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irrational number, fissionable material: reive (reive) wrote,
@ 2003-01-04 04:17:00
gangs of ny
I finally saw Gangs of New York tonight, and it is a flawed, flawed movie -- and not, for the most part, in interesting ways. Despite this, there are also many amazing things about it and it is well worth seeing in the theaters.

Strange period of time we're having in movies -- so much about the emotional lives of men lately.

Leonardo DiCaprio's performance is good. However, the film relies on voiceover from him, and his voice not only lacks the weight to carry it, but his lack of any sort of appropriate accent drove me insane.

Liam Neeson has a very small role in the film as DiCaprio's father whose death sets the plot in motion. He's such a huge, powerful presence though (I love these sequences, love love love) that it makes DiCaprio's character's attempts to live up to his legacy nearly absurd. He doesn't radiate the same sort of presence at all.

Daniel Day-Lewis' performance isn't just the best of the year but one of the best you'll ever see.

WHAT was with the costuming? The men's outfits were incredibly accurate and correct, the women's outfits were very "we saw Moulin Rouge and liked it!" A corset is not outerwear. A corset is not outer wear. A corset is not outerwear.

This era of New York's history is _really_ complicated. You'd think in fictionalizing it, they wouldn't manage to make it more complicated, and yet, they do.

I'm not a person who says anything is too ambitious, but this film is.

This film had me near tears repeatedly. There's one non-plot critical sequence where you see the Irish getting off ships, drafted into the army and hearded back on board ships to send them to fight in the Civil War, at the same time that coffins are offloaded from those very same ships. It is _devastating_.

If you love New York, this film will have you bawling by the end of it. In a way that I want to take this moment to say that if you're not a New Yorker you just don't know, and while I've made enemies for that before, I don't care.

I'm not saying New York isn't a part of everyone's mythos or everyone wasn't moved by the WTC thing or whatever, but New York is not merely mythos for me. It is also my birth right and my home. It defines who I am, and even if it didn't, it defines what people think of me. It is my speech, my walk, my ambition. It is my family's history and the things that happen to it are as blows to my own flesh. You can say I'm melodramatic and you can say I am unsympathetic to the humanity that suffers in my city's name and you'd probably even be right. But this is who I am, who the city has made me, and who the city allows me to choose to be and we will _never_ get over what has happened here. And that, ultimately, is what Gangs of New York is about, the fact that when you are a New Yorker, you don't get to get over _anything_ that has _ever_ happened here. Ever.

That is the power of my home. And that's why I can tell you, without remorse or doubt, that no matter how much you feel or how much you care, or how much you love this place, or how much you were scared for it, if you're not one of us, you just don't understand.

When I was a kid, many more of the streets of the Five Points area were still cobblestones -- and not neat cobblestones put in for tourists, but original, jagged ones, covered half and poorly with tar. Every weekend, we went to Little Italy, to Chinatown, to the parts of the city that were once Five Points and over the months and years, I watched the cobblestones get ripped out and covered over. I used to cry over it. And I didn't even know my city's history then. It just seemed wrong. It just seemed mine.

See the damn movie. Because it's easy to articulate what's wrong with it, but much harder to make you understand what's right with it, which is surprisingly a hell of a lot.

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