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Mean Streets (1973)
Father Martin Scorsese. Stated simply like that, those three words just don't scan correctly, but if Martin Scorsese - the greatest living director never to win an Oscar - had gone with his first love, the priesthood, instead of his second, making movies, we'd never had Goodfellas, or Raging Bull, or Taxi Driver, or Kundun. OK, maybe forget the last one, and replace it with Mean Streets which, to this day, remains probably Scorsese's most personal and powerful work. A strange mixture of seedy violence, frank nudity and the sort of language you'd expect to hear from gangsters in New York's Little Italy, the film is nonetheless drenched in a veil of Catholic guilt (lead Harvey Keitel, as Charlie, a small-time hood who knows that he should get the hell out of

the game, constantly chastises and tests himself) and seems to act as a permanent celluloid confessional for Scorsese's baser instincts. For this alone, this gritty little drama would be worth noting, but it's also shot through with hints of Scorsese's virtuosity (the wonderful pop-infused soundtrack, and the scene where a drunk Keitel teeters through a bar in one disorienting shot), and tantalising glimpses of his future preoccupations: gangsters, the mores of masculinity and a rich and varied partnership with one Mr. R. De Niro, so magnetic here as wildcard wiseguy, Johnny Boy.

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