*** Official "GANGS OF NEW YORK" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Dec 19, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Gangs of New York". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    I have been eagerly awaiting this film for quite awhile, and caught an early showing today. My initial reaction is pretty conflicted.
    The prologue of the film features Liam Neeson as "Priest" Vallone, leader of immigrant gangs, facing off against the chief of the "Natives", Bill the Butcher. We're also introduced to Priest's young son, Amsterdam. This segment is promising, but once Leonardo DiCaprio (as a grown-up Amsterdam) appears, the film meanders without focus for over an hour (this is not meant as a DiCaprio bash - see below). I guess this fits Leo's character, who is supposed to be driven by revenge, but spends weeks or months biding his time in the close company of his father's killer, passing up endless opportunities to kill him.
    Finally Amsterdam's identity is revealed, and the film gets good. Fast. The last hour or so is spectacular - easily as good as anything I've seen this year. The final scene at the Five Points is vintage Scorsese - violent, visceral, and absolutely shattering. It's unfortunate that the early parts of the film don't seem to deserve this climax.
    Daniel Day-Lewis is, as advertised, amazing as Bill the Butcher. He towers over the film, literally & figuratively. DiCaprio is fine as Amsterdam. I've never doubted his acting prowess, although I'm not sure he has the physical presence to totally do justice to this role. The rest of the cast is good to great, especially Jim Broadbent, unrecognizable as Tammany Hall's infamous Boss Tweed.
    The production values are top notch. The cinematography, art direction & costuming are Oscar quality. The sound design is stunning - you will have to fight the impulse to duck as you hear cannonballs fly over your head during the final battle!
    Despite my misgivings, if you are any kind of a film buff you HAVE to see Gangs Of New York, if only for Day-Lewis' performance and the final act. Just be prepared for some tough sledding along the way.
     
  3. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

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    I thought it started very strongly and ended very strongly, and for that I enjoyed the film very much. It sways in the middle, but most of it seems pretty necessary. I really like what Scorsese does with film, and here is no exception. For some reason, the violence at the first part doesn't seem that extreme, however toward the end we can see that this is indeed a Scorsese film with his trademark graphically realistic violence.

    I give this 3 stars out of 4 stars.
     
  4. Lee J. Buividas

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    I saw this movie yesterday afternoon and agree with most of the above. Although I did not think this movie was too long. I feel it was about the right length to tell this story and what movie doesn't drag at times. I have to agree the first cannonball shot almost made me jump out of my seat. ha ha Probably would if I didn't have a couple shots of vodka in me. ha ha ha ha

    I am not a advocate drinking at all. especially driving, but I will say at least for me a couple of shots during a movie can sure help when it drags a bit. ha ha ha Yes we do have several theaters here that serve alcohol.

    All and all a must see movie and will win best picture at the academy awards this year although not my favorite movie this year as I don't have one.

    Lee J. Buividas
     
  5. Nathan V

    Nathan V Supporting Actor

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    3.999 stars (out of 4)

    Best film of the year for me, by a mile.
    The opening battle absolutely defies description; you can't not notice Schoonmaker's unbelievable editing here. This is now my favorite action sequence ever.
    Needless to say, that's not what makes this film great. It's the incredibly rich atmposphere that every scene is brimming with. Manhattan's Lower East Side was never portrayed like this before. Like other Scorsese films, plot is not the focus here; we care more about the place and the people; the seedy corruption and gritty violence that pervades the streets and thoughts of the characters.
    Something must be said about Daniel Day-Lewis's performance. I cannot convey how good it is. Every flick of his fingers, cock of his head, squint of his eyes- this is kind of role where you forget you're watching an actor. You feel as if you're seeing William Cutting himself. (btw, it's good to have a little historical background before seeing GONY, but it's not necessary ) This is comparable to Brando in The Godfather; people are going to talking about it for years. He is both the protagonist and antagonist of the film; he is the most developed character in the film. This role redefines 'chewing scenery.'
    The other actors are very good; the cast is quite impressive (L. Neeson, J.C. Reilly, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent among others).
    Scorsese's directorial flourishes are everywhere; there's simply too many to describe in detail here. Suffice to say that you'll know this is a Scorsese film from watching any five minutes of it.
    The requisite scorsese cameo is present, but very brief.
    A word of caution- this film is by no means for the squeamish; the feeling of tense hatred pervades the film (unlike, say, Casino), and when violent acts are shown onscreen, Scorsese doesn't hold back.
    Hats off to the set directors and costume designers. You can practically smell the dried blood and coastal air. The finale is remniscent of goodfellas in its use of subtitles.
    All in all, you couldn't spend 165 minutes better at the theatres at this time of year.

