, which only helps accentuate the idea that Johnny's character is like kerosene: light a match and it will explode. Scorsese, who also happens to be a co-writer for the film, presents Charlie's relationship with Teresa as a turbulent one, albeit in a different way from the relationship he shares with Johnny. Teresa happens to be epileptic, and the real challenge for Charlie in this case, is his struggle to accept her, despite this 'flaw.' Add in the fact that his quest for redemption for his livelihood and his relationships constantly pull him down, and we are presented with a very interesting dynamic indeed. The film does not just stop there; it takes us on a journey into the lives of these characters and gives us not only a taste of what it is like to be a small time Mafioso in a rough neighborhood, but the everyday struggles that these people face. In the process, the film manages to show us that these people, despite their extreme occupation, are still human beings in essence, bent upon attaining their perceived sense of normalcy. This is a great film for numerous reasons. First and foremost, the direction is what gives the film a sense of uniqueness and more importantly, makes it very watchable. Steven Spielberg once said that while he acknowledges he makes good films, he felt he never had a 'style.' What exactly did he mean by 'style?' Well, take a look at Scorsese's direction in this film and you get your answer. The fluid camera movements accentuated by elaborate tracking shots, the cinematographic angles, the 'macho' posturing of the male characters (which helps accentuate the danger of the world they live in) and the use of classic Rolling Stones music all contribute to a directorial style that is sure to be mimicked by numerous filmmakers for years to come. Scorsese's direction, for only his third feature, is incredibly original and even more so, breathtakingly sophisticated. But perhaps, most impressive about the direction is the effortlessness in its execution: never once does it look forced; never once does it take us away from what is really important- the characters, which brings me to my second point.The characters in this film are really interesting and for 1973, not very stereotypical. But it is the performances really bring out the essence of these characters, and credit must be given where it is due. First off, Harvey Keitel does a great job at being the reserved Charlie hoping to preserve his turbulent relationships. He brings a sense of great maturity to a character that many, in the normal world would consider to be irrational. This maturity is displayed though his interactions with the people he cares about, particularly Johnny boy. At the same time, his pain is evident through his controlled expressions and mannerisms. And speaking of mannerisms...it's time for the powerhouse performance: De Niro, the man who with his inconceivable charm and flamboyant mannerisms, manages to ensnare the viewer in his performance. An over the top rendition of an already reckless character is exactly what the doctor ordered, and we are compelled to experience a coaster of emotions when the time calls for it, or rather, when he calls for it... Yes, such is the depth of his performance. But De Niro's true genius lies in his ability to bring more than a few ounces of likeability to a character that should, at most times, be at least greatly annoying if not downright despicable. But such is the magnitude of his performance that he is able to both annoy and captivate us. The supporting cast of Amy Robinson and Cesare Danova also do their part in this tale. Robinson is very compelling as a woman suffering from epilepsy and she manages to emote what it would be like if someone were to be in her position: not just unwell, but ostracized as a result of it. Danova adds an extra element of authority and order. His character serves as a constant reminder of what Charlie is trying to do throughout the course of the film: seek forgiveness and achieve redemption for his sins. Lastly, Romolus as Michael is a great addition; a character that adds that extra bit of intimidation which gives a film with great potential an edge. And what we get is a truly brutal performance, one that is so evidently bad yet so undeniably cool. And that is the nature of most Scorsese films really: the unlikeable becomes likeable and the recognizable become iconic and Scorsese has completed another well-rounded picture that is sure to become a cult classic. However, while I absolutely adore this film, this film is not without it's little inconsistencies, which if you don't really pay much attention to, you would miss anyway. One such example would be a few instances of dubbing inconsistency and an occasional goof. The plot at times, seems less tight than some of the other ventures Scorsese would create in the future, but this is hardly a flaw, and is nothing more than a very small dent in an otherwise impressive shield, presented to us by one of America's finest filmmaking talents.