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The future is set for Tony and Michael, owning a neighborhood bar and making deals in the mean streets of New York city's Little Italy. For Charlie, the future is less clearly defined. A small-time hood, he works for his uncle making collections and reclaiming bad debts. He's probably too nice to succeed. In love with a woman his uncle disapproves of (because of her epilepsy) and a friend of her cousin, Johnny Boy, a near psychotic whose trouble-making threatens them all, he can't reconcile opposing values. A failed attempt to escape (to Brooklyn) moves them all a step closer to a bitter, almost preordained future.
For more about Mean Streets and the Mean Streets Blu-ray release, see Mean Streets Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 21, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova
Director: Martin Scorsese
» See full cast & crew
Mean Streets Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 21, 2011
Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" (1973) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Carlotta Films. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; video interview with film critic Kent Jones; making of featurette; documentary film; and more. In English, with optional French subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Charlie (Harvey Keitel, Bad Lieutenant, Holy Smoke) dreams about running a restaurant controlled by his uncle Giovanni (Cesare Danova, Dublin Murders), a respected Mafia boss. Any chance he gets he tries to show Giovanni that he is a man that can be trusted, a man that can take care of things. He reminds people in the neighborhood when it is time for them to pay their dues and collects bad debts for him. He has a good image but not the status he wants.
Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, Once Upon a Time in America), Charlie's best friend, is a violent punk without ambitions who owns money to a lot of people, including Michael (Richard Romulus, Murphy's Law), a loan shark with plenty of friends who like to carry guns. Johnny Boy does not have a steady job and isn't interested in having one, which is why he keeps borrowing money from people that are willing to give them to him. He has already missed a couple of payments with Michael, which is why Charlie has been asked to talk to him.
Tony (David Proval, Nunzio) owns a small bar where the guys like to hang around. He isn't making much but realizes that it is better to be behind the bar than trying to make ends meet on the streets. He likes going out with Charlie and Johnny Boy.
Teresa (Amy Robinson) is Johnny's sister. Charlie likes making love to her but is unsure if she is the woman he should spend the rest of his life with. In fact, he is unsure if he wants to have a wife. Women make him feel good, but they also make him feel weak and guilty. Teresa does not understand Charlie. He is a good man, but not like the other men in the neighborhood. She can't read him.
Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets is about faith and rituals and a group of men with different priorities in life. All of them are Italians who live in an environment where violence is a way of life. They are friends, but true friendship means little to them.
Charlie, the smartest and most ambitious amongst them, is a man of faith. Part of him realizes that he is surrounded by men who have embraced crime and turned their backs on God, but he cannot walk away from them because he understands that he belongs amongst them. This is why he has assumed the role of a mediator, trying to maintain order and prevent his friends from committing foolish crimes. It is the best he can do. It is the only thing he can do.
Giovanni does not like the fact that Charlie always tries to help Johnny Boy. They live in a jungle where only the smart and strong must survive. Johnny Boy is weak, unreliable, a recipe for disaster. If Charlie wants to make it big, he should stay away from Johnny Boy. But he isn't - which is why Giovanni has started losing interest in him.
Michael has also started losing respect for Charlie, who has not been able to convince Johnny Boy to pay his debts. In fact, he already feels disrespected.
Mean Streets is the rawest and purest of director Scorsese's gangster films. There is a certain sense of unpredictability and powerlessness in it that feels right, because as news reports often reveal real gangsters aren't classy and flashy men who aren't afraid to face the consequences of their actions; they are, and they are often struggling with moral dilemmas such as the ones Charlie faces in the film.
Note: In 1974, Mean Streets won Best Supporting Actor Award (Robert De Niro) at the National Society of Film Critics Awards.
Mean Streets Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Carlotta Films.
There is a small note included with this release from the French distributors claiming that the high-definition transfer they have used was struck from a newly restored master (presumably available in France). While I cannot offer any specific comments on the work that has been done on this master, I can announce the transfer is indeed very good and that this is clearly the best director Scorsese's film has ever looked. The upgrades are substantial -- detail, clarity, and color-reproduction are all dramatically improved; especially during the longer night scenes with Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, there is depth and image fluidity that are simply not present on previously SDVD releases of the film that I have seen. This being said, the transfer is a bit soft, but, again, detail certainly isn't compromised. There are no traces of excessive noise reduction either -- grain is consistent and present throughout the entire film. Edge-enhancement is also not an issue of concern. Light noise is occasionally present, but it never affects the integrity of the image. There are no serious stability issues either. Lastly, I noticed a few tiny flecks popping up early into the film, but it is obvious that a thorough cleanup has been performed. All in all, Mean Streets looks very good on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Mean Streets Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0 and French LPCM 1.0. For the record, Carlotta Films have provided optional French subtitles for the main feature (they could be turned off via the remote control).
The audio treatment mirrors the video treatment -- it is solid. The various Italian songs heard throughout the film have wonderful organic qualities (on the R1 SDVD release they often sound flat and lifeless), while the dialog has obviously been stabilized. Understandably, the overall range of dynamics the English LPCM 1.0 track allows for are rather limited, but clearly loseless audio enhances the viewing experience very well. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review.
Mean Streets Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mean Streets Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
French distributors Carlotta Films have put together an excellent package for director Martin Scorsese's legendary Mean Streets. Not only does the film look and sound terrific, but the Blu-ray disc also contains a number of excellent supplemental features. Let's hope that Warner Brothers will eventually treat the film with the same respect in the United States. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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