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#1
Old 02-11-2013, 07:49 PM
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Why does "Gangs of New York" fall short of being a great movie? Or your counter-arguments?

I saw Scorsese's Gangs of New York when it first hit theaters.
I remember that I liked plenty about it, but felt that ultimately it did not deliver the goods.

I hadn't watched it since, but I saw the Bluray for less than $10 so I figured I'd pick it up. It's just as I remembered. I liked plenty about it, but felt that ultimately it did not deliver the goods.

Where does it fall short?
I remember hating the accents from DiCaprio and Diaz, upon rewatching I actually retract that criticism. The fact that we don't know what their accents really would have sounded like (being a "transitional" generation between immigrant and American) makes it easy enough for me to just accept the accents the actors are using.

DiCaprio's performance isn't great, but it's good. I'd say the same thing about Diaz- though I may knock her down from "good" to "adequate". Daniel Day Lewis's performance is awesome, possibly the best thing about the movie (easily the best performance) yet the awesome performance does not elevate the other elements.

I really think it's just not a very good script. It's ultimately a simple revenge drama- DiCaprio's character has one simple unwavering motivation throughout so any attempts in the storytelling to fashion a Hamlet-like paralysis just come off as fabricated and get in the way. Why all the pretense in what ought to be a simple revenge drama? I think it's clear that Scorsese and the trio of screenwriters were desperately trying not to make a simple revenge drama. They were aiming for allegory. This was not to simply be the story of Amsterdam Vallon and Bill the Butcher, this was to be a story about America, a story about America growing up and taking form, maturing and coming out in a way that made turning back the tide impossible.

So much of how the story is delivered makes me feel like I'm watching something that is supposed to be a grand allegory but it simply does not deliver.

Also to the script's discredit: think about how great a character Bill the Butcher is, think about how awesome Daniel Day Lewis' performance is, now think of all Bill the Butcher's best quotable lines. There really aren't any. There are pretty much no memorable lines or scenes of dialog from this movie at all. Imagine Daniel Day Lewis as that character with some actual words to wrap his mouth around. That may have been too much awesomeness to handle!

Scorsese spent 30 years, 30 years, developing this movie. I think the problem was that he knew so passionately that he wanted to do a film in this setting but he just never came up with a story to go in that setting. He handles the setting beautifully. The actual set pieces are full-on masterpieces. He does and excellent job of conveying just how very divided the whole country was about the Civil War- that it was not simply a North/South divide. But he doesn't really succeed in telling a story about America.

Anyway, I've only just now watched it for the second time in 10 years. I'll be interested in what others here have to say.
#2
Old 02-11-2013, 08:15 PM
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Too rambling.

Not enough exposition about the NYC of the 1840s-1860s.

The characters were too polarized; watching it you'd think everybody who lived there was either rich or "You lived in a hollow shell of a building with 3,000 other immigrants? Luxury! We lived in a hollowed out horse carcass with a dead whore as a roof, and that's when we could afford it!" impoverished immigrant. Bill the Butcher is presumably rich by the standards of Five Points and even he lives in near squalor.

Too much presentism.

Too long.

Presumably this is an open spoiler thread, but if not

Open Spoilers

There's a scene in which Cameron Diaz's character undresses enough to reveal she has had a botched C-section. She also has washboard abs. This sets off a chain reaction of "taking you out of the moments", and while that's a particularly egregious one there were lots of moments like that which just rang false.

Last edited by Sampiro; 02-11-2013 at 08:17 PM.
#3
Old 02-11-2013, 08:29 PM
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The only hope I had for the movie, being as I am disinclined to enjoy Scorsese's, DiCaprio's, and Diaz's works in general, was for Day-Lewis to be worth watching.

