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25th
AUG

Gangs of New York

Posted by Player under Drama

Gangs Of New YorkFor many men, Martin Scorsese is one of the few directors that can truly capture the male experience, from the heart broken gambler in Casino, to the average kid turned wise guy in Good Fellas, to even the doubting Christ in The Last Temptation, so you can imagine my own personal expectations for such a grand epic as Gangs of New York, a film based on a novel by Herbert Asbury.

The film depicts the story of the Five Points, a neighborhood in New York which is the home to Irish immigrants and native New Yorkers, if you can truly apply any real signifigance to the word “native”, I guess. The conflicts are many, from religion, to social status, to ethnic background, to politics, and they all personify themselves in two men, Bill The Butcher, played by Daniel Day Lewis and Amsterdam, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Cameron Diaz plays Jenny, the love interest, but not necessarily a very crucial character in the story. The story is a classic tragedy, where The Butcher killed Amsterdam’s father in a gang battle, and 16 years later a grown up Amsterdam returns to The Five Points to avenge his father’s death and ends up becoming the adopted son and apprentice of his father’s killer. Eventually The Butcher learns of Amsterdam’s true history and there ensues an epic battle to the death.

Visually this film appears colorful and very detailed from the costumes to the sets, to even the backgrounds. Even though the film spans two DVD discs, the film seems though incomplete, or should I say disappointing in its ending climax. Gangs of New York simply has so much to tell, that even after a long duration, it still seems to come up short.

However the real center of attraction for this film is Daniel Day Lewis and his performance as Bill The Butcher. No other film captures such a complex and violent man as this, and when you stop to consider how ridiculous The Butcher looks in his costumes and mustache, you will appreciate Day-Lewis for such accurate and perfect execution of some of the best lines ever uttered by a villianous man. It is truly amazing.

Most Scorsese fans will end up watching this film regardless of the critics, because like most other Scorsese films, Gangs of New York depicts history more to true life than most other works. It shows the grit and grime, the blood and sweat, and the faults of men and women who were the foundation of a struggling and conflicted nation in its infancy. While it is more comforting to think that rich and clean men built this nation, Scorsese reminds us that our past is often darker than we care to remember it to be, that for every building that rises in the New York sky, thousands of men died and sufferred on that same very ground years ago.

4.5 out 5 stars

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