Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Mean Streets


Just because a movie is seminal, doesn’t mean it will hold up forever in my esteem. There is no question that this was one of those films that changed the movies forever. It took us down the mean streets, with guys so penny-ante that they would rip off some teenagers for $15, guys who never even rose up to the Sopranos level, much less the Corleones. There was the usual fuckup, the kid who just could not stop betting money he didn’t have, and his protector, brilliantly played by Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. Halfway through, I wanted to kill that fucking Johnny Boy, a guy so dumb you really wondered how he got as old as he was.

But the plain fact is, that in 2015 we’ve seen these losers in so many different incarnations that I’m just not that interested in them anymore. I am thankful to Martin Scorsese for showing them to us, and I don’t need to see them again. Come to think of it, most of his films are like that. I believe he is one of the best directors working today, maybe the best of all, but looking at his list of films, there’s not really anything I love. Not anything I want to see over and over again. I see them, I say to myself, “Man, that was fucking brilliant,” and that’s it. Raging Bull is a prime example. A total masterpiece, on many critics’ best of all time list … and having seen it, I really don’t want to see it again.

I guess it’s because his view of the world is so harsh, so real, and most of the time I go to the movies to be told there is hope, that it isn’t all that bad, really. To be told comforting lies, in other words. Bottom line, I prefer the totally false but operatic grandeur of The Godfather, a film I will see over and over, to the sad but real mooks on the sad streets.