Mean Streets (1973)

A real codifier of Scorsese style and the ground level gangster movie subgenre, an enjoyable plotless exploration of mafia machismo, Catholic guilt, and tempestuous relations.

The striking slow motion and red swathes play interestingly with the religious questions of the film, giving it all a kind of judgment vibe. This is carried on the back of Harvey Keitel as the protagonist concerned with morality and consequence, but the highlight performance is Robert De Niro as a frustratingly unreliable rogue type.

Another interesting style feature is the soundtrack, oscillating between traditional Italian music and 1960s rock, illustrating the odd division at the bifurcated heart of the mafia experience Scorsese so likes to explore. The ending sequence, and the two locations it cuts between, does this as well.

It’s a powerful statement of style, and a mark of even greater things to come. Three and a half missed payments, and a 7 and 7.

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