Dark History. Martin Scorcese. And The Rebirth of America.

Wow. I think I've seen more movies this year than I saw in the last half of 2003. Just saw Scorcese's latest epic, Gangs of New York. Needless to say, a very ambitious project. Visually the film's language is dark, sullen and downright beautiful in its gore. The sad state of our country in the middle of the 19th century is projected majestically on Five Points, a dirty, corrupt immigrant ghetto of New York City. One begins to wonder if the writers and Marty were looking to tell the rebirth of corruption, organized crime, two-faced democratic liberals, government against the people, the people against themselves, bigotry, racism, media bias and religious fanaticism all wrapped up in simulteneously tenebrific and playful Scorcese like multimedia canvas.

I loved this film. Though, like any Hollywood film trying to paint a picture of history, it is flawed in many respects. I could of done without the Matrix influenced quick pan camera work and time altered footage that plagues much of the first half of the movie. And though Daniel Day-Lewis deserves an Oscar, Leonardo DiCaprio is so badly miscast it hurts. Not that he does a bad job. He's wonderful. But sorry. Not the right actor in this role. Not since Godfather III have I seen such a bad casting decision. But hell. A three-hour plus movie loosely based on historical events still needs to sell tickets. Judging by the huge lines to see Chicago and the empty theatre for Gangs, maybe Marty should have focused on a similarly historical piece surrounding O'Leary's cow.

Despite my criticisms, my pupils were glued to the screen except during the painful and gut-wrenching, blood, guts and violent torture so stereotypical for Scorcese. And damnit. What about the contrived scene where Bill the Butcher (Day-Lewis) tells Vallen (DiCaprio) the story of how the only man he remembers killing was an honorable man. The man happens to be Vallen's father. Geeez. Come on! I've never seen Scorcese resort to this type of character exposition. Don't get me wrong.

Did I say I love this film? It's colorful, yet dark. Beautiful, yet haunting. The cross table dialog in a number of scenes frightful yet downright funny — the thing I like best about Marty. And perhaps the best part of this film is how Scorcese uses period music to color and punctuate scene after scene. But god Marty! Why that awful U2 Song in the final credits? You really think the characters in this film are the hands that built America? Who you talking about? The Irish immigrants who arrive in New York only to enter a turnstile. P.T. Barnum? Horace Greeley? Bill the Butcher? The gangs? The whores? The firemen?

Truthfully, I do beg you to see it. But keep in mind it's no Taxi
Driver, GoodFellas or Raging Bull. Good Enough. Enjoy!

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