Sunday, August 01, 2010

Gang warfare

Gangs of New York: Scorscese taking some of his familiar themes-- New York, anarchy, migration and its links with crime-- and applying them to the Irish community of the 1860s. It has a lot of excellent period detail, but unfortunately this makes it feel a bit too clean and distant: Scorscese can do terrifying urban anarchy (Taxi Driver) and modern filmmakers can do Victorian squalor (the recent BBC adaptation of Bleak House, among many others), but this feels rather like it was filmed in a pioneer village rather than a real place. This, plus the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio (still at the time known for playing cute heroes rather than more ambiguous characters) as the protagonist, plus, apparently, some differences of vision between Scorscese and his producer, has meant that a lot of the film's political message (a savage take on the way in which the rich more or less let the poor of the city go to the devil, other than to exploit them as cannon fodder in their political and literal wars) has less of an edge than it ought to have, and life in the sort of ungoverned environment where everything is privately owned and, consequently, the fire departments spend more time fighting rival fire departments than putting out fires, comes across more as a quaint portrait of olden tymes than, as it must have been, a desperate, terror-filled and brutal existence. Lots of British actors in supporting roles, and if you blink you miss Trevor Cooper about halfway through.

Movie count for 2010: 79