    My biggest worry was that Miramax would 'butcher (pun intended)' the film, but it didn't happen. Scorsese does have final cut. Anyway, it'd still be nice to get the 240 minute director's cut on DVD.
     
  6. MikeRS

    MikeRS Screenwriter

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    My second favorite film this year. Scorsese's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

    -BILL THE BUTCHER is as complex and iconic a screen presence as there has ever been in film history. He dominates the story like VADER in ESB. He's that good. Fascinating performance.

    -Leo was rock fucking solid. His is not the showy role, but he holds the screen whenever he is called upon. He is more audience surrogate than "star". Bill The Butcher is supposed to blow him off the screen. Butcher is like Henry Fonda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Leo is like Cheyenne and THE MAN put together. Fonda was the star of that picture, and Lewis' sinister (yet complex) menace likewise burns the screen like a supernova.

    -Cameron Diaz is perfectly cast. I was worried for some reason (even though she has usually been solid), but she was just right. Perfect mixture of feral survival and coquettish sexiness.

    -Every other role is dead-on casting-wise. Neeson, Reily, Gleeson, Broadbent, Thomas........Perfection

    It's about how violence went hand in had with the evolution of this country. It's start-off point being the racial tensions, xenophobia, class struggle, war, political violence and corruption , which together formed a savage American Quilt near the end of the 19th century. These brutal forces forged what became modern America. It's sick, but violence kick-starts the modern era. Scorsese places it here for us in all it's bloody glory. This is history. And what he paints is such a visceral picture that it riveted me from beginning to end. (DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE. There are no lulls in this wonderful narrative)

    But mostly this film is about fathers and sons. It's why I adore it and believe it will transcend this holiday season and become one of Scorsese's beloved films in his brilliant career. Trust me. This movie is going to hold up.

    To all the guys on this site, see it with a buddy. You will bond with Amsterdam's journey. This is not a Scorsese blip. It's a shining return to the top of his form. He's been dreaming of making this film for 25 years. While watching it, I thought the dream is real, and it kicks fucking ass. This is great American filmmaking, guys!

    BTW, The only thing that bugged me is that I could sense Harvey's fingers on the opening battle of the film. The graphic carnage was muffled by a strobing effect that is not Marty Scorsese. It might help it make it more accesible, but..................
     
  7. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    I thought the movie stunk. Big disappointment. Boring and with unintersesting characters that I didn't care about. Lewis was good but his character didn't make any sense. He hates the Irish with a white-hot passion then takes one under his wing, yeah, right. That is plot-driven writing. While watching Lewis I kept thinking about how good Last of The Mohicans was, not a good thing to think of one picture while watching another.

    The "police radio" narration during the riot was stupid, anachranistic and distracting.

    Not enough attention was paid to the day-to-day mechanics of the rackets these gangs were involved in. I've read about the real Dead Rabbits, Plug Uglys, Whyos and such and this picture would have been alot more interesting had it shown their rackets.

    I was looking forward to seeing this picture and I really wanted to like it but I swear it's a stinker and a snoozer. I almost fell asleep a couple of times, that's never happened to me before at a Scorcese picture. Well all the great directors have had their stinkers and better directors than Scorcese have made terrible pictures.
     
  8. Guy_K

    Guy_K Second Unit

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    I give this film [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] /4. Day-Lewis is more than oscar-worthy here. Despite being a violent guy, we sympathize with the character. I found the final sequences are moving and amazing (the radio voice over was a bit ridiculous though). I have to say though, I was quite dissapointed with much of the film, I sort of got bored throughout it, and really didn't enjoy the music at all.
     
  9. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    I usually don't like films set in the 18th and 19th century, but Martin Scorsese made New York City during the Civil War come alive and accessible.

    The perfomances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio are top notch, and the supporting cast does very well in this drama. The direction and camerawork is also very very well done. For a film that runs over 160 minutes, it moves pretty briskly because of the interaction between characters is very compelling to watch. Films like this scream to be seen on the big screen at the theater. There are minor quibbles to be found in the film (pacing and progression of the plot can be a little too pragmatic if you scrutinize it really closely), but the emotions it evokes from the audience is undeniable. There are quite a few very powerful scenes that have good build-up and the resolutions are never quite what you expect.

