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Gangs of New York /

Rated: R

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Henry Thomas 

Directed by: Martin Scorsese 

Produced by: Harvey Weinstein, Alberto Grimaldi, Martin Scorsese 

Written by: Ken Lonergan, Steven Zallian, Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese, Kenneth Lonergan 

Distributor: Miramax Films


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York is technically well-done, but didn’t please me to the extent that I thought it would. The graphic battle scenes, which shape and mold it’s character, are there; but I wanted to see more of them. The thoughtful dialogue is only able to enlighten our minds for the first hour and a half, and after that; the entire picture starts to ware thin. For nearly two hours, it builds and builds, on word after word; but then doesn’t live up to its true potential. This is, by no means, anti-climatic, but we leave the theatre in a state of disappointment. After thoroughly analyzing the screenwriters’ options, I can say that there were several better endings that could’ve been made. I am pleased with what Gangs of New York has to offer, but it doesn’t live up to the hype that was circling around it prior to release. This is clearly a beautiful work, and I was moved by its excellent cinematography, costuming, and direction. But, I am saddened that it is only worth three-and a-half buckets, the equivalent of an A-. Scorsese films are usually onscreen knockouts, and easily earn four.

     The performances, aside from the direction and production, are probably the picture’s best asset. Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz give swift interpretations of their characters, and capture the clashing personalities with skill. DiCaprio isn’t very good alone, but when sharing the screen with Day-Lewis or Diaz; a giant fire ignites. He is one of the few, and talented, actors who knows how to work with others better than themselves. He proved this in Titanic, when doubling up with Kate Hudson, and in Catch Me If You Can, when taking on Tom Hanks. When his character is facing Day-Lewis, a native dignitary who killed his father; the two are a charismatic combination. They are able to show hatred for each other, which is accompanied by a strangely certain fondness. The two capture such an indefinite feeling; it makes us question their relationship fir the better. When DiCaprio is sharing a scene with Diaz; it is always, in some way, sexy. They might be Irish, poor, and living in the 1800’s, but we don’t care. The magic of this film is that it excels in so many areas.

     Before, I stated that this isn’t one of Scorsese’s best films. But, even so, Gangs of New York is truly masterful. His direction is crisp, and without flaw. He also co-wrote and co-produced the film; which is an extraordinary achievement. He swiftly brings the camera about each scene, with the utmost care. When viewing any of Scorsese’s films we sense his presence, because of the certainty in each movement that is made onscreen. Gangs of New York is one of purest films of the year, though it might not be one of the best. Most of this is made possible by the direction. This fact just goes to prove how good Scorsese is. This is a film that twists romance, battles, and authenticity together, and keeps a perfect mix. I don’t think that Gangs of New York deserves a ton of Oscar Nominations, but it definitely showcases the best direction of the year; and should be nominated accordingly. Imagine what Scorsese would be able to do with a screenplay of average difficulty to direct. He would sleepwalk through the role, and still, somehow, turn the film into a masterpiece. This is similar to what Spielberg did with DiCaprio’s other movie this year, Catch Me If You Can.

     Gangs of New York is, at times, masterful. It is also, at other times, not. I can’t say that it is as good as the normal Scorsese epic, but his previous works are some of the best films of all-time. Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Daniel Day-Lewis are excellent performers, and showcase their talents to the fullest in this film. The cinematography, by Michael Ballhaus, is beautifully done, and accompanies Scorsese’s direction wonderfully. The costume design, By Sandy Powell II, is great to look at; and is another honorable mention. I would have loved to see a giant and monstrous battle scene at the very end of the picture. But to follow the original story and keep some degree of historical authenticity, the resolution and climax were unchangeable. The film is – of course – beautiful to look at, but this doesn’t keep us entertained for the entire time. I was able to admire Gangs of New York more than I was able to enjoy it. If you love filmmaking, like me, this is definitely a movie for you. Others, including the casual movie-goer, are viewing it at their own risk. After the whopping two hours and forty-four minutes, a normal person’s attention span will have begun wear thin. I was moved by the material, and wanted more; to say the least. For me to say that the general public will like Gangs of New York, though, is tough. Fans of film should, without a doubt. But, if you don’t fall into that category, I suggest that you rent it; just in case you become bored out of your wits.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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