The Dirty Dozen (1967)
The film tells the rousing story of a group of misfit soldiers who elect to go on a suicide mission during WWII in lieu of serving out their prison sentences. While we don’t get a full look at each member of the titular dozen, the film does a wonderful job juggling its large cast in a way that we still get to know most of the twelve. Lee Marvin lights up the screen in every scene, and watching the film makes me want to check out more of his extensive work. The film has a lot in common with The Great Escape: a war movie that feels like a comedy until the third act when the tension ratchets up several notches, leading to a sobering ending that still does not seem out of place.
Mean Streets (1973)
My roommate walked in while I was watching the movie. "What’s happened?" "Nothing." "You just started?" "No, I’m an hour in." And it was downhill from there. I have never enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s exercises in ugliness, but this one didn’t even have a plot to pretend to engage me. In fact, I had to read the back of the DVD case to get the story of the movie I just watched. Most of the characters are thoroughly unlikeable and all the scenes take place in dingy, dirty environments that most people would clean before inhabiting. While it may have some interesting camera work, all the fancy camera work in the world is useless unless it is showing something worth looking at.
Coming up next: a crazy protagonist and a crazy chronology.