    I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
     
  10. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    The greatest attribute about Gangs of New York is that it takes one of the ugliest, unsavory and savage moments in America's history and turns it into a beacon of understanding. It doesn't cast judgement on the actions of those who lived, prospered or perished during the unrest of the Civil War. It simply lowers a camera into the midst of the darkness and what emerges is some of the most brilliant work Scorsese has ever done. The opening and finishing sequences are flat out amazing.
    While the film in and of itself is a marvel and goes down as the best film I've seen to date (this year), I can't imagine Gangs of New York without Daniel Day-Lewis. He has reached beyond the realm of acting here. He has gone beyond mortal abilities. He simply is Bill the Butcher. His portrayal of Butcher is in the pantheon of Peter Finch in "Network". A one-time, not to be duplicated, couldn't be done better performance. Like Finch, Lewis was in an entirely different universe as the rest of the cast. How menacing, how chilling, how warm..how absolutely divine. Here is your Best Actor.
    What ends up being ironic is the rest of the cast is very, very good. Jim Broadbent again brought his A-game and he proves yet again just how under-rated he is. Marvelous performance. DiCaprio is also quite remarkable. He was perhaps a tad off in the anger and dramatic sense, but he was still a force whenever he was onscreen. Cameron Diaz turns in a good, if not necessarily overpowering, performance that I hope leads to more work in dramatic roles.
    A final summation is that GONY is a tough, gritty, often violent and unapologizing film. It shows us at our worst, and at our best. It's a human film that strives for us to be more than human, to lead those who would follow, to instill belief in those seeking faith and to carry the torches of morality and redemption, so that they may forge a future where we can learn from the wrongs and adopt the rights.
    Gangs of New York [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Bruce
     
  11. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of 4
    Day Lewis was freaking amazing and Leo wasnt bad (although he sometimes forgot he was supposed to be speaking with a accent).
    Beautiful to look at and great score.
    Oh and the "Kill Bill" trailer was awesome.[​IMG]
     
  12. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of 4.
    Gritty, very disturbing, at times horrorfying, masterful at times, ...loses it's way little, returns to its focus, then brutal.
    Daniel Day Lewis either gets the Oscar for this or I'm never watching the Academy again. [​IMG] He had me hating him, aweing him, beginning to like him, then just accept who he is. Wow. Knockout performance. Leonardo was also very good. Very easily could have screwed this up by casting him. But I think we need to give this man his due, that's to be considered a serious actor. He's good in this.
    Like others have said in this thread and the other discussion thread; don't expect cartoon violence or fairy tale feel good. Just expect the brutality of our nation back then. It seems that MS held nothing back.
     
  13. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Like the time the film portrays, this film is a tapestry. It is a sprawling, gripping, impressive movie.
    As Scorsese is my 2nd favorite director of all time, this film was a real gift. I didn't have that much enjoyment at the movies since... well, since I saw Lord of the Rings. Ok, but still, it was good. [​IMG]
    Leo's performance was solid, Lewis was brilliant. The most enjoyable performances were the collective of the supporting cast. A lot of colorful but human characters, along with the typically brilliant Scorsese cinematography, creates an wonderful cinematic experience.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  14. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    A few thoughts...
    • I had tremendous expectations after the (amazing) opening sequence of the film, but I was disappointed by the remainder of it.
    • Daniel Day Lewis was utterly mesmerizing; there aren't enough superlatives to commend his performance. He inhabits the character. I could care less if he wins an Oscar, the performance speaks for itself as the finest of the year by anyone.
    • Cameron Diaz's role felt tacked-on and unessential.
    • Ultimately, the narrative didn't swell to the climax, it had too many peaks and valleys. I felt as though I was watching several episodes of a mini-series and the film's momentum didn't sustain itself for me.
    • In sum, I recognize Scorsese's achievement here, I just wasn't entertained enough.
    • Hopefully, before they tear down the sets of 19th century New York, they'll make a quick deal for a film version of The Alienist.
      Happy holidays...
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Gangs of New York
    9 of 10
    This film has inside of it one of the greatest films ever made. But it is cut/directed in such a schizophrenic mess that it ends up just being a good film. The acting is stellar and Lewis seems certain of a Best Actor win, not just nom. DeCaprio is just as strong in this film as Catch Me, the kid is a great actor, period. All of the supporting work is also incredible - Diaz, Broadbent, Reilly, Neeson, Brendon Gleeson, and others.
    The production work is also top notch. You could not get more immersed in the era. You are there, the actors are these people, but the themes and storylines get mixed up. The film has a real focus problem.
    Personally, I suspect that Harvey wanted a revenge/gangster flick (which the first 2/3rd mostly are) but that Scorsese had more interest in telling a historical epic with less focus on just the Lewis/DeCaprio thread. Unfortunately the film ends up touching on each of these (adding in the Diaz/DeCaprio romance) too much to have a consistent flow.
    I would have rather the first 2 hours been more in line with the last 25 minutes to be honest. I would love to see some other cuts of this film because I can see it being reworked in a number of quite different ways.
    Some more discussion I left out of the 2002 film thread. I thought the visuals were at times spectacular, such as the overhead shot of the one gangster making a run at the troops near the end. I also thought the still photos of soldiers being killed in the war was a powerful moment. Perhaps that was what was most frustrating, seeing a few moments of great Scorsese flash through yet having most of the film feeling almost non-Scorsese in style.
    I didn't see the classic camera movement or choice of shots that have made all his other films visual masterpieces. Not that things ever looked bad, but too often the film's shot selection is just painfully plain, as is the editing. Too many moments plod along rather than having that wonderful flow that Scorsese films normally have.
    I also thought that some of the music was just wrong. Too modern at times. And while I love Shore's LOTR work, it unfortunately slipped through a couple of times into his GONY work. Not greatly, but I noticed before I knew it was Shore (didn't know till the credits).
    I thought the end credits and song were OUTSTANDING. I do love a director who can end with a specific vision that ties strongly to the final resolution theme and wrap up everything you have just seen. The only problem here was that I really hadn't quite seen what these credits implied that I had (because they were so good and dramatic) but I sure wished I had. [​IMG]
     
