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Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 1

Mean Streets (1973) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"Honorable men go with honorable men."

Everyone's making a big buzz over gangster film kingpin Martin Scorsese's new movie, The Irishman, being released on Netflix. I figured now would be the best time to prepare for this by getting through a bunch of Scorsese movies. I have to mix it up, though. I don't want to review his best seven movies because he's an amazing filmmaker. So I'm going to start with his first big hit: Mean Streets.

Scorsese's first gangster hit is a simple tale of a young man (Harvey Keitel) who works for his uncle, a crime lord. He has a friendly relationship with an irresponsible man (Robert DeNiro) who constantly borrows money from people and rarely pays back. As he works his ways up the ranks of the gangs while hoping for salvation, he looks for it in trying to help his friend to get his life straightened out. But the worse the problem gets, the more danger friend's life is in.

It's pretty easy to see that Scorsese had not come into full bloom at that point. Movies like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are a few steps up. It's a good movie for those who love a good gangster movie and it shows excellent charisma between the major characters. However, the way the characters are held is the main problem. Most of the cast hardly gets any development, which is irking due to the interesting subplot of the main character's search for salvation which is rarely explored. The acting is wonderful, and it's fun to see what the characters are doing with each other at times. But how often does it affect the main storyline? Many smaller characters have little to nothing to do with the main story and have only a couple of minutes of important screen time. On the plus side, most of the scenes revolving around them are well made and very enjoyable. But what happened to that large cat? What's the deal with the party and the soldier?

The most interesting things in the plot are Harvey Keitel's attempts to work up the ranks while dodging his bosses orders without his boss knowing, and Robert DeNiro's irresponsibility affecting everyone around him. The tension is brought upon by the desire to see what the straw that break's the camel's back will be, and the end result is very shocking, especially when you've got Harvey Keitel playing a man who cares so much about him. But I really wish I could have seen more of the religious exploration, because there are so many ways Scorsese could have taken that direction.

Other than that, it's a well made drama. The characters feel very real which helps bring out the tension of each situation, and the setting and scenery help bring out that realism. Much of the plot has to do with the surroundings, and these surrounding and places help to define the story in the long run, even if the characters aren't always following suite due to their random placement. And the fight scenes and other heavily dramatic scenes have a frightful sense of realism which keeps the movie going. The fight scenes are very entertaining and are both tense and a little funny. It also helps that Robert DeNiro's character is hilariously annoying and causes several of them.

Mean Streets is a fun movie in some ways, and a little confusing in others. I was confused the first time due to the scattered subplots and the second time watching it (immediately after the first, believe it or not) confirmed the confusion. But at the same time, more of it made a lot of sense, which kept me interested. It's a charismatic and properly dramatic movie which is only hurt by its poor character handling. I'd say it's a good enough movie for Scorsese fans but I wouldn't consider Mean Streets one of the essential gangster flicks.

Please add commentary on the quality of my reviews if possible. I'd like to know if I'm doing this right.
I would, but Iím not really qualified, Iíve only seen Raging Bull and King of Comedy in their entirety. Will you be doing those?

I've never seen Mean Streets, well one of these days I'll catch it. I just re-checked your review thread, some reviews I had missed. Good to see some positive reviews for Ace in the Hole and The Enemy Below. I don't know why but war films set on submarines always work well for me. I loved both of those films. You're doing good reviews! keep it up

I'm guessing you've seen Morituri? Pretty good movie. I need to re-evaluate it before I review it because it's been a while. But I agree that submarine war movies have a unique appeal to them.

I'm guessing you've seen Morituri? Pretty good movie. I need to re-evaluate it before I review it because it's been a while. But I agree that submarine war movies have a unique appeal to them.
No I haven't, but I just looked it up and it's something I'd like to see.

BTW I'd be interested in a War HoF if you do one of those. I've seen a lot of war films, but there's a whole lot more that I need to see. Have you seen Brando in The Young Lions (1958)?

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 2

After Hours (1985) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

I decided to watch After Hours because it was a very different kind of movie for Scorsese, who's known everywhere for his gangster flicks. A simple black comedy about a terrible night? Not a very Scorsese thing to do, but he does like branching out. Movies like The Color Purple, The King of Comedy, Hugo and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore are an occasionally lighthearted break from the rough gangster films he's done. But I have to admit, After Hours isn't one of my favorites. In fact, it just barely managed to be a great movie. Just barely.

