Gangs of New York (Scorsese, 2002)

For all its faults (and it has a few), Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York resonates a grandiose vision rarely seen in film. Everything from the layered and colorful period-piece mise-en-scene to Thelma Schoonmaker’s breathtaking editing reveals a certain dynamic attention to cinematic movement within Scorsese’s allegory for the birth of modern day America. Yeah, the film is a mess, but it’s a glorious and mysterious one that builds on the combat of visceral jockeying between actor and camera (the great incarnation here must be Daniel Day-Lewis’ incendiary turn as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, although DiCaprio holds his own). Scorsese’s opus really is a battle between two halves; the first, a prolific origin story of a young man returning home to revenge his dead father, and the second a muddled mesh of historical revisionism and plot elements spinning out of control. Always fascinating, always maddening.

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