I was watching "Gangs of New York" with my ex-roommate, and we just finished the almost three hour movie. My roommate told me he has a homework assignment involving the film. He just has to write about his thoughts on it. Well, these are my thoughts.
This is definitely a different movie for Martin Scorsese. It takes place in the late 19th century. It takes place in the Civil War era. The story basically a man, Amsterdam Vallon (Leo DiCaprio), returns to NYC, after being in an orphanage, to avenge his father's (Liam Neeson) death. Along the way he meets people he was forced to leave behind and learns of what's changed in the city. He joins a gang of immigrants and people trying to stay out of the war and avoid the first U.S draft. The leader of the opposing side is, of course, the man, Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), that killed his father. This man is a "native american" with a deep hatred of immigrants and others who aren't white. His main goal is to rise in power through illegal activity and murder. Rounding out the cast is Cameron Diaz as Vallon's love interest. Her name is Jenny Everdeane, and she is a sneaky pickpocket and volatile woman. This is a different role for Diaz, I've only seen her in things like "The Mask," "The Holiday," and "What Happens in Vegas." She, along with the rest of the cast, give great performances.
My roommate was writing down his thoughts while he was watching the movie. He picked up on some things I didn't think too hard about. This movie has a lot of different themes associated with it. All of these themes are seen in various small moments, but add to the movie as a whole. "Gangs of New York" keeps people pretty high-strung through the use of knife violence and the anticipation of some slightly gruesome scenes. On-screen knife violence never really agrees with me, it's can just be too much sometimes. It wouldn't seem so overdone after a second viewing, and that's something I would love to check out. Overall this is great movie and it has a pretty amazing final scene that can only be appreciated after sitting through, enjoying it or not, the whole film.