Alas, while there are many parts that a guy like Day-Lewis could make superbly over-the-top, IMHO Bill the Butcher was just a lot of scenery-chewing with a top hat. His whole group looked like one of the gangs from The Warriors.
#4
Old 02-11-2013, 08:33 PM
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Scorsese is severely over-rated. I saw it with low expections, which he met.
#5
Old 02-11-2013, 08:36 PM
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The East was wilder than the West. That's a point that I'm willing to accept and would love to sit in a theater and move around in that world.

Daniel Day Lewis, like a good Western hero or villan, played it larger than life. Everybody else though? Some hits there but more misses.

So what would John Ford have done? Obviously, he would have Irished the living fuck out of it, but he'd also cut what didn't serve. Plenty of room for humor and sentimentality and big themes, but avoiding what John Huston called the metaphysical shithouse.
#6
Old 02-11-2013, 09:04 PM
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I remember the movie had a lot of interesting things but:

1, the casting of Leonardo turned it into a farce in some ways. He seems like a kid playing dress up, nowhere near the same league as his "nemesis" Daniel Day Lewis. Same deal with Cameron Diaz. It felt like they were going for the teen audience first and foremost.

2, There were too many faux-symbolic sequences intended to "teach a lesson about America", which made it seem like the story couldn't stand on its own and speak for itself. That kind of stuff might go over better with overseas audiences.
#7
Old 02-11-2013, 09:18 PM
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I can't take Leonardo DiCaprio seriously in anything other than 'Catch Me if you Can'.
#8
Old 02-11-2013, 09:21 PM
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I don't remember much about the movie, which means it was meh to me. From what I do remember:

For a movie about draft riots that really had racism at its core ("We ain't fightin' to free no...") there were painfully few African American characters. I think the only black character had no lines, or am I misremebering? Anyway, the movie left out a whole dimension of history by doing that.

Some of the fight scenes used jerky fast motion. Trying to be stylistic, I suppose. But it really just looked stupid.

Leonardo DiCaprio just flat out sucked. Period. I do not see the appeal of that guy.
#9
Old 02-11-2013, 09:28 PM
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I had written out a bunch of things, but ultimately, its like a lot of loose parts hung together. Individually, they're interesting, but together, they're just a big mess.
#10
Old 02-11-2013, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post

There's a scene in which Cameron Diaz's character undresses enough to reveal she has had a botched C-section. She also has washboard abs. This sets off a chain reaction of "taking you out of the moments", and while that's a particularly egregious one there were lots of moments like that which just rang false.
A similar thing that bugged me (and, I think, lends some credence to LC Strawhouse's first observation) is when DiCaprio gets a hot poker jammed in his face. Plot wise, this was done specifically to "mess up his good looks," but the makeup effect they used to show the burn didn't look messed up at all. It looked like he'd fallen asleep at his desk with his face resting on a paperweight. Aside from robbing the scene of the branding of a lot of its emotional weight (since the result was so mild), it made it feel like the film was prioritizing having a pretty face in the lead above dramatic and realistic concerns.
#11
Old 02-11-2013, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
Too rambling.

Not enough exposition about the NYC of the 1840s-1860s.

The characters were too polarized; watching it you'd think everybody who lived there was either rich or "You lived in a hollow shell of a building with 3,000 other immigrants? Luxury! We lived in a hollowed out horse carcass with a dead whore as a roof, and that's when we could afford it!" impoverished immigrant. Bill the Butcher is presumably rich by the standards of Five Points and even he lives in near squalor.

Too much presentism.

Too long.
Yep, all of that.

I'd also add that the opening street fight set an insanely great tone and energy for the film.... and then never did anything like that again in the whole movie.
#12
Old 02-11-2013, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
I had written out a bunch of things, but ultimately, its like a lot of loose parts hung together. Individually, they're interesting, but together, they're just a big mess.
Agreed. It's one of those films that's somehow less than the sum of its parts. If I had to pin it on one thing, it would probably be the DiCaprio and Diaz casting. DiCaprio, especially, never looks right to me in period roles, with the possible exception of Django Unchained.