After Hours starts of as a simple end of a boring day at work for an average computer word processor who gets a date with a random woman. But when he goes to her apartment, that's when the chaos begins: his cab fare flies out the window, his date is disfigured, he's waiting a long time for his change, and it quickly escalates to a montage of punks, robbers, and angry mobs.

I really did love the way the events panned out. It was all one big montage of "how the hell did this happen" moments that really brought together a great story in the long run. All these bad things happening to Griffin Dunne make for an interesting and occasionally accidentally thrilling ride. Griffin Dunne's portrayal of the lead character really does bring out the worry in his mind and in ours, allowing the audience to quickly relate to him.

But this is a simple movie otherwise. I have to admit, I rarely found myself laughing at this comedy. I was really interested in where the plot went, so that counts for a lot. But the funny scenes more often felt awkward, like the guy in the bondage suit and the ending scene where Dunne meets the robbers. In some ways, it played out like a cartoon, so I guess that's what made the story so interesting and the humor so light.

After Hours is definitely worth your time if you're looking for a great example of story progression and a change of Scorsese pace. It's not as funny as I was lead to believe, but it's still a fun ride. I guess it's a Scorsese essential that way, but I wouldn't put it in my top five Scorsese movies, and I don't think it'll meet my top ten by the end of this Scorsese week, and especially after I see The Irishman. Like I said, it's managed to be great, but only by a small amount.

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 3

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"Just sit back there and relax and enjoy life, huh?"

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore isn't the most well-received movie in Martin Scorsese's early bunch, but there are a lot of things to love about it. Not as much plot-driven as it is story-driven, this movie provides a very insightful look on the once modern American woman, and can help us all learn a thing or two about sitting back and enjoying life.

The movie before the long-running TV show Alice shows our heroine Alice Hyatt living with her bratty son and her abusive husband who's quick to blame others for his own mistakes. When he's killed in a car crash, however, Alice sets out toward Monterey, California to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a singer. But a road trip is never an easy task when you need a place to live. The job at the bar didn't help when she realized her new boyfriend was just as abusive as her late husband, and the new job at Mel's Diner is giving her a wild time unlike anything she's ever been through, especially when her past experiences have lead her to be wary of the people around her, even her NEW boyfriend.

The first thing I loved about the characters was the cast. Not only were they able to get into character so well, but they all felt real enough to the point where it was all too easy to feel love, hate or sympathy for the characters. Alice's journey from New Mexico to Arizona is a wild and eventful one which kept me wondering where and how things are going to turn out (and how it's going to end where the TV show began), and there was always something to love or hate about the situation at hand. You can't help but dedicate your heart to a suffering single woman who's got the whole world on her shoulders when her biggest obligation is her irresponsible son.

The movie isn't rendered incredible by skillful direction and fancy cinematography. The movie's all about being human. How are we treating other people in this world? How are we being treated? Situations in this movie have a tendency to raise very important questions, which are much more important than the art of cinema. This movie's not about the art of cinema: it's about Alice, and it's about us. We are the cast of the movie.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore rides on emotion and humanity, making it stand out from most of Scorsese's catalogue. I didn't expect to love the movie the way I do, but I'm glad I finally got to watch it. It's probably one of my favorite movies now, and I'd put this on the same level I would put Raging Bull.

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 4

Taxi Driver (1976) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"You talkin' to me?"

There has been a lot of discussion about which Scorsese movie is his masterpiece, and the results are varying. Most may steer closer to one of his gangster movies, while others might go for a change of pace like Raging Bull or his earliest huge hit, Taxi Driver. Taxi Driver is one of the biggest movies of the 70's, but I wouldn't say it's Scorsese's best. It's close, but not his best.

Taxi Driver is a haunting story of an insomniac named Travis Bickle who decides to spend his sleepless nights driving a taxi. But the more he looks at the scum-ridden streets of New York City, the more he ends up disgusted with it. When the one person he decided to trust coldly rejects him before he witnesses a young girl trying to run away from a pimp, he decides he'll clean up New York City himself if no one else will, even if he has to kill a few saps dead.

