In a 58 year career, Martin Scorsese has only made five gangster movies, and yet he has become synonymous with the genre. Then again, when those five films include cinematic classics such as Goodfellas and Mean Streets you can understand why.
Scorsese is a master at simultaneously capturing the allure and danger of a life of crime, neither glorifying it, nor condemning it; rather just presenting it as he believes the character would experience it. Every detail from the handshakes to ‘slicing the garlic with a razor blade’ creates an authenticity that is second to none and helps transport the audience straight into the protagonists’ (or antagonists’!) point of view.
It is this authenticity, and level of honest detail that set his films apart from others in the genre. Helped by his upbringing in Italian-American New York neighbourhoods, and his own personal experiences, Scorsese's gangster films always feel like an insight rather than fiction. Almost as though he is our David Attenborough to the criminal underworld.
With The Irishman set to be released next year, and with him once again teaming up with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, what better time for a nostalgic look back at his contribution to the gangster movie (so far).