Last edited by Rollo Tomasi; 02-11-2013 at 10:20 PM.
#13
Old 02-11-2013, 10:24 PM
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The people looked way to much like modern actors dressed up in period garb rather than actual 19th Century people. This was not the case in comparable movies such as Glory.

Similarly, way too many people behaved in ways that struck me as unlike the way they would have behaved back then.
#14
Old 02-11-2013, 10:47 PM
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I was a bit offput by the civil war happening in the background but who cares about that shit, man, this is about NEW YORK and that's the only important place on Earth, man!

As bad were the trailers that said "America was born... in the streets!" as though this pointlessly violent squabble among a bunch of dirt-poor dumbass thugs was the crucible of the nation while the Civil War was happening in the background.

If I loved New York and had a number of romantic notions about it being the center of the universe, I expect I'd feel differently.
#15
Old 02-12-2013, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
I was a bit offput by the civil war happening in the background but who cares about that shit, man, this is about NEW YORK and that's the only important place on Earth, man!

As bad were the trailers that said "America was born... in the streets!" as though this pointlessly violent squabble among a bunch of dirt-poor dumbass thugs was the crucible of the nation while the Civil War was happening in the background.

If I loved New York and had a number of romantic notions about it being the center of the universe, I expect I'd feel differently.
Since my primary criticism was aimed at the script, I'll at least credit that the Civil War happening in the background was kind of the point of the story being told here.

Southern Secession was a major test of how America was to be defined. The conclusion of the Civil War firmly established that America is one country and that no specifics of local interests will ever trump allegiance to the union of the United States as a single country.

The gangs of Five Points had a naively myopic view of the world. Basically, their neighborhood was the center of their universe and they took no notice of anything happening outside a radius of a few blocks. If the Civil War is mentioned at all within the neighborhood, it is addressed with disdain in a "that's got nothing to do with me" manner.

The first day of the draft riots, the gangs are preparing for their battle the next day- uninterested or oblivious to the big picture. On the second day of the riots, the gangs show up for their appointed brawl as if it's just any other regular day.

We the audience are supposed to recognize how clueless they are, and how pathetically petty they are to think their local squabbles count for anything in the grand scheme of things. The Civil War was raging and would soon establish once and for all an undisputed national identity that would supercede all local interests. We would be Americans first, all our various subcultures would only amount to "local flavor".

Again, I don't think the film delivers very strongly as an allegory but this basic point is reasonably well-made I think. Having the Civil War happen "in the background" is a central commentary on the worldview of the main characters.
#16
Old 02-12-2013, 07:51 AM
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Rambling, pointless, and barely describing the conditions people actually lived in. A completely forgettable film IMHO. It attempts to make the course of life remarkable to people for whom it was ordinary at the time.
#17
Old 02-12-2013, 09:01 AM
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I think I broadly agree with where you're coming from. It felt like to me they were trying to pack a lot of stuff into a movie. An HBO miniseries in the vein of Deadwood or Boardwalk Empire, with the set piece fight scenes as the highlights, would have been more appropriate I think, although there's probably only enough material there for 1 season at best.

It *has* been a while since I've seen it, I might give it another go now that I've read this thread.
#18
Old 02-12-2013, 09:55 AM
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I had read Gangs of New York, and a few other books on 19th century New York, and was eagerly awaiting the movie. I was disappointed. Why? Aside from Daniel Day-Lewis, no one captured the kind of larger than life characters that these people were supposed to have been. This was a dangerous time and place, more violent than the "wild" west, but what we got was the theme park version. The revenge plot seemed trivial, an afterthought included only to give the characters something to do. There are plenty of gangster movies and westerns with lower stakes and more emotional weight. Scorsese wasn't willing to risk a real movie about feral Victorians.
#19
Old 02-12-2013, 10:06 AM
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I can't take Leonardo DiCaprio seriously in anything other than 'Catch Me if you Can'.
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Originally Posted by Two Many Cats View Post
Leonardo DiCaprio just flat out sucked. Period. I do not see the appeal of that guy.
He was good in This Boy's Life., with Robert DeNiro.
#20
Old 02-12-2013, 10:22 AM
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I still think it's a very good movie. But I don't consier it "great" like Goodfellas and Casino. Same thing with The Departed. I don't blame DiCaprio. There's just something about the pacing and character development of both films that seemed a bit forced somehow. Almost like Scorsese was trying to make some grand point or statement but didn't have enough movie to do it in.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo Tomasi
DiCaprio, especially, never looks right to me in period roles, with the possible exception of Django Unchained.
Possibly because DiCaprio seems most natural when he's playing someone more boyish and mischieviously charming. Like in Titanic or Catch Me if You Can. I don't necessarily buy him as a morose badass.
#21
Old 02-12-2013, 11:03 AM
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Geez, from this thread you'd never guess the movie was nominated for 10 Oscars (including Best Picture) and won 6.

