The 50 Best New York City Movies

14. Mean Streets (1973)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Leading Actors: Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro,
NYC Neighborhoods Featured: NoLita, Little Italy

A hand held over a flame, flesh tested by fire: The image begins Scorsese's Mean Streets. It's a beautiful, concise visual metaphor for the awful Catholic guilt at the film's heart. Mean Streets follows a group of friends as they fuck themselves out of already dim futures in and around Little Italy and NoLita. Many of the most memorable scenes occur at Volpe, a bar owned by one of the characters, which is situated at the border of NoLita and Soho. That the casual violence Scorsese is known for goes down where plenty now take lunch breaks adds a layer of dismal comedy to the proceedings. In Scorsese's universe, you can pull your hand back from the fire, but there will always be some force dragging your balled fist back to blacken and smolder. You can't escape. —RS

"Gritty Realism" voiceoverVoice-over

blog comments powered by Disqus