Gangs of New York

December 22nd, 2002  |  Published in Uncategorized

Martin Scorsese considers New York’s Five Points slum and the bloody conflict between Irish immigrants and “natives,” with the climax of the film latching on to the 1863 New York draft riots.

A lot of noise is being made about Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Bill The Butcher, which is good a few times and well over the top too many others. Leonardo DiCaprio is pretty tolerable, as is Cameron Diaz.

The real star of the movie is the production itself. The sets are incredible, the battle scenes are brutal and wrenching. The problems lie in the story’s progression, which is uneven, and a few underpainted characters.

The best part is the sense, felt all through the film, that you’re watching a world you’ve never heard of… the kind that seldom makes it into the staid woodcuts of People of Note you get in the history books. Some of my own ancestors came out of New York immediately after the Civil War, and I’ve found my conception of the world in which they lived changed. It was a little disappointing to do the standard “post historical flick” Google crawl and learn how many liberties were taken, but still fascinating to have the images to hang on the parts we can accept as fact.

Scorsese’s gift for “doing badguys” shines through.

The amount of detail is overwhelming, and made it worthwhile as a “go to the theater” experience.

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