Mean Streets (1973)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova, Victor Argo

Plot: A small-time hood aspires to work his way up the ranks of a local mob.


Tagline – You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Scorsese 101

Story: Mean Streets starts as we follow small time criminals, Charlie (Keitel) and his boys Michael (Romanus), Tony (Proval) and Johnny Boy (De Niro) as they go through their normal days of threatening people for money and trying to reclaim the money the loaned out, all while doing their wheeling and dealing.

Charlie is trying to get his men involved in bigger jobs, despite the local crime bosses not liking all of his work, we follow them to see what they will do to stay relevant in this criminal world.

Thoughts on Mean Streets

Characters – Charlie is the ambitious criminal businessman, he mainly does small robberies with his crew and follows this up with scuffles in bars, he has dreams of moving up the ranks of the criminal underworld with his crew and this is his chance to make that happen. Johnny Boy is the reckless partner in crime for Charlie, he is usually the first one to swing a punch, though he can finish without anything stopping him. Tony is another member of the crew, he owns a bar and doesn’t want any illegal activities happening in his bar. Teresa is the girl next door and partner of Charlie, he reputation puts Charlie’s rise to power in doubt.

PerformancesRobert De Niro and Harvey Keitel are both wonderful in the leading role, showing the tough nature his character requires to become a threat in the film. The rest of the cast all feel like they are part of this criminal world too.

StoryThe story follows two criminals trying to put themselves on the map within the criminal world, trying to impress the local gangster, which sees them finding themselves getting in more trouble than it is worth. This story does show the old school criminal activity world which sees how the people in this world are trying to make a name for themselves by impressing others, we mostly follow them around the city as they try to cause troubles and stop anything getting out of hand, though it isn’t that much to deal with.

CrimeThe crime side of the film puts us into the underworld that the characters will be operating in.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn that shows that we are in a tough neighbourhood where the criminals will always be fighting for control.


Scene of the Movie – Pool hall hustle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not that much going on.

Final Thoughts This is a typical crime world film that shows how criminals are all operating through the film.

Overall: Simple and basic crime film.

Paul Newman Weekend – The Color of Money (1986)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Richard Price (Screenplay) Walter Tevis (Novel)

Starring: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver, John Turturro, Bill Cobbs, Forest Whitaker

 

Plot: Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback.


Tagline – The Hustler isn’t what he used to be, but he has the next best thing. A kid who is.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Smart Sequel

 

Story: The Colour of Money starts when cocky young pool player Vincent Lauria (Cruise) arrives in Fast Eddie Felson (Newman) bar hustling pool against his best player Julian (Turturro). Eddie takes a shine to Vincent and talks his girlfriend Carmen (Mastrantonio) into going on the road to hustle teaching him the ropes.

As Eddie and Carmen try to control Vincent, Eddie learns that Vincent’s flare will keep taking over as he constantly wants to show off, the game has changed too, but this does give Eddie the desire to make a comeback.

 

Thoughts on The Colour of Money

 

Characters – Fast Eddie Felson is now out of the pool game and moved onto the liquor business, when he see Vincent in a bar he wants to take him under his wing and show him the art of the hustle, he is strict with his instructions and gets dreams of a comeback one day, to a life he walked away. Vincent Lauria is the hot shot young pool player that shines in the 9-ball game, he is overly confident and doesn’t follow instructions given to him with his own decisions being his downfall at making the big money early on. Carmen is the girlfriend of Vincent, she understands the rules of the hustle and needs to learn to control Vincent to achieve the highest return on the investments.

PerformancesPaul Newman returns to the character of Fast Eddie Felson, he returns with a bang and shines from the opening scene to the closing as we see his character go through retirement to getting obsessed with a game that nearly ruined his life. Tom Cruise is great as the overly confident player, we see that he is going to be a big star with this role. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is great too, we see how the she can control her player and stand up and be counted in the mostly male world.

StoryThe story follows the return to Fast Eddie Felson, a man we met in The Hustler, we see how he is out of the game now and still making money in his field as a salesman. We see how he sees potential in a new player to help him get back on the road and hustle again, maybe not the playing side, but the investing side. We get to focus on a veteran returning to the sport he loved to prove he is still the best, proving at any age you can return to the sport you love. Seeing how the game has changed from the straight pool style we knew to the 9-ball is the biggest change.

SportsThe table is the same, the game has changed, the pool is now 9-ball a faster version of pool, one that is a lot harder to hustle in because of the increased lucky involved at times, this doesn’t get addressed enough for me because I know how this game can play out and I will admit there is skill involved, this isn’t as skilful as the straight pool we saw in the first film.

SettingsThe film shows us the different styles of pool halls where Eddie tries to teach Vincent, we get the feeling everyone is a local in the hall too.


Scene of the Movie –
The tournament.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Which I know more money can come from hustling, I never understood why Eddie doesn’t go pro.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great sequel to one of the best films of all time, Paul Newman showed us all that he will always be one of the coolest and best actors we ever had, while Cruise makes the big impact.

 

Overall: Strikes the right buttons all game long.

Rating

 

 

Martin Scorsese Weekend – Raging Bull (1980)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin (Screenplay) Jake LaMotta, Joseph Carter, Peter Savage (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Maria Gallo

 

Plot: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Hyped Boxing Film

 

Story: Raging Bull starts in 1941 the Bronx, New York City where we meet boxer Jake La Motta (De Niro) and his promoter, sparing partner and brother Joey (Pesci). The two look to set up the next fighter even though the married Jake spots the 15-year-old Vickie (Moriarty) who has connections with the mob.

