MEAN STREETS (Martin Scorsese)
They say you can judge a fillmmaker's future by his/ her first film, and MEAN STREETS clearly advertised Scorsese as a force to be reckoned with, with the tight story, the single takes, the unusual camera angles, and the authentic urban crime backdrop.
In MEAN STREETS, Scorsese tackled crime, family, tradition, Catholicism, brotherhood, and a series of Catch 22 situations. Harvey Keitel is suave as Charlie, a man torn between ambition and conscience. Robert De Niro is live wire as the reckless debtor Johnny Boy. Meanwhile, an epic tale of people victimized by desperate situations and social expectations unfolds.
Like Scorsese's later films (CASINO, GOODFELLAS, THE DEPARTED) which deals heavily on the moral weight of choices that are difficult to make, MEAN STREETS presents us with a backdrop on urban crime as seen through the eyes of a conflicted character trapped at the heart of it all.
Moreover, MEAN STREETS paints us a picture of a generation swinging with upbeat music, and at the same time tumultuous, with the high incidence of organized crime.
Though not as violent as Scorsese's later films (the gun shots can be counted in your fingers), MEAN STREETS makes up with sharp dialogue, superb acting, and a stylistic exercise in minimalism.