I think it's a fine film.
#22
Old 02-12-2013, 01:51 PM
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Geez, from this thread you'd never guess the movie was nominated for 10 Oscars (including Best Picture) and won 6.
Funny, when they're not part of a 10, your zeros look an awful lot like sixes.



Chicago won 6 that year, maybe that's what you were thinking of?

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 02-12-2013 at 01:55 PM.
#23
Old 02-12-2013, 03:36 PM
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None of the actions of any of the characters made any sense.
In the opening scene Priest takes his kid to a gang fight.
Leo wants to kill Bill but will only do it onstage. If he really was after revenge he would kill him the first time he got the chance.
Bill lets Leo get close even though he knows Leo is Irish and he hates the Irish.
After the failed attempt instead of killing Leo Bill wounds him and lets him live.
After the Irish guy wins the election Bill murders him in broad daylight and nothing happens to him.

As others have already said it is supposed to feel epic, but is just about one person's revenge even though the main character never acts like he wants revenge.
#24
Old 02-12-2013, 03:45 PM
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I noticed that too, didn't Bill catch Leo fooling around? And didn't immediately attack him? Not everyone would, of course, especially with regards to a close associate, but it seemed out of character for him.
#25
Old 02-12-2013, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
There's a scene in which Cameron Diaz's character undresses enough to reveal she has had a botched C-section. She also has washboard abs. This sets off a chain reaction of "taking you out of the moments", and while that's a particularly egregious one there were lots of moments like that which just rang false.
I really liked Gangs of New York, but this scene always felt off. Thank you for finally making me realize why.
#26
Old 02-12-2013, 03:54 PM
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None of the actions of any of the characters made any sense.
In the opening scene Priest takes his kid to a gang fight.
Leo wants to kill Bill but will only do it onstage. If he really was after revenge he would kill him the first time he got the chance.
Bill lets Leo get close even though he knows Leo is Irish and he hates the Irish.
After the failed attempt instead of killing Leo Bill wounds him and lets him live.
After the Irish guy wins the election Bill murders him in broad daylight and nothing happens to him.

As others have already said it is supposed to feel epic, but is just about one person's revenge even though the main character never acts like he wants revenge.

What doesn't make sense?

Priest Vallen was teaching his kid about the importance of fighting for your family/home/clan.

"Gang code". Amsterdam specifically says "you kill a king in his court for all to see". Aside from having to work himself up to killing someone, the whole point was he wasn't going to avenge and honor his father by assassinating Bill in some cowardly fashion.

Bill doesn't hate the "Irish". He hates off the boat immigrants. Amsterdam is second or third generation. Plus he likes his inginuity and badassness.

Again, that's "gang code" dude. Amsterdam isn't some ignorant Irish underpeon in some bungled assassination attempt. He's the great Priest Vallen's son! The son of the guy whose picture they toast every year on the aniversity of his defeat. It's clear that Bill respected Vallon. And remember he's big on the "spectacle of fearsome acts". Bill wants to kill the son of Vallen in a great battle as a worthy adversary and thus strengthen his power.

