It doesn’t get much more New York than this. As the red carpet showed the
way into the Ziegfeld Theatre last night, this city’s biggest and best lined
their way inside to finally get the first glimpse of Martin Scorsese’s 25-year work in progress, Gangs of New York. Pushed back more time times
than autumn daylight savings, the premiere last night was long awaited by
fans and the industry alike that are already lining this film up for numerous
2003 Academy Award Nominations.
The amount of star actors in attendance was even outnumbered by the big-time
musicians in the audience. (Or, it might just be in my nature to seek them
out). Virtually any rock-star that calls New York home was there: Billy
Joel, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Bono and The Edge all set in the same vicinity as the cast of the movie. Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly
and other key characters from the film milled and buzzed around before the
The premiere was started off by a brief juck and jive by Miramax chief
Harvey Weinstein on Scorsese’s budget and length of time making this movie.
After also giving heartfelt thanks and praise to his brother Bob Weinstein,
as well as executive producer Rick Yorn, he then introduced Scorsese, who
gave credit to all the various producers and cast members, as well as a nod
to the musical contributions provided by the likes of Robbie Robertson and
Bono. Scorsese finished his introduction to a rousing applause, the massive
curtains of the Ziegfeld opened, and the waiting was over.
From the opening moment of the movie, you can feel Scorsese’s presence. In
the minutes before an opening epic battle scene that has the tension and
feel of the beginning of Gladiator, a very young Amsterdam Vallon watches
his father (played by Liam Neeson in a small yet very powerful supporting
role) shave his face prior to the fight; his blade draws blood, which stays
red on the knife as the father hands it over to his son. Symbols and imagery
like this run thick throughout the movie.
The war scene that follows is just one of many fairly violent moments of
Gangs of New York; it’s nothing that is too overdone though. While the
faint of heart might squirm in their chairs at many of the casualties and
battle wounds that are graphically displayed on the screen, it’s not bad
enough to prevent anyone from seeing this remarkable tale of our city’s
past. The set and artistic details that are on visual display in this movie
will assure that it goes DEEP in the Academy nominations; everything from
costume design to scenery will surely be included once the nominees are
But the one that stands alone in this movie is gang-leader villain Daniel
Day-Lewis, who delivered a performance so powerful it’ll be talked about for
years to come. Scorsese literally makes you study him in every scene. He’s
so evil and devious he makes Captain Hook seem like your first choice for a
babysitter. He holds this status from his opening scene, where Scorsese
shoots him from his feet up, showcasing every square inch of his badass self
for us to marvel in. Playing the notorious Bill the Butcher, he weaves a
very unlikely kinship with an older Vallon, now played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
This relationship takes us throughout the middle of the movie, which at
times seems to stretch itself out a bit; you know Vallon is eventually going
to turn on Bill the Butcher, you’re just waiting for when. Eventually, the
young son of his fallen father turns the tables for what plays out to be the
war of wars for the city of New York.
The movie mixes everything thats great about Gladiator with everything
that was epic about Titantic. I could have taken or left the love-fest
between DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, but it didn’t get in the way of the heart
of this film. The hype has been lead, and Scorecese has delivered.
Source: Brad Oldham (RCA)