December 22, 2002


AT THE MOVIES I: I just saw Gangs of New York. I mostly liked it, though it was long and lumbering (a common Scorsese problem); the boring Cameron Diaz subplot could have been mostly cut. Maybe it's my inner 11-year-old boy talking, but my thought was "she's only interesting when she's stealing things; the kissing and talking's got to go."

I'm fascinated by this corner of history, and the depiction of it is riveting. The main to-avenge-or-not-avenge storyline is serviceable. And Daniel Day-Lewis is simply fantastic. Unfortunately, the "British DeNiro," for whom this is the first screen appearance in five years, has said "Nothing happened over the course of making Gangs of New York that made me think, 'Why don't I do this more often?'"

There's a mild spoiler in the white space that follows; it doesn't have to do with the plot, but I am going to discuss the very last shot of the movie. To read it, highlight it. (I've used those cumbersome [link] things because there's no easy way to hide linked text. Clicking on the links may also lead to spoilers.)

At the end of the movie, a shot of lower Manhattan dissolves into a series of later and later shots as the city is built up over the years. The twin towers of the World Trade Center dominate the last shot, and that's the end. It's a little unnerving, but Scorsese, who was already editing by September 11, 2001 has a good explanation: "I can't take them out, I don't want them out. Fighting, dying, the cycle of life creates the city -- it doesn't tear it down." [link]

I can't think of a more eloquent argument for re-building big. [link]

Posted by John Tabin at December 22, 2002 04:07 AM