Whose going to arrest Bill the Butcher? Happy Jack Mulraney? Boss Tweed? Everyone is either on his payroll or needs his muscle.

Last edited by msmith537; 02-12-2013 at 03:55 PM.
#27
Old 02-12-2013, 05:28 PM
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Part of the problem, I think, was that the book was not a work of fiction but a well-documented history not only of the Civil War era but from the earliest days of the settlement to the 1920s. It was within this context that Scorsese had to build a story, and he chose three of the book's most colorful characters to do it. It wasn't as though the dramatic narrative had already been written and was just waiting to be turned into a film.

Something similar happened with Titanic: I've heard many people criticize James Cameron's Romeo-and-Juliet story, but without it (or some other human interest story) the film would have been just another documentary.

Last edited by terentii; 02-12-2013 at 05:29 PM.
#28
Old 02-12-2013, 05:47 PM
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A historical inaccuracy that bothered me for the pointlessness of it: the movie portrays Barnum's Museum burning to the ground. IRL this happened the summer after the Civil War ended, then the rebuilt museum burned down three years later.

It was curious to me why an expensive scene that was only a minute or so was filmed when not only was it not historically accurate but it wasn't at all necessary to the plot.

My main takeaway from the movie was that I thought DDL's voice was brilliant; you could hear the beginnings of the stock "New York accent" in it. (Yes, I know there are many NYC accents, but, he did a great reverse engineering job of one.) Though come to think of it, he did sound a tad like Peter Falk in some scenes as well.
#29
Old 02-12-2013, 05:48 PM
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I thought it pretentious:
-it didn't follow the book at all (Butcher Bill died LONG before the Civil War)
-DiCaprio's character was pretty flat
It did capture the ugliness, dirt and general horror of 19th century NYC life.-it made me thankful that I live in the 21st Century.
One thing that interested me-the "Old Brewery" at the Five Points: I once read that when the building was demolished (in the 1890's), over 25 skeletons were found buried in the walls, floors, etc. Scarey stuff!
#30
Old 02-12-2013, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Funny, when they're not part of a 10, your zeros look an awful lot like sixes.
My mistake. Don't know how I misread that. But the ten nominations are still there.

And while we're looking at IMDb, we might also notice that Gangs of New York has a 7.5 rating from 190,727 viewers, and a metascore of 72/100 from critics.
#31
Old 02-12-2013, 06:03 PM
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My mistake. Don't know how I misread that. But the ten nominations are still there.

And while we're looking at IMDb, we might also notice that Gangs of New York has a 7.5 rating from 190,727 viewers, and a metascore of 72/100 from critics.
Not to seem like I'm picking on you, but 7.5 out of 10 and 72 out of 100 are both a C grade in my book. The question of the thread is not "Why is Gangs of New York such an awful movie?" It's "why does it fall short of being a great movie?" I'd say those numbers simply support that position.
#32
Old 02-12-2013, 07:38 PM
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One thing that interested me-the "Old Brewery" at the Five Points: I once read that when the building was demolished (in the 1890's), over 25 skeletons were found buried in the walls, floors, etc. Scarey stuff!
The Old Brewery was demolished in 1853, or, about 10 years before the events of the film take place. It was replaced by a Methodist church and mission which had a school and a bathhouse as well as low income housing. Need proof? Original New York Times article about the dedication of the mission, June 17, 1853. Perhaps you are thinking of a different building.

The article also says the the Old Brewery was "tolerably purged of crime, and was the habitation merely of misery" in the time before it's demolition.

Last edited by Hello Again; 02-12-2013 at 07:39 PM.
#33
Old 02-13-2013, 02:06 AM
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Not to seem like I'm picking on you, but 7.5 out of 10 and 72 out of 100 are both a C grade in my book. The question of the thread is not "Why is Gangs of New York such an awful movie?" It's "why does it fall short of being a great movie?" I'd say those numbers simply support that position.
You can't convert IMDB scores into letter grades like that. The Top 250 is rated 8.0-9.2 (with more 8.0s than anything else) and Gangs of New York is in their Top 5000. It is considered one of the best movies on the site, at a tier below the all-time classics.
#34
Old 02-13-2013, 09:01 AM
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at a tier below the all-time classics.
Again: supports the thesis of the OP.
#35
Old 02-13-2013, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
The question of the thread is not "Why is Gangs of New York such an awful movie?"
Have you read the actual posts in this thread (to which I was responding)?

