What I’m Watching Right Now

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Speaking of Scorsese, from my earlier post. The reason I went back to Marty’s early movies is because I had also seen The Departed and there was all this talk of Marty winning the coveted “we’re-sorry-we-didn’t-give-you-the Oscar-for-the-film-you-really
deserved-it-for” Oscar, and I couldn’t figure out what a Martin Scorsese film was, I really couldn’t. I could name ten style choices that make up a James Cameron or Coen Brothers film but who’s this Scorsese guy? and if Casino is what it is, then what’s New York New York? Sure we all know him for his crime drama’s, but what about the other 85%? So I went back to the beginning (the VERY beginning) and I’m still working my way through (the film festival has had other misqueues like Employee of the Month (which is a lot like a Scorsese mo…), but so far I highly highly highly suggest Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to see Mean Streets in 1973, I mean the typical film was more along the lines of The Sting and here’s this film that almost looks like a documentary with performances by twenty-something Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro that really are fire hot. These kids were hungry to act. DeNiro plays a role that I don’t think he’s played since, a young punk, the neighborhood chucklehead jerkoff, and Harvey Keitel plays a man he’d play many more times, the guy trying to hold himself and everyone else together as it all goes to shit. Bottom line it’s Marty’s first crime drama and the only one that comes from a place of innocence, the crime drama’s that would follow would be about BIG names and BIG events and BIG heists and BIG Casino’s. This is about the little guy just trying to get by and keep his nose clean on the mean streets of New York.

Click continue to see the best scene in the movie, a five minute improv between Keitel and DeNiro. You just didn’t see acting (or directing) like this often back then, or maybe you did, I was 1.

-430px-Mean_Streets_poster.jpg

Speaking of Scorsese, from my earlier post. The reason I went back to Marty’s early movies is because I had also seen The Departed and there was all this talk of Marty winning the coveted “we’re-sorry-we-didn’t-give-you-the Oscar-for-the-film-you-really
deserved-it-for” Oscar, and I couldn’t figure out what a Martin Scorsese film was, I really couldn’t. I could name ten style choices that make up a James Cameron or Coen Brothers film but who’s this Scorsese guy? and if Casino is what it is, then what’s New York New York? Sure we all know him for his crime drama’s, but what about the other 85%? So I went back to the beginning (the VERY beginning) and I’m still working my way through (the film festival has had other misqueues like Employee of the Month (which is a lot like a Scorsese mo…), but so far I highly highly highly suggest Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to see Mean Streets in 1973, I mean the typical film was more along the lines of The Sting and here’s this film that almost looks like a documentary with performances by twenty-something Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro that really are fire hot. These kids were hungry to act. DeNiro plays a role that I don’t think he’s played since, a young punk, the neighborhood chucklehead jerkoff, and Harvey Keitel plays a man he’d play many more times, the guy trying to hold himself and everyone else together as it all goes to shit. Bottom line it’s Marty’s first crime drama and the only one that comes from a place of innocence, the crime drama’s that would follow would be about BIG names and BIG events and BIG heists and BIG Casino’s. This is about the little guy just trying to get by and keep his nose clean on the mean streets of New York.

Click continue to see the best scene in the movie, a five minute improv between Keitel and DeNiro. You just didn’t see acting (or directing) like this often back then, or maybe you did, I was 1.

Here’s another clip that shows Marty’s early obsession with the Rolling Stones and a very very familiar looking shot.

And finally here’s the opening to the movie, it’s very radical, one of the most radical elements is cut off here. The movie begins in black with Harvey Keitel’s voiceover stating that you don’t settle your sins in church you settle them in the streets and all the rest is bullshit. Harvey wakes up in a sweat, looks at himself in the mirror and then lays his head down. His head hitting the pillow cues the second most radical moment in the opening “Be My Baby” by the Rhonettes. This came out the same year as American Graffiti and a lot of people don’t know that these two films were the firs to use nostalgic music, up until then every thing has been classical or jazz or score, and if it was pop it was ’68 pop in ’68, ’69 pop in ’69, but nobody before Lucas and Scoresese were putting late fifties early sixties music in movies. Also, ironic use of music, which Marty would continue to do for the rest of his career. Then comes a 16mm montage of Harvey Keitel from the neighborhood, firmly putting you into the reality of this world. The use of scratchy home movies was so radical it appears that Marty was asked to shoot the projector projecting it to make sure the audience wasn’t confused. Take a look. What a slap in the face opening. Nobody had seen anything like it. From this until the bloody shocking finale I’m sure the initial audience to see this was just shell-shocked.

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