  16. Joel Turpin

    Joel Turpin Agent

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    Wow.

    This was one powerful film, ranking right up there with the best stuff Scorsese has ever done.
    It may not have had all of the style of a Goodfellas, but the overall feel was such a visceral punch in the gut...
    There were no sections of the film which really dragged for me, and I was pleasantly surprised by all of the performances, from the spot-on role players to Leo's solid turn. Even my biggest worry, Cameron Diaz, held up remarkably well.
    Regarding Daniel Day Lewis, I'll leave the platitudes to those who can express it better. Leave it at a resounding agreement to any and all who wish to see this man holding a golden statuette come Oscar time.
    I think what impressed me most was his willingness to capture a time and place with such attention to squalid detail. Shows a lot of "sand" to film such brutality against minorities in this politically correct age, without dropping to an overt level of sermonizing. It simply was, and the viewer is intelligent enough to distinguish right from wrong.

    9.5 out of 10 - Will surely hold a spot in my top 5 come the end of the year.

    Joel
     
  17. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Gangs of New York had all the makings of a great film, but it falls short. Perhaps Scorsese did want to make a historical epic. Perhaps he couldn't for whatever reason. What he ended up with is a too-familiar revenge story surrounded by the finest production design money can buy. It's that craftsmanship, along with several of the performances, that keep this movie afloat - the story itself is...well, what was it about? Oh yeah, some guy wants to avenge his father's death. Yawn.
    Daniel Day-Lewis is superb as Bill the Butcher, though at times you can just see pieces of the scenery in his great mustache. Still, for the most part, he caps this flamboyant and unforgettable performance with just the right amount of restraint. Jim Broadbent, solid and understated as the oily Boss Tweed, was easily his equal. Leonardo DeCaprio was fine, but he really didn't make that much of an impression. I suppose it's hard to compete with old lions like Lewis and Broadbent. Cameron Diaz was her usual mega-attractive self even though her role was essentially superfluous. Was there a love interest clause in Scorsese's contract?
    Martin Scorsese has skillfully captured the look and spirit of a particular era, and on that level the film succeeds. If the story had been more original and compelling, Gangs of New York would have been one of his finest motion pictures.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Very sorry for the double post...see below [​IMG]
    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  19. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Always a step behind Seth:
     
  20. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Gangs Of New York – This Year’s Gladiator?
    Certainly, one can make comparisons to 2000’s Gladiator to the extent of its revenge story. In both films, a father figure and a close family die early on. The one with the greatest loss is banished for quite sometime only to return later on to avenge the death of their loved one. Meanwhile, a woman is thrown into the mix, who serves as a love interest between the two protagonists. While the villain gets an opportunity to kill the avenger in the middle of the film, he doesn’t because we know that the all-too-requisite showdown has to occur at the very end. Sounds familiar?
    Still, I wonder, how the Gladiator (which I enjoyed by the way) detractors are now taking this virtually alike revenge stories to which that picture has been criticized for? Maybe they’ll be a little kinder as the name Martin Scorsese is attached to the project. Nonetheless, that is where the similarities end.
    Scorsese’s film works better as a historical account of early New York City than a revenge story. This is where, for me, the film worked. It earns high grades for getting the atmosphere right as the production values are top notch. The performances are good within the realm of the story. (But one has to wonder what purpose Cameron Diaz’s character served in the entire film.)
    An enjoyable film but not quite the masterpiece.
    ~Edwin
     

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