Gangs of New York Reviews
Go watch some Shaw Bros flick if you want more or less the same story (kid avenging his father's dead from evil cartoon guy, clash of different groups, historical setting, etc) but better told, and with cooler fight sequences.
"America Was Born In The Streets."
Gangs of New York is a terrific movie because of its lead actors, Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio and because of the one and only Martin Scorsese. No one makes a movie centered around crime and violence as beautifully as Scorsese. This may not be his best or even close to his best, but that doesn't take away from just how good it is.
Daniel Day-Lewis gives, surprise, surprise; a masterful performance as Bill The Butcher. DiCaprio gave his best performance up to that point which he has exceeded now. DiCaprio plays Amsterdam Vallon, son of "Priest" Vallon, who was at war with Bill The Butcher when Amsterdam was a young boy. He watched his father die at the hands of Bill and comes back years later to seek some revenge. A great supporting cast helps fill a nearly 3 hour movie with not one boring scene. John C. Reilly, Liam Neeson, Cameron Diaz and Brendan Gleeson all give solid supporting performances.
Everything is here that you'd expect in a Scorsese film. The attention to every little detail. As a period piece, it works. As a crime film, it works. It's exactly what everyone expects when they sit down to watch a Scorsese film. The last half hour may turn into a violent mess, but if anyone can film a successful mess; it's Martin Scorsese.
another great one from director, Martin Scorsese.
Nominated for an incredible 10 Academy Award nominations...including nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, I cannot recommend this film enough!
The first thing that hits you about this semi epic is the fact it looks amazingly realistic from the sets to the costumes in every scene and every aspect. All the characters look greasy, seedy and unwashed whilst carrying the perfect sense of 18century New York across to a tea with their remarkably good accents, this of course helps with a good choice of cast. Day-Lewis of course is the man in this film with his 'Dick Dastardly' whiplash moustache, gleaming glass eye, coarse voice and tall slim body all dressed in close fit waistcoat, top hat and full length coat is strangely 'Burton-esq' and intimidating. The constant use of his knifes and meat cleavers in the film is quite un-nerving I must admit hehe the scene on stage with Diaz and his knife throwing act is quite a tense moment that really shows his savage nature at humour. Day-Lewis maybe the best actor of our age for me and this performance really does show his dedicated nature to bringing out a character from simple walking motion to the quite eerie expressions of his face whilst trying to tame or perhaps contort his facial hair.
His impressive performance is also accompanied by Gleeson, Neeson, Broadbent and surprisingly Diaz (for once) yet the inclusion of Scorsese favourite DiCaprio for me was a bad choice as despite being a quite decent actor now at the time of this film he simply wasn't good enough in my opinion and didn't look the part either, my opinion.
The plot is intriguing set against the 18century New York draft riots, mass immigration problems from the Irish mainly and the ongoing scuffles between many factions for the control of The Five Points area. As said the story is accurate with little use of artistic license which is highly notable and again surprising, many names of people and gangs are real as is the depiction of racism, murder of blacks during the riots and bloody warfare between the gangs, some of this on my first viewing I thought may have been fantasized.
The film isn't a true flowing epic though in all honesty, its very good and enjoyable but I think the look and feel of the film is the true winner here, you can almost smell the rot, damp and dank haha The plot does get rushed towards the end I feel and the finale isn't a good one, a slight anticlimax and one inaccurate aspect of the film, the ending of the film lets it down.
Memorable scene, Cutting explains to Happy Jack Mulraney how he wants the killer of a poor innocent little rabbit caught :) some of the best facial expressions I've seen since De Niro :)
So, Scorsese. Well after watching several of his earlier films I must say that the filming and editing were a lot... sexier? Seemed a lot slicker especially during the battle scenes. Not to say I disliked it, just seemed unScorsese.
Also Leo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis need high mentioning.
I once heard at a film workshop in a presentation of the local Talent Manager for There Will Be Blood that Daniel Day-Lewis is a method actor and never dropped his act once while filming. I can't imagine the trial that must have been for him in this. And Leo. Leo has come such a long, long way from Jack Dawson don't you think? To say that he is astounding is just obvious.
On other notes: FANTASTIC costumes and set. Awesome violence and action. Fabulous. Totally worth the near to 3 hours.
As good as he is though, this is Day-Lewis' show through and through. He pretty much owns this movie like it's no one's business.
The last act of Gangs of New York made the entire movie worthwhile, for me. It also was part of the reason why the film occasionally felt so disjointed.
On one hand, Gangs of New York tackled such heady issues as immigration, the draft, class conflict, racism, and discrimination of all kinds. It's a pretty brutal and realistic movie, in that regard. On the other hand, it's the story of a young Irish American who seeks revenge for the murder of his father. I found the latter far less interesting than the former.
These two parts of the story are supposed to parallel each other, and I can see the ways that Scorsese tried to connect them, but it's only towards the end where this approach actually works. The rest of the time, it's fairly awkward.
I lay a lot of the fault for this in the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. I have no problems with either of these actors (and have enjoyed them both in other movies), but they just didn't "fit" here. And when they were surrounded by so many actors who were perfect for the location and time period, they stuck out like a sore thumb. It doesn't help that the two characters were basically thrown together, with little story basis for why they should be so devoted to one another.
Despite what I considered to be its considerable flaws, I still thought that Gangs of New York was a good film. Seeing an exaggerated portrayal of some of the actual history of early New York and immigration to the city was cool, and most of the latter half was brilliant. Fans of Scorsese are in for a (at times muddled) treat.