Sunday, 7 April 2013

Gangs of New York (2002)

I saw this on cinematic release and didn't like it to be honest but since then I have read up on the history behind the film and was surprised to find out its actually very accurate. This got me interested again in the film so I decided to watch it again.

The first thing that hits you about this semi epic is the fact it looks amazingly realistic from the sets to the costumes in every scene and every aspect. All the characters look greasy, seedy and unwashed whilst carrying the perfect sense of 18th Century New York across to a tea with their remarkably good accents, this of course helps with a good choice of cast. Day-Lewis of course is the man in this film with his Dick Dastardly whiplash moustache, gleaming glass eye, coarse voice and tall slim body all dressed in close fit waistcoat, top hat and full length coat, strangely Burton-esq and intimidating.

The constant use of his knifes and meat cleavers in the film is quite un-nerving I must admit, the scene on stage with Diaz and his knife throwing act is quite a tense moment that really shows his savage nature at humour. Day-Lewis maybe the best actor of our age for me and this performance really does show his dedicated nature to bringing out a character from simple walking motion to the quite eerie expressions of his face whilst trying to tame or perhaps contort his facial hair.
His impressive performance is also accompanied by Gleeson, Neeson, Broadbent and surprisingly Diaz (for once).  Yet the inclusion of Scorsese favourite DiCaprio for me was a bad choice as despite being a quite decent actor now, at the time of this film he simply wasn't good enough and didn't look the part either, in my opinion.

The plot is intriguing set against the New York draft riots, mass immigration problems from the Irish mainly and the ongoing scuffles between many factions for the control of The Five Points area. As said the story is accurate with little use of artistic license which is highly notable and again surprising. Many names of people and gangs are real as is the depiction of racism, murder of blacks during the riots and bloody warfare between the gangs, some of this on my first viewing I thought may have been fantasized.

The film isn't a true flowing epic though in all honesty, its very good and enjoyable but I think the visuals and atmosphere of the film is the true winner here, you can almost smell the rot, damp and dank. The plot does get rushed towards the end I feel and the finale isn't a good one, a slight anticlimax and one inaccurate aspect of the film, the ending lets it down disappointingly.

Memorable scene, Cutting explains to Happy Jack Mulraney how he wants the killer of a poor innocent little rabbit caught, some of the best facial expressions I've seen since De Niro.