Taxi Driver doesn't really feel like the essential Scorsese flick, but it does feel like the practice Scorsese had acquired from directing Mean Streets and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore was coming into bloom. Scorsese creates a haunting atmosphere with blurry shots of the darkened New York City nights, further produced through a chilling jazz score by Bernard Herrmann. This aura lets you know that the scum in NYC is as heavy as a fog. So to see Robert De Niro's character go from your average insomniac to a vigilante with a dangerous agenda almost feels relatable. The way events play let you know that the scum is serious business, and so is Travis Bickle. His performance as this average joe-turned-wacko is one for the ages and one of his most naturally flowing performances. The morale ambiguity of the film helps. You're not sure whether or not Travis is a hero or a villain, but you can take what you want from it. And the ending scene left me wanting a Part II, Godfather style because there are so many ways Travis's vigilante behavior can take him.

There are two problems I have with the movie, but they're pretty minor. The first one is minor because the film acts as a character study similarly to The Conversation: the characters are poorly handled. They're mostly very easy to get invested in and like, but they're not on screen long enough to love. I wanted to see more Albert Brooks, despite being aware the decision to abandon several plot points from the first act is relevant to the second and third ones. And like in Goodfellas, a couple of scenes drag on a little, like the climax's ending.

Taxi Driver is a very chilling and surprisingly real movie. It has a lot to say, and yet it still remains ambiguous with the morals. Robert De Niro is phenomenal in this, and it's a definite recommend for adults. This makes my top five Scorsese movies for now, but it's not his best. I'd still give it five stars.

I love Taxi Driver. I seriously consider the 70ís to be on par with the 50ís as best decade for me as far as films.
I really wish I had been born a decade prior so I BBC Iíll have enjoyed the 70ís like I did the 80ís

I love Taxi Driver. I seriously consider the 70ís to be on par with the 50ís as best decade for me as far as films.
I really wish I had been born a decade prior so I BBC Iíll have enjoyed the 70ís like I did the 80ís

I know what you mean. Not that the 90's weren't great but it's not as nostalgic at all.

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 5

Cape Fear (1991) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"I always thought that for such a lovely river the name is mystifying: 'Cape Fear.'"

When I first decided to check out Cape Fear, I thought up two opinions on what I knew about it: the plot could go in a variety of interesting directions, and it seemed like Cape Fear would be one of Scorsese's darkest films. I'd have won a prize for getting the second question right, but the first one wasn't always delivered on.

Cape Fear is a remake of a 60's film starring Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck, except the stakes are higher. A convicted rapist (Robert De Niro) is released from prison, and has read a lot of law books while he was in there. He stalks the lawyer who defended him at his trial and failed to keep him out, manipulating the law to get away with his stalking and torturing legally. But it's quite obvious that the lawyer's teenage daughter is in danger of being the stalker's next victim

Cape Fear boasts a well chosen cast that's lead by Nick Nolte playing the lawyer, who's efforts to maintain his sanity are challenged by the law being manipulated by De Niro's demented rapist, forbidding the lawyer from taking drastic actions. As a result, throughout the movie, the lawyer starts to go a little crazy with bloodlust until the ending fight scene where the grand acting of the part makes it obvious. But Robert De Niro plays one of his best characters as this half-hillbilly half-demented rapist who's performance gradually shines brighter until the crazy crap he pulls from his ass in his last moments on screen which shine with darkness so powerfully that Ozzy would kneel before De Niro. And it was a good movie putting the original film's stars Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum in the film with bit parts. I also enjoyed the role of Joe Don Baker, who I know best from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Final Justice.

But the movie isn't without its problems. Scorsese has a bad habit of drawing out scenes on occasion, and Cape Fear has several scenes which go on a few minutes too long. The build up mostly remains scary, but sometimes the chills are watered down in favor of clever dialogue. However, the heartrate beeps on with the sympathy one must feel for the family as they all go through their own experiences with him. So despite the length, the movie will still win fans.

The score is a cover of Bernard Herrmann's score from the 1962 film, and as a result the music is quite epic in approach, but dated. It's a chilling soundtrack on its own, but remaking the score means failing to take into account the changes made to the movie itself. The movie is slow and builds suspense gradually, so these blasting trumpets aren't always fitting.