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Scorsese is severely over-rated. I saw it with low expections, which he met.
Quote:
the casting of Leonardo turned it into a farce in some ways.
Quote:
Rambling, pointless, and barely describing the conditions people actually lived in. A completely forgettable film IMHO. It attempts to make the course of life remarkable to people for whom it was ordinary at the time.
Quote:
The only hope I had for the movie, being as I am disinclined to enjoy Scorsese's, DiCaprio's, and Diaz's works in general, was for Day-Lewis to be worth watching.

Alas, while there are many parts that a guy like Day-Lewis could make superbly over-the-top, IMHO Bill the Butcher was just a lot of scenery-chewing with a top hat. His whole group looked like one of the gangs from The Warriors.
That last quote might look familiar.
#36
Old 02-13-2013, 01:09 PM
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I agree that GoNY isn't on the top tier of cinema but it has some top tier aspects:

The march to the fight and beginning of the fight at the start of the movie is an amazing scene. One of the decades best.

The bar band singing NY Girls. I love music played live in movies and this was a perfect example.

Bill the Butcher. Sure DDL was chewing some scenery. All the great ones do. Some of the best performances of all time are actors really going out there.

Thats off the top of my head. Now I don't think GoNY did anything wrong (most good historical fiction fudges timelines, facts etc.) And if you don't like the actors, that is your personal preference.
I just think that it was a great movie. I don't know what could have put it with the best of all time. Abstraction? Adding stuff would just be speculation.

But do people actually think it would have been better if a different group of actors played the roles? Or if the timeline was to the letter?
#37
Old 02-13-2013, 02:16 PM
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Have you read the actual posts in this thread (to which I was responding)?
My only real argument I had was with your original, acknowledged-to-be-erroneous claim that it won 6 Oscars. Everything else is quibbles that I have no interest in bickering over.

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That last quote might look familiar.
It does, thanks!
#38
Old 02-13-2013, 02:33 PM
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The historical accuracy or lack thereof was pretty irrelevant to the movie. The events of the movie were a hash up of things that really happened over the course of two decades, but that's not very important. I was just correcting the misinformation stated in ralphs post.

For me, the real issue with this movie is that it doesn't connect with and move me. That's why it is basically boring. It has a lot of action but no reason to care. A lot of incredible set pieces but no reason to care. DDL has a particular ability to let humanity shine through the most unrelatable characters and even he falls a hair short in this case. Diaz & Dicaprio..... Don't and they fall way way way short of the mark. They appear to be in a completely different movie.

Last edited by Hello Again; 02-13-2013 at 02:35 PM.
#39
Old 02-13-2013, 03:02 PM
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What doesn't make sense?

Priest Vallen was teaching his kid about the importance of fighting for your family/home/clan.

"Gang code". Amsterdam specifically says "you kill a king in his court for all to see". Aside from having to work himself up to killing someone, the whole point was he wasn't going to avenge and honor his father by assassinating Bill in some cowardly fashion.

Bill doesn't hate the "Irish". He hates off the boat immigrants. Amsterdam is second or third generation. Plus he likes his inginuity and badassness.

Again, that's "gang code" dude. Amsterdam isn't some ignorant Irish underpeon in some bungled assassination attempt. He's the great Priest Vallen's son! The son of the guy whose picture they toast every year on the aniversity of his defeat. It's clear that Bill respected Vallon. And remember he's big on the "spectacle of fearsome acts". Bill wants to kill the son of Vallen in a great battle as a worthy adversary and thus strengthen his power.

