DRAMA GANGS OF NEW YORK (18) 168min ooo
A tragedy 30 years in the making
Martin Scorsese’s new film is a tragedy. Actually, it’s a history, and a romance - and that’s the tragedy of Gangs of New York. Thirty years in the making and plagued with production problems, Marty’s long cherished film about the brutal street gangs who fought for control of a corner of late 19th New York City finally arrives, and it’s a big disappointment. The most noticeable flaw is that Scorsese’s efforts to tell an epic story (he sees these street fighting years as something akin to the birth of a nation), which encompasses prototype mobsters, the immigrant experience, racism, corrupt politicians and the Civil War, are seriously undermined by a flimsy romantic subplot. The flirty flimflannery between Leonardo DiCaprio’s street urchin Amsterdam Vallon and Cameron Diaz’s purse-snatcher Jenny Everdeane has the unwanted result of compromising a fascinating history lesson with teen-pleasing romantic nonsense. Think Goodfellas fucked by Titanic. The romance is wholly unnecessary to the film, but, no doubt, wholly necessary, from the moneymen’s point of view, to the film’s
box office potential.
Perhaps for the same reason, the violence in the film is toned down. We’re familiar with the casual, shocking brutality of the mobsters Scorsese’s portrayed so effectively over the years, but here in 18605 New York, where rival gangs waged war with bat, axe and meat cleaver and took noses and ears from their victims as souvenirs, the inclusion of violence seems more important than ever.
And Gangs of New York feels long. At two and three quarter hours it’s not as long as Casino, but unlike that other Scorsese gangster epic, Gangs drags. Worse, the climax, during which the lrish immigrant gang lead by Amsterdam, the Dead Rabbits, and the American-born Nativists, lead by William Cutting aka Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis) go at it tooth and claw against the backdrop of anti-draft riots throughout the city, feels rushed. Oh, Marty thy editing skills have failed thee. Or, maybe it’s the moneymen again.
All that criticism aside, even a poor film by Scorsese’ standards is an interesting one by anyone else’s. And if for no other reason, Gangs of New York is worth seeing for Day-Lewis’ towering performance as the terrifying, charismatic anti-immigration gang leader. Move over Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, there’s a
new boss in town. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 70 Jan. See feature. page 72.
SCIENCE FICTION STAR TREK: NEMESIS (12A) 116min on
Trekkie fan lore says the even numbered Star Trek films are good.
the odd numbered films bad. Oddly
enough. that's generally true. However, the tenth film. Stark Trek: Nemesis. Is an exception to the rule. sort of. Neither as hopelessly noiicinematic as the seventh film.
The final frontier?
Generations (which Introduced the Next Generation crew to the big screen). nor anywhere near as spectacular as the eighth film. First Contact. Nemesis disappoints. not least because It could have been a very good film.
Of all of which is a shame. because this latest warp factor adventure is rumoured to be the last to feature the Next Generation cast. And yet the bare bones of an adventure to do the Enterprise crew. fans and filmgoers In general proud are here. The script by John Logan (the Oscar-Wining writer of Gladiator and a Trekkie) employs the kind of classical storytelling deVIces that lifted the original teleVIsIon series above the level of more space soap opera.
Drawnig on the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex. Logan's script has Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) face his ultimate nemesis: a younger version of himself who turns out to be a clone engineered
by the Roman-like warrior race the Romulans. But abandoned as a child by the Romulans to a life of Imprisonment. Shinzon (Tom Hardy) grows up filled with hate where Picard Is filled with love. So. like any screwed up kid. Shinzon befriends the Romulan sister race. the vampire-like Remans. escapes confinement. builds a giant spacecraft and a weapon of mass destruction. stages a coup d'etat on Romulus. and sets out to destroy the Earth and his 'daddy' aboard the USS Enterprise.
So far so interesting. but all this set-up builds to nothing more than an extended climax involvrng a dog light In space with Picard and Shinzon attempting to second guess one another's battle tactics. There might be plenty of in jokes for the fans and an open ending that's sequel friendly. but as a piece of cinema spectacle. Nemesis disappoints. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 3 Jan.
DRAMA CITY OF GOD (18) 130min moo
As mean as the New York streets that Martin Scorsese depicted in his 1973 crime flick were. they ain't got nothing on those of Cidade de Deus (City of God). a poor housing project built on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in the early 1960s. Here. it's kill or be killed. and not by an ageing gangster in a pinstriped suit but by a ten-year-old child wearing nothing but sheds and a pair of flip—flops.
For they start young in Brazil — too young — and director Fernando Meirelles depicts in a glorioust fluid and vivid style the terrifying true stOry of the street gangs that ruled and continue to rule the drug-riddled ghettos or favelas of this third world country. Based on Paulo Lins' novel of the same title and presenting the action through the eyes of the film's protagonist. a young photographer called Rocket. City of God brings home the full horror of children wielding guns in a culture devoid of the definition between right and wrong.
Mean Streets ain’t got nothing on this
That's not to say that it simply presents one gory gun battle after another. Critics have already called the film the Bra/ilian Goodfe/las (in the same way that Arnores Perros was referenced as the Mexican Pulp Fiction), mainly because Meirelles shows the same deft skill in portraying action scenes as he does in handling human relationships. character development and the challenging proposition of juggling numerous narratives simultaneously.
Split into three main sections — the late 19(30s when the hoodlums commit minor robberies. the 1970s when they get into drug dealing and the early 1980s when two rival gangs declare all out war ~ the film has both the epic scale and attention to detail of that other gangland classic. Once upon a Time in America. What makes it all the more impressive is that Is was made using non-professiona| actors. most of them street kids. all of whom light up the screen With their (lax/ling performances. (Catherine Bi'oinley) I GFT. Glasgow; Cameo, Fri/riburgh from in 5)‘ Jan. Prevrews Hill ." Jan. See p/‘ewem. page 26.
1’ to .Jan L‘ik‘ﬁ THE LIST 27