Just saw GONY tonight…and while it’s not perfect, I think a flawed Scorese film is infinately more interesting than a “perfect” film from any other director.
My main problem was with the story structure and pacing. The sequence where Amsterdamn leaves the boys home and returns home is a mess; we get images of him returning home overlaid with out-of-place narration concerning Irish immigrants and intercut with scenes of Bill the Butcher and Boss Tweed talking business. We’re getting 3 story points jammed down our throats at once, none of which are thematically linked really.
I also disliked the sequence where the politcal mechanisms of Tammany are shown, and Monk Eastman is elected Sheriff only to be killed by the Butcher. In the aftermath of the confrontation between the Butcher and Amsterdamn, it just seems kind of out of place…stopping the personal story dead cold just for the sake of sketching out a picture of ward politics. Such info should have been placed into the movie earlier on.
Oh, and those spoken police dispatches were awful. Ruined the seriousness of what should have been a dire scene.
I loved much of the movie, though. I thought the acting was excellent all around, and there are many scenes that are as good as anything from Raging Bull or Goodfellas (the opening battle scene and the scene where Bill, wounded and sleepless, talks to Amsterdamn quietly with a American flag draped around him)
I’d give the movie a 8 out of 10, and think it deserves a Best Picture nomination.
One small thing that bugs me, though…having read the original Jay Cocks 4th draft script from 1993, which had a very different story arc (Amsterdamn and the Butcher remaining hostile enemies throughout, more grimy details of New York life concerning white slavery, child murders, and drug addiction, and a spectacular climax where the Dead Rabbits attempt to loot a armory and rob a bank during the height of the riots) I can’t help but compare what I originally envisioned and what wound up on film. I’d say they should have stuck with the original storyline…we would have missed out on the frisson between Bill and Amsterdamn (except for a temporarily alliance at the end, where the Dead Rabbits and Native Americans unite to fight the militia) but I think it would have been a more satisfying story overall.