Through the 40’s Jake remains unbeaten and marries Vickie and on the verge of a potential title fight. With his career taking off, his personal life is starting to fall apart as he becomes paranoid about what Vickie is doing with his violent side coming through.

 

Thoughts on Raging Bull

 

Characters/PerformanceJake is a brilliant boxer, one of the best of his generation but his out the ring temper causes more problems in his life as he is insecure about his wife’s loyalty, his brother’s loyalty and the people in his life. Vickie is the long-suffering wife that must deal with the temper of Jake while trying to retain a personal life against his wishes. Joey is the brother of Jake who also trains and books his fights but the two are always at conflict with each other.

Performance wise, De Niro is great through this film and you can see why people rave of his performance but I feel and we know he is capable of even better now. Pesci does a good job in what must have been a break through role for him. With Moriarty in her debut hanging with the big names very well.

StoryThe story does follow the career of Jake La Motta from small time boxer to champion to what happens to him after his career in the ring is over, we follow his paranoia in his personal life which comes out in his aggression. If you are into your boxing history you will enjoy the story otherwise you might not connect as well.

Biography/SportsLooking at the career is interesting but I do feel other boxing films are painted a more interesting career, the boxing itself looks fantastic through the film.

SettingsThe settings show us the time we are seeing the events unfold in which is done well throughout.

Final ThoughtsThis is a boxing film that I have heard huge things about, but I didn’t find myself getting engaged with the story in the way I was expecting and found elements of this film kind of boring.

 

Overall: This is one of the most popular boxing films of all time but it won’t make the top of any of my lists.

Rating

 

 

Martin Scorsese Weekend – Silence (2016)

silenceDirector: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese (Screenplay) Shusaku Endo (Novel)

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata

 

Plot: Two priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tough Watch

 

Story: Silence starts in 17th century as father Ferreira (Neeson) is in Japan where he witnesses the torture the catholic believers will go through to keep their faith while Ferreira apostasy himself. Leaving only a letter two priests Rodrigues (Garfield) and Garupe (Driver) refuse to believe Ferreira would apostasy himself they travel to Japan to learn the truth being the last two priest to travel there.

As the hunt to find any Christians in Japan continues Father Rodrigues and Father Garupe continue to spread the faith around the villages as the villagers gain the strength to stand up for their own God. Rodrigues on his journey learns that Japan is dealing with the Christians in a different way to what he was lead to believe but can he finally learn the truth about what happened to Father Ferreira.

 

Thoughts on Silence

 

StoryThe story here is hard to get through even if it is easy to follow because what the Priest have to go through for what they call faith is difficult to sit through. The idea this is how people were treated is terrible and as a non-believer who is open to let people believe in whatever they want I think it is wrong. Make sure you are prepared going into this one though because it is long.

HistoryWe look at the historical side of this story as we see how Christians were treated by the Japanese in the 17th century.

Characters/PerformanceFather Rodrigues is our main character who wants to know what happened to his mentor, he is idealistic for the time and open to listen to anyone who wants to follow Christianity. Ferreira is the one being search for who has given up his faith for the people there. Father Garupe is a good supporting character that works well with Rodrigues. When you look at the performances they are all fantastic from the while cast.

SettingsEach setting is truly authentic for the time period and Japanese culture. We are left to see the struggle each character must go through on a daily basis with the Christians hiding from the Japanese looking to rid the country of them.

Final ThoughtsOne of the hardest films to get through this film because of all the religious aspects going on through the film, it is rewarding but also very long.

 

Overall: Long but rewarding historical drama.

Ratingcard

 

 

Taxi Driver (1976)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Paul Schrader (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle

 

Plot: A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, while attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic, Maybe Not?

 

Story: Taxi Driver starts we meet Travis Bickle (De Niro) a war veteran struggling with sleep and finding peace in night shifts as a taxi driver as he becomes fascinated by campaigner Betsy (Shepherd). Travis also isn’t happy with the state of New York City and wants to see it cleaned up.

When Travis decides to get himself protection he starts to look to clean up the streets himself to protect a preadolescent prostitute Iris (Foster) which leads to the violent outbreak of his.

 

Thoughts on Taxi Driver

 

Characters – Travis Bickle is the lonely unstable former marine that is suffering from insomnia deciding to take a job as a taxi driver at night, he wants to clean up the street and his anti-social behaviour makes his isolation become a violent outrage against the city. Iris is an underage prostitute in the city that keeps crossing paths with Travis and is the one that Travis most wants to protect. Betsy is the love interest of Travis, well the woman he takes out twice only to show us how difficult he finds it to socialise.

PerformanceRobert De Niro does carry this film with a performance that could be the best of his career. Jodie Foster is brilliant in her role where she shows how talented she was at a young age. The rest of the cast are good throughout the film as De Niro works with them all.

StoryThe story here looks into loneliness in the Big Apple, a man that doesn’t fit in and wants to clean up the streets which he believes are not going the way he believes he should. We look at the underworld of prostitution and see the colourful characters that come out at night but in the end it just feels like a study of New York itself.

CrimeThe crime underworld being shown in this film is good as we see one man want to clean up the streets in his own way.

SettingsNew York is a setting I always love seeing used for settings and in this film we get to see the darker side of the Big Apple.

Scene of the Movie – You Talkin to Me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact the film has been put on the all time greats list.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film I have only ever heard wonderful things about and sure the acting is fantastic throughout, the idea of a man feeling like he needs to clean up his neighbourhood is good to but when you look at the full picture it mostly just feels slow and dated in the storytelling process which spends over an hour building in one direction only to head off into another one for the second half of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant acting, but storytelling leaves questions marks.

Rating