Gaden uden nåde
Streets” is the first movie on the List by Martin Scorsese. It also features Harvey
Keitel and Robert De Niro as young actors in their first entries on the List.
That is a lot to look forward to and so my expectations were very high going in.
Unfortunately, I cannot say they were met as well as hoped.
We are in
New York’s Little Italy neighborhood where (of course) there is a lot of mob
activity. Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is a low-level mobster doing work for the
family. Exactly what work is never really clear, at least not to me. It is
criminal, but does not seem to involve killing people. Charlie is religious and
see himself as a righteous person who needs to help people, which is almost
comical in a mobster, except that Charlie find himself caught between this
inclination and doing career in the mob. One of the characters Charlie feels
obliged to help is his friend John (Robert De Niro) and that is a real problem
since John is a borderline psychopath who does not care about anything or anybody,
a hopeless case. John owes money left and right with no intention of paying
back his loans. He skips on work and blows up or shoots random things if he is
not outright assaulting people on the street. Charlie tries to cover for him, sweet-talking
his creditors, but John just see Charlie as a dupe and constantly let Charlie
we see a lot of a bar run by Charlie’s friend Tony (David Proval) where Charlie
hangs out with his friends. Charlie also has a secret affair with John’s cousin
Teresa (Amy Robinson), though her function is the story is mostly to showcase
Charlie’s hypocrisy between good intentions and being a mobster.
did a lot of work on the setting and ambience. This has the look and feel of a
New York small time mobster world. A real-life mini-Godfather if you will. It
has that documentary graininess and looseness in narrative that makes it feel
real. Points for that. The acting is also very nice, a joy to watch De Niro and
Keitel, and the soundtrack has all the coolness it needs.
here is the narrative.
is the premise. Charlie has assigned himself the hopeless mission of keeping
John afloat, but John, despite his rebelliousness is not worth rooting for and
much less worth saving, so why do we care? Ditch the moron and get on with it.
is Charlie’s dilemma of being the mobster with a heart of gold. Dude, wake up! That
is oil and water, man. It does not mix. This makes Charlie a ridiculous
character and not a little pathetic. He cannot keep the two things apart and so
he is crap at both and I do not really care for Charlie in the first place.
finally, the story is not really going anywhere. Because Charlie cannot extricate
himself from John, he is being dragged along into his destruction and that is
where the story ends… just like that.
there are probably artistic reasons for the dark obscurity of the images during
the last 10 minutes of the movie and I know it was probably a mistake to watch
this in broad, sunny daylight, but as I could hardly see anything I had only
the sound to go by and it consisted mostly of screaming and shouting, so, well,
I felt somewhat nonplussed.
I get the
impression that the look and feel of this movie was more important than the
actual story, that this is something of a love letter to the Little Italy
neighborhood and the people there, but I wanted more and felt let down. On the
other hand, I am equally convinced that following these small-time mobsters around
is awesome and cool to many viewers and I can respect if not quite understand
while in Melbourne, I went the film museum there and visited a Scorsese exhibition
and I remember there was a lot of stuff from this movie. This was clearly, at
least for Scorsese, a very important film. I just wish I liked it better.