Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese, 2002)
Gangs of New York is the Martin Scorsese picture that Harvey Weinstein wanted to produce to win many Oscars and be the ultimate David O. Selznick. Weinstein wanted to produce the movie of a true Hollywood director and have full control over "his" director. The Miramax tycoon always thought he knew movies better than anyone else and he knew what the public wanted to see. Buying foreign films at low cost and cutting them to please American audiences was his bread and butter in the 1980's. In the 1990's, he decided that he would buy Independant American features and control the lenght and the content. He began producing with Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and slowly earned fame and recognition within his peers. However, ther a re few filmmakers that haven't been well acquainted with Weinstein because he is a man of control and a manipulative fellow. He'll always present himself like your best friend, buying your movie and making you a favor to distribute and promote it the way you wanted it to be.
Harvey Weinstein had a huge ego and even bigger ambitions, he wanted to be the next David O. Selznick. Selznick is the producer responsible for the famed adaptation of Gone With the Wind, the film that made the most profit in all film History when adjusted to current prices at the modern day Box Office the profit made by this film will never be equalled. Selznick had control over casting, directing, producing , designs, etc. Gone With the Wind is his movie and it was probably his greatest achievment. No wonder, ambition and money driven Harvey Weinstein was always thinking of the producer when he began tormenting Scorsese during the shooting, editing, mixing of Gangs of New York.
One thing Harvey forgot, Martin Scorsese is also a control freak and he needs his director cut and the complete control over his own work. The two hot-tempered men almost went into fights over Gangs of New York a film about the many confrontations that happened during the first decades of New York City. The violence of the making of the film is well reflected in the visual of the story. The personalisation of Bill the Butcher by Daniel Day-Lewis who already been in a slur against Harvey Weinstein at the time of My Left Foot can easily be described as the representation of the mighty producer.
There are many things that outlines in Gangs of New York, Leonardo DiCaprio that fails at bringing the Irish hero to life with the depth needed by the character. DiCaprio was far better in the Spielberg picture released the same day that portrays a famous counterfeit in Catch Me If You Can. The one note actress Cameron Diaz gives one of her worst performance and the sex scenes of the aforementioned actors is forced and uninspired. It is sad that the only character we dig for and believe is Bill the Butcher and John C. Reilly's Happy Jack Mulraney.
Moreover, the whole movie feels unScorsesian and the inspiration of his Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull doesn't seem to really appear here. It is clear that the energy wasted in the Weinstein-Scorsese battles is compromising the success of the story and the film. The 100-plus millions dollar production gives a somewhat well shot film that doesn't stand as one of the essential films of Scorsese's career. It is nonetheless, a worth seing picture that 10 years later hasn't really aged much but that is frustrating in the manner of the making because it could have been just a notch better and it would have been a much more celebrated movie. Gangs of New York is better than the average mediocrity of block buster but as a Martin Scorsese picture it lacks of spirit and disappoint someone who's looking for a great film.