Cape Fear is an odd kind of movie where the cons can be seen as pros because they don't fit together perfectly, but still work well all alone. It's a fine enough movie to warrant a four-star rating. It's nowhere near one of Scorsese's best movies, but it boasts an incredible performance by De Niro and is in fact worth your time if you're a fan of thrillers.

So I've reviewed Mean Streets, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, After Hours, Taxi Driver, and Cape Fear. Can anyone guess what the next movie I'm going to review is?

Here's a hint, it's not your typical Scorsese movie, but also something he'd definitely do.

So I've reviewed Mean Streets, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, After Hours, Taxi Driver, and Cape Fear. Can anyone guess what the next movie I'm going to review is?

Here's a hint, it's not your typical Scorsese movie, but also something he'd definitely do.
I'll guess Last Temptation of Christ.
Lists and Projects

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 4

Taxi Driver (1976) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

Just say8ng it's boring IS boring.

I watched it again yesterday for my reviews. It is a very cool movie, but the one flaw with it is the handling of side characters. Like I said, a little overhyped.
Was the following sarcasm and I'm too ignorant to see it?

Not at all. I do think it's a five-star flick, but I wouldn't put it up with The Godfather or Raiders, which are both top 10 movies for me. Taxi Driver's not even top 100.

So no one could guess what the movie was... well, I only had one guess...

But I'm writing it, so you guess what it's gonna be while I write it out.

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 6

The Last Waltz (1978) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"We played eight years in bars, dives and dancehalls, eight years in concerts, stadiums and arenas. We did our last concert. We called it, 'The Last Waltz.'"

Before writing this review for my Martin Scorsese week, I asked my readers to guess what the film would be. I gave them a hint: It's not your typical Scorsese movie, but it's also totally something he would do. Only one man took a guess: The Last Temptation of Christ. Nope, it's The Last Waltz, the first of Scorsese's rockumentaries. If you're going to dedicate a week to Martin Scorsese, why not bring up one of his rockumentaries?

The Last Waltz brings the world live footage of the final performance of a band simply called "The Band" before their initial break up, a concert that astounded all on November 25, 1976. This was going to be the performance of their lives, and so many great musicians from the worlds of rock, blues, soul and folk came to aid them in their quest to perform one of the most spectacular concerts in the world. And they did it.

If you've seen my Billy Joel avatars, you'd know I'm a music geek. I don't watch very many rockumentaries because I typically prefer albums to concerts, but I know a good concert film when I see it. And The Last Waltz is a rock 'n' roller's dream, covering the best highlights of The Band's career with the help of some incredible musicians. Of course, The Band needs no help in keeping up with many of these wonderful guest stars, because their instrumentation is finer than what they've recorded in studios.

Any classic rock fan might feel like a kid in a candy store when they see guest stars like Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan (who's good friends with The Band) coming out on stage and doing what they do best. The guitar duet between Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson was a performance for the ages that's as audibly beautiful as a Mississippi model. The blues is a guilty pleasure style for me due to its rock connections, and to here two blues greats duking it out with each other becomes too much. But the blues greats don't edn there. Muddy Waters comes on stage to sing my favorite pure blues song / Muddy Waters song, "Mannish Boy" which sounds almost as amazing as it did on the album he would include it on the year after the concert, Hard Again. Seeing Muddy Waters there lit me like a lantern.

We also get an incredible mix of folk and country musicians in this concert. Through a softer song, "Coyote," we get the astounding voice of Joni Mitchell, and we get a great performance by country rock king Neil Young, and a few songs by The Band's old mate, Bob Dylan, who doesn't manage to ruin the concert with that voice in his nasal. Wait a minute... Ahem, and we also get some artists who are a bit obscure these days, but if you're into classic rock you'll go out of whack seeing them there. Dr. John, Ronnie Hawkins, and a Beatle by the familiar name of Ringo Starr join in the fun (OK, Ringo's not that obscure, but do you really know any of his solo songs?)

I loved The Last Waltz so much that it became my favorite Scorsese movie, even above all of of his hits. Now that I've seen more for Scorsese Week, it's my second favorite. I'll review my favorite one at some time, but this is easily one of my favorite documentaries. This is as good a music documentary as Hearts of Darkness is a film documentary. No, it's better. If you like any rock music, definitely watch this movie.

Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week, Review 7

Goodfellas (1990) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."

Well, this Scorsese Week has been fun. I got through a ton of movies by one of my new favorite directors, and I got to see some brilliant performances by Robert De Niro. For the last movie of the week, I'm going to review his most famous movie (using imdb votes as criteria), Goodfellas. This is one of the first Scorsese movies I've ever seen, and I can always find something to get a kick out of in this movie. Next to The Godfather, Goodfellas is one of the most essential gangster flicks in this world, and is better than most of Scorsese's Brat Pack-era catalogue.

Goodfellas is the true story of real-life Irish-Italian gangster Henry Hill, who got in the business at a young age and would rise through the ranks with the help of famous gangster Jimmy Conway. At first, the gangster life is the dream all humans wish to achieve, but when you're involved in a dirty business, you've gotta take risks. After being sent to prison for a few years, Henry takes on a new cocaine business and calls in his old partners to help, but that soon takes the worst possible spiral downward.

Before this Scorsese week kicked off, Goodfellas was the best Scorsese movie I had seen, not counting his documentaries (if you do, his best was The Last Waltz). Exluding the docs, this is his second best movie, but it's no less essential for the gangster fan. I'd know. Goodfellas is one of the movies that taught me to love the gangster genre. Part of that is watching how the hypocrisies of the gangster world, glorifying themselves and having such high-standards for their strange moral code while treating everyone else like crap, ends up biting them hard in their stick-ridden asses. Watching these kinds of ending is appealing to me, especially since I can hardly bring myself to watch movies where that kind of attitude does not pair with comeuppance like in racially troubled movies like The Human Condition. Henry Hill's journey from successful gangster to the land of downward spirals is a fun and interesting journey due to the number of routes it takes to get there, like a road movie.

Since the movie has a lot of ground to cover, it has a lot of characters to affect the lie of Henry, and many of them have some great development. I especially loved Paulie's character, being both a wise man capable of great advice for his workers and a behemoth who could intimidate you with nothing but a stare and a slow movement. He was the standout for the minor cast. I liked the subplot involving Henry's wife Karen, and I was happy to here her taking turns narrating the movie with Henry for the sake of world-building. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was when she was complaining about all of the other wives in the business talking about the terrible things that happen in that world.

Funny; the side cast was able to stand the test of time along with the primary cast. Robert De Niro performs Jimmy Conway perfectly, even though I wasn't amazed with the role like I was with his roles in Taxi Driver, Frankenstein and Cape Fear. By that point, Robert De Niro had played so many gangsters that the role felt standard. But he still rocked the movie, along with Joe Pesci who was the sleaziest little man in the gangster world. I loved him and hated him at the same guy. His performance was excellent and comedic, but I don't want to spend five minutes around this guy. Actually, I should say that it's a shame Ray Liotta'sd performance as Henry Hill felt overshadowed by these two, but to be fair, he was competing with De Niro. He played a great Henry Hill, anyway.

The cinematography and music were excellent. The music mostly relied on oldschool songs from the ages of rock 'n' roll, jazz and R&B, which is a kind of soundtrack that I am almost romantically attracted to. And the cameraman, Michael Ballhaus, who worked with Scorsese in the past, produced some of his finest moments in this film. This is the guy who filmed the brilliance of Coppola's Dracula a few years later, ands by this point he's become one of my favorite cameramen. However, like I've mentioned before, there were a couple of scenes I that dragged on. I remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent and Mia were going into that oldschool restaurant, and it was a visual treasure due to its depth and 50's-60's atmosphere. When Vincent walked around the restaurant full of 50's memorabilia, tables inside cars, and waitresses dressed as actresses, he was soaking in this whole new place on Earth. And then we have a scene in Goodfellas where Henry and Karen were walking through a boring kitchen just to get to a restaurant. Boring.

Goodfellas is a fun, dramatic, and sometimes funny movie. Yeah, I think it's funny and I always considered Joe Pesci a clown for my amusement. But no, really. Goodfellas is one of Scorsese's finest films, and a movie that shows him at his most "Scorsese," which means he's come into full bloom. If you wanna check out the gangster genre, or get more familiar with Scorsese movies, Goodfellas is long but it's a wonderful start. This is the second best movie I've reviewed during Scorsese Week.