Whose going to arrest Bill the Butcher? Happy Jack Mulraney? Boss Tweed? Everyone is either on his payroll or needs his muscle.
Taking a snakk child to a gang fight to watch people being beaten to death is not teaching importance of fighting for your clan, it is just weird. No one else brings their kids and presumably he can wait til after puberty to teach him to rumble.
Gang code is totally made up and arbitrary. Amsterdam tries to shoot him while Bill is drinking a toast. How is that not cowardly? Bill even makes a speech about how Amsterdam has no heart.
The gang code about sparing Amsterdam makes no sense either. Bill has been trying to keep the dead rabbits down in any way possible. Yet he spares the son of the last leader so he can have a huge rumble. He then sends the sherriff to kill him in the church.
The gang code serves the purpose of postponing the conflicts til it is convenient for the story, but makes no logical sense is not how any actual criminals work.
#40
Old 02-13-2013, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
Taking a snakk child to a gang fight to watch people being beaten to death is not teaching importance of fighting for your clan, it is just weird. No one else brings their kids and presumably he can wait til after puberty to teach him to rumble.
What are you talking about? Street gangs today have children that young in their ranks, and regularly expose them to incredible levels of violence. The only thing that's really changed is the popular perception that children should be protected from that sort of thing. During the period in which the movie was set? There were kids that age in uniform on the battlefields of the Civil War. Reforms in the British navy had recently changed the minimum age of enlistment for midshipmen to fourteen - in the prior century, it had been eleven. And midshipman was an officer rank. And that's just military life - children that age and younger were also working in dangerous conditions in factories and mines.

Quote:
Gang code is totally made up and arbitrary.
Yes, it is, but that doesn't mean it's not a real thing. History is full of bizarre codes of conduct dictating how and when it's appropriate to commit murder. Chivalry, bushido, holmgang, code duello - these are all ways that society formalized their idea of ways it was appropriate for their member to commit violence on each other. Street codes are the same thing, a "downstairs" version of the systems of honor and revenge perpetuated by the ruling class.
#41
Old 02-13-2013, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Typo Negative View Post
I can't take Leonardo DiCaprio seriously in anything other than 'Catch Me if you Can'.
Ditto.
#42
Old 02-14-2013, 02:17 AM
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Well, for me, it's Cameron Diaz who sucks the most ass in the movie. Leo, well he comes in a close second.


What is really wrong with the movie, is that this is Mr. Scorsese's 9/11 film. The addition of the twin towers at the end earmarks this as a sort of twisted valentine/remembrance card for NYC.


(grrr hate the fact that the pronunciation of his name has changed over time)


I read a very interesting book on the Riots of New York. Of course the draft riots are the main story but it covers other huge riots. I would love to see a great mini-series on the draft riots.

That shit was seriously fucked up man.
#43
Old 02-15-2013, 12:05 AM
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So much was bad with it that all of the much good in it could barely keep up!
Starting out: Liam Neeson's horrible wig.
Then: Bill the Butcher's Artie Johnson imitation from Laugh-In.
Trying too hard to be a period movie. How many effing times do we hear about CD 'having sand'?
Rambling movie. Just all over the place.
What everyone else said that was wrong with it.
#44
Old 02-15-2013, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Funny, when they're not part of a 10, your zeros look an awful lot like sixes.



Chicago won 6 that year, maybe that's what you were thinking of?
No, no, he was correct. I'd definitely never believe that it won 6!
#45
Old 02-15-2013, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
So much was bad with it that all of the much good in it could barely keep up!
Starting out: Liam Neeson's horrible wig.
Then: Bill the Butcher's Artie Johnson imitation from Laugh-In.
Trying too hard to be a period movie. How many effing times do we hear about CD 'having sand'?
Rambling movie. Just all over the place.
What everyone else said that was wrong with it.
The Artie Johnson accusation was over the top. His performance, tho, is a bit caricaturish. I don't know whom he is channeling, but, it is somebody I can't quite place...

