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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Gangs of New York
So, we did not watch Baran after all. Gangs of New York had just opened and I was very kicked about the fact that tickets were available on the opening night. The biggest advantage of watching early is the quality of the print; unfortunately, it was not be so. The distributors hadn�t struck a new print for us unfortunate Chennaiites. The print was already pretty scratched up, probably after countless runs in some theatre in Sub Saharan Africa. Another fallout of the spliced-to-platter print, cut back into the cans, and brought in here, was that a few frames in the beginning and the end of every reel were missing. The results put Thelma Schoonmaker�s efforts to vain.
As for the movie, I have a few keywords (key-phrases to be exact): Patchy Masterpiece; Excellent Musical Irony; Daniel Day-Lewis is a genius; Darkly comic-ironic moments; Vintage Scorsese stylisation; Bloody good cutting; Sometimes treading the thin line between �corny� and �insightful�; Theatrical drama; �Sound� sound design; etc, etc.
The thing is, it is too personal a movie to be overly judgemental about. Either you like it or don�t. In this day of crass commercial Michael Bayisms, I am happy that an Ang Lee and a Scorsese still live to be criticised for their autership.
I take my own auterial rights as a film fan to say that this movie slightly reminded me of Mani Ratnam�s Bombay (or for that matter any of his �issue� movies).
OK it is only a bloody once-in-a-million coincidence that both films (Gangs... and Bombay) discuss urban communal violence. My points of comparison are very different: They both have their moments of great stylisation, exciting front-of-the-seat absorbing action, dark humour and irony. Also both movies are very patchy in their pacing, and sometimes dramatic to the point of forcing a slight twitching in the back end of the seat. The similarities should end there. The biggest point of deviation is that Bombay tended to be overly and almost tastelessly didactic.
If Citizen Kane was commended for being a �Shallow Masterpiece�, Gangs of New York would be a �Patchy Masterpiece�.
Despite the projection hang-ups, I am glad to have seen for the first time, a Martin Scorsese picture on the big screen. I�ve seen tapes and DVDs on 21 inches of interlaced video, but on the large screen Thelma Schoonmaker still rocks.


1:45 pm

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