Gangs of New York

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Rist Gordan: ****

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, Henry Thomas, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson

Rated R for intense strong violence, sexuality/nudity and language.

For lack of better movies to see at a little theater at midnight, this was the choice. I had wanted to see this movie for quite a while, but wasn't exactly sure what to expect. The first 15 minutes throws you right into the main conflict and is quite confusing. I was so lost and leaned over to my friend to mutter "Do you get this at all?"  But it all got explained in due time, much to the appreciation of me. The movie starts in 1846 and runs all the way 1863. It tells the story of life in the five points of New York, where people are thrown together into groups and fights break about between those who think they have privilege to the land. The story begins with the life of an Irish-man, Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson) and his gang, the 'dead rabbits' whose conflict with those who consider themselves to be the Natives of America, leads to battle.  The natives are lead by William Cutting (Daniel Day Lewis) who has acquired the nick-name of 'Bill the Butcher'. When he slays Priest Vallon in battle, the priest’s son swears to avenge his death. The story tells of life and death and the question of who really belongs in this land.

I must say, I wasn't expecting much from Leonardo DiCaprio (who plays the priest's son) in this movie. He pulled this Irish accent off in an interesting way, but I kept having flash backs to Titanic (God, the horrors.) Over all he seemed to handle a more dramatic, less romance centered story plot very well. I absolutely loved Daniel Day-Lewis in this film. He was brilliant and pulled off the villain quite well. He makes the funniest facial expressions, yet had this air of one who is supremely dangerous. Jim Broadbent was hilarious, although I doubt he was supposed to be. He played a politi-cian scrambling for the many votes of the poor souls in the five points. When he first came on the screen I remember my friend screaming in my ear "Oh My God! It's Zidler!” Cameron Diaz played the excellent part Jenny Everdeane, the sophisticated thief who becomes DiCaprio’s love interest. I never thought she could pull off red hair so well.

Over all this movie was excellent, putting together a historical fiction and drama. The film work itself was excellent, one of the better I have seen. The irony of the whole movie was in the idea that the 'natives' were really the ones that belonged when their claim to the land only went back a few hundred years. The only true natives were the American Indians, the rest of America is in fact a melting plot, yet we can't find the decency to accept other people, when we ourselves are the strangers.
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