Last edited by handsomeharry; 02-15-2013 at 12:19 AM.
#46
Old 02-15-2013, 11:00 PM
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Gangs of New York has a lot of things going for it. The camerawork, the music, the sets and costumes are all excellent. I think it told a good and interesting story. Although one must admit it was a very long and somewhat unfocused story.There's also a lot of great acting in the film besides DDL. Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Graham and John C. Reilly were all perfect in their supporting roles.

Unfortunately, not all the acting in the film is great. I think Leo is a capable actor, but he was badly miscast as Amsterdam. I just don't buy him as 19th century New York's toughest knife fighter. Part of the problem was that he looked twice as pretty as Cameron Diaz, who was miscast in the sense that she's just not really that good of an actor. Her entire plot line felt forced in anyway (as romance subplots often do) which was another of the film's flaws.

I feel the film would have benefited from being slightly less over the top. For example: Bill killing the Sheriff of New York in front of dozens of witnesses was too much. That scene would have worked better if Bill had murdered him covertly (everybody know's it was him but they can't prove it). I did find the "no pistols" thing to be a bit unbelievable too. I mean, even the Jets and the Sharks broke the rules and brought weapons to the rumble.

Ultimately I'm quite fond of Gangs of New York, I even own it on DVD. But it certainly could have been better. It's a bit of a flawed gem.
#47
Old 02-15-2013, 11:15 PM
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My problem?

I can watch any scene in that movie with Butcher Bill.

I can barely watch any scene with Amsterdam if BB is not around.

Forget any scene with Cameron Diaz.

The hero is a duplicitous little backstabber. The 'villain' is ruthless but honors his fallen foe.
#48
Old 02-16-2013, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
The Artie Johnson accusation was over the top. His performance, tho, is a bit caricaturish. I don't know whom he is channeling, but, it is somebody I can't quite place...
Columbo. That's it.

Last edited by handsomeharry; 02-16-2013 at 12:27 PM.
#49
Old 02-16-2013, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bienville View Post
Since my primary criticism was aimed at the script, I'll at least credit that the Civil War happening in the background was kind of the point of the story being told here.

Southern Secession was a major test of how America was to be defined. The conclusion of the Civil War firmly established that America is one country and that no specifics of local interests will ever trump allegiance to the union of the United States as a single country.

The gangs of Five Points had a naively myopic view of the world. Basically, their neighborhood was the center of their universe and they took no notice of anything happening outside a radius of a few blocks. If the Civil War is mentioned at all within the neighborhood, it is addressed with disdain in a "that's got nothing to do with me" manner.

The first day of the draft riots, the gangs are preparing for their battle the next day- uninterested or oblivious to the big picture. On the second day of the riots, the gangs show up for their appointed brawl as if it's just any other regular day.

We the audience are supposed to recognize how clueless they are, and how pathetically petty they are to think their local squabbles count for anything in the grand scheme of things. The Civil War was raging and would soon establish once and for all an undisputed national identity that would supercede all local interests. We would be Americans first, all our various subcultures would only amount to "local flavor".

Again, I don't think the film delivers very strongly as an allegory but this basic point is reasonably well-made I think. Having the Civil War happen "in the background" is a central commentary on the worldview of the main characters.
I agree that this is what Scorsese was most likely going for with the ending, but the problem with it is that he just spend two hours getting me invested in the story of the gangs in the points only to pull the rug out at the end and say "none of it really mattered." Well, if that is the case, why did I waste my time watching the first two hours of the film?
#50
Old 02-16-2013, 01:41 PM
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I love this movie. Great story, great acting all around, great attention to historical detail. It was clearly made by someone who loves New York City and is fascinated with it. We need more smart movies like this about American history.

To those complaining about historical inaccuracies such as Barnum's burning down and the date of Butcher Bill's death: when making a movie about history you have to sacrifice some accuracy for the sake of plot and pacing. Life doesn't come out in movie form.
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