Category: Archive

Hobbits rough up ‘Gangs’

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Martin Scorcese’s long-awaited epic, “The Gangs of New York,” came in fourth in the weekend box-office taking across the U.S., well behind the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
“The Two Towers” bagged $61.5 million over the three days from Friday to Sunday, while “Gangs,” showing in far fewer theaters, netted only $9.1 million.
At the same time, the tale of raw-knuckled Irish immigrants in mid-19th century New York did attract considerable praise from reviewers, though not without a few critical uppercuts along the way.
With the tale being set in New York’s legendary “Five Points” district, Big Apple publications devoted much ink to “Gangs.”
The Daily News gave the movie a fairly positive hometown verdict. While acknowledging that historic specifics had been compressed and that the film turned “choppy” in its final third, “Gangs” was, nevertheless, “a monumental achievement,” the paper said.
The New York Post awarded the movie three stars but fretted over historical exactitude.
With regards to the film’s portrayal of the 1863 draft riots, the Post review stated that “the narration flat-out lies” in showing that it was a generic multi-ethnic mob that took the to streets in July, 1863.
“In real life, it was the Irish who descended on the city’s black quarters — setting afire homes and churches and killing and torturing African Americans,” the Post review said.
The Post, however, also described “Gangs” as vivid, energetic and a movie that was “a powerful if imperfectly coherent vision of urban politics at its most primal.”
And like the Daily News, the Post was fulsome in its praise of Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal of a nativist gang leader.
The Village Voice also reached for “flawed” in its review. Gangs was a “lavish folly” that was not quite lavish or big enough to match its enormous aspirations.
The New York Times, in what was a lengthy and largely positive review, saw the movie as being both flawed and indelible. It was also both “important” and “entertaining.”
The Times pointed to a work that was “nearly a great movie.” The reviewer. A.O. Scott, concluded: “I suspect that, over time, it will make up the distance.”
The Wall Street Journal praised the film’s masterful direction, stunning production design and magnificent photography. “Gangs” was a “luminous dream” of the great city in its brawling youth.
The review, however, wielded an ultimate scalpel and panned the film for being too conventional.
“The bigger ‘Gangs’ gets, the smaller it seems,” the Journal concluded.
The New Yorker magazine reached for “strange and muddled” in its verdict. The film was a “disorganized epic,” the magazine said. But again, Day-Lewis came in for the kind of praise that could well earn him an Oscar.

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