Gangs of New York Martin Scorsese

Gangs of New York Martin Scorsese
Admiration for Martin Scorsese's long-in-coming Gangs of New York comes in pieces: for the spectacular (and scary) performance of Nativist gang leader Bill the Butcher by Daniel Day-Lewis; for the detail with which Scorsese recreates mid-19th century New York; for the vision and dedication to tell this tale, a forgotten and regularly chilling chapter of violence and hatred in American history. This extensive DVD exploration similarly parcels out those pieces, contextualising the action with documentaries about the city's real gangs and the impoverished Five Points neighbourhood. From the filmmaking side, it looks into cosmetic accomplishments like costumes and set design, remarkable achievements both. But from a storytelling perspective, the whole is not its parts' sum, and it's Day-Lewis's co-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, who aren't adding up. Here it seems that Scorsese, in an effort to complete the film he'd been struggling with for more than a decade, made a few concessions to commerciality — namely an ill-conceived "romance" between DiCaprio's Irish punk and Diaz's sensitive hooker. It's hard to imagine two stars having less onscreen chemistry. But this DVD should serve Scorsese's efforts well — by revealing the bricks and beams of his construction, admiration for his accomplishments increases now that you can see what went into it. Sadly, this context is absolutely necessary, since the film doesn't achieve its worthy ambitions on its own. Extras: commentary by Scorsese; featurettes on costume and set design; exploring sets feature; "Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York" doc; "Five Points Study Guide"; more. (Miramax/Alliance Atlantis)