Mean Streets (1973)

Before Casino, GoodFellas, Raging Bull and even Taxi Driver there was Mean Streets. Martin Scorsese’s first collaboration with Robert De Niro takes us to a darker side of the mafia’s favourite city, New York. We follow the lives of some young, up and coming gangsters learning how to rip people off and owe too much. The film is packed full of great shots and great music with each scene bursting with Scorsese’s creativity, creating an excellently specific feel. It may not be as polished as what you’ve come to expect from the famous director, but this only gives the film an uncanny charm.

Mean Streets (dir. Martin Scorsese, DOP Kent L. Wakeford)

The performances from Harvey Keitel and De Niro are exciting and emotional. You can see where so much of GoodFellas and Casino’s great dialogue got its beginnings in the comfortable and uncomfortable exchanges between the two leads. It’s no wonder De Niro went on to star as a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II the following year! Maybe its retrospect speaking but I wish I’d given this movie a higher score. It’s an unforgettable adventure into 70s New York City and a great example of what a young director can achieve.

The Podfather Score: 6.25/10

– A.A


Boyz N the Hood (1991)

What do we think of nowadays when we imagine a ‘gang’? To today’s generation, ‘gangsters’ are the members of the ethnic and cultural minority of African American youth: armed with guns, cars and a resentment of the system that has done their people wrong. This is where John Singleton’s 1991 film takes us. Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is the ‘good guy’ of his troubled group of friends in Crenshaw, L.A. The gang, which includes the acting debuts of Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut, have had their fair share of criminal incidents, some of whom celebrate their release from prison early in the story.

Boyz N the Hood (dir. John Singleton, DOP Charles E. Mills)

The film navigates us through their lives, the events of which switch between dodging persecution and being confronted by crime. Throughout these events, the film is brilliantly soundtracked by police sirens, screeching tires, helicopters and, of course, gun shots: surrounding the viewer with the ever ominous doom of South Central L.A. The moments where we are confronted with the destroyed innocence of the characters, most of whom we follow from childhood, leave a huge sense of injustice with viewers. The relationships Singleton is able to develop between parent and child, policeman and youth, girl and boy, often leave a more lasting effect than the violence itself. It’s the insight into the black community, however, that has the biggest impact once you’ve walked away.

In 112 minutes, Boyz N the Hood covers everything from racial issues, to the meaning of manhood, to women’s rights, to bloodshed – undoubtably defining it as a gangster film.

The Podfather Score: 8/10

– ML.D
(Marie-Laure Deramond)

The Godfather (1972)

The film that started it all, the inspiration for The Podfather and a significant entry in the careers of Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Marlon Brando himself. Francis Ford Copolla and Mario Puzo present to us how a favourite son turns from a war veteran to a mastermind mafia boss. Weaving in and out of memorable performances from all characters involved, The Godfather set new standards in feel, story, violence and character development for the gangster movie genre. Check out that Mise-en-scène!

The Godfather (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, DOP Gordon Willis)

Packed with memorable scenes from horse heads to toll booths, The Godfather is no doubt a journey fraught with disaster, revenge and heartbreak. All of which goes together to create a critically acclaimed masterpiece of cinema! Ever since movies have challenged it’s place with more flashy, exciting and violent affairs. However, none have tainted the respect we all have for this legendary film.

The Podfather Score: 9/10

– A.A