2 Hollywood Titans Brawl Over A Gang Epic
April 6, 2002 11:39 AM   Subscribe

2 Hollywood Titans Brawl Over A Gang Epic -- (NYTimes link, I apologize but am unsure of the etiquette on that issue). Martin Scorcese's project Gangs Of New York (about pre-Civil War NYC immigrant gangs) is quickly turning into something akin to Titanic, and not just 'cuz it's got Leo in it. The budget's out of control (maybe someone cheaper than U2 should do the score), the release date's on a backwards spiral (yes, it was supposed to come out last Christmas), some of the content rankles after 9/11, and now Harvey Weinstein wants a new ending. The cherry on top? Its current release date has it pitted against Tom Hanks and Sam "American Beauty" Mendes' The Road To Perdition, another gangster piece. For a relatively complete diary of the film's woes, try the film's page at the always-useful Corona. Think Miramax has its most spectacular dud on the way, or do you trust Scorcese to pull it off?
posted by logovisual (17 comments total)
I have had a very uneasy feeling about this film for a long time but have trusted that the genius Scorceses can pull it off; now I am not so sure.
The casting of Di Caprio first set the alarm bells ringing. Now we have Weinstein, who has been responsible for some trite shit, throwing his weight about. Plus it seems art has to be sanitised so as not to offend delicate post 9/11 sensibilities.
I am not hopeful.
posted by Fat Buddha at 11:59 AM on April 6, 2002

Fantastic, I love gangster epics. Two debuting on the same day, and one's a Scorsese flick! (and it's not a DeNiro/Pesci retread!) I don't care if Weinstein stinks up the theatrical release, as long as a director's cut is available on DVD.
posted by nikzhowz at 12:49 PM on April 6, 2002

I don't imagine that this will ultimately seem wholly authentic in the air of Scorsese's 1970s work, but it hardly seems as though it will be wholly uninteresting. Chaos sometimes dogs films, and doesn't in itself guarantee a dud.

There seems to be a Gangs of New York book website, however abbreviated; and the book has been reissued. And a book that inhabits some of the same narrative space is Mark Helprin's epic of magical realism and New York at both ends of the 20th century, Winter's Tale.
posted by dhartung at 1:48 PM on April 6, 2002

in the preview clips i've seen dicaprio looks like he is in a bad school play.

i'll take Tom Hanks as a hitman any day over dicaprio as...well, anything.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2002

Whatever the artistic result, I hope Scorcese makes a mint off this picture. Anyone that can successfully deal with having his work progressively torn to shreds every single day via the use of the phrase "Harvey Weinstein wants...", without going over to Miramax himself and beating the living hell out of Harvey Weinstein, deserves a lot of good karma.
posted by aaron at 2:34 PM on April 6, 2002

I have no idea what this film is about, but heritage and history demand a shout-out for the Westies.

Hoy hoy hoy.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:00 PM on April 6, 2002

It's unlikely that this film will deliver anything of cinematic worth due to a particularly troubled production journey. For years marketing departments have dictated how films will look. It will be the carefully selected preview audiences who will have ticked the box indicating a preferred toning down of the violence so intrinsic to the the tale. I doubt that this time, even a respected maverick like Mr Scorsese will be able to stand his ground on that one - such is the wave of disapproval for anything but 'feelgood' films after September 11th. Having a 'star' cough up to fund a film never bodes well, it always results in too much screen time for them in the final edit, and as for having U2 provide the music - sorry, just thinking about that part makes me feel very ill.
posted by Arqa at 3:25 PM on April 6, 2002

i read an interview with the screenwriter of this project. it was apparently his baby for 20 years and he and scorsese (not scorcese) have been friends forever. miramax bought the script and then immediately fired him. i haven't expected much from the film since.

and i agree with Arga. U2's doing the music? more than likely i won't be seeing this one. ever.
posted by dobbs at 4:23 PM on April 6, 2002

I've been waiting for another good gangster movie for some time...

It just doesn't look like I'm going to get it.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:47 PM on April 6, 2002

Mark Helprin's epic of magical realism and New York at both ends of the 20th century, Winter's Tale.

Read it ten years ago, so the details are sketchy, but damn I loved that book.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2002

Is it possible for a director these days to get Stanley Kubrick style control over a project? Or have we totally lost sight of the fact that film can be an art form, if it is left to its artists and not Harvey fuckin' Weinstein. Kubrick always had final cut, and that was for the theatrical release, not just some DVD. He never let any studio execs on the set- they only saw the film after it was cut, and he never tested (screened the film for an audience to gauge their reactions in order to determine changes). Hiring Leo Di-what's-his-name, who I consider one of the most uninteresting actors of our time, for a lead also bodes trouble for the film, as noted above.

When I finally have the dough to shoot the screenplay I have been slaving over for years, the buck will stop with me. That's why I will probably never get the money to make it. Sigh.
posted by evanizer at 8:59 PM on April 6, 2002

evanizer: that is actually only true post-Spartacus. He shared directing on that one.

Scorsese discusses the whole issue of how director/studio art/commerce conflict at length in his excellent History of American Cinema documentary.
posted by bingo at 9:49 PM on April 6, 2002

Forget about 'Gangs' and 'Dino,' I say it's time to bring out a sequel to this masterpiece! Who's with me?
posted by Rastafari at 11:08 PM on April 6, 2002

To capture the 'five points' era would be very hard to do. "Once upon a time in a America" had some fine work camera wise but the story was a little janky. 'about pre-Civil War NYC immigrant gangs' thats a hellova project. the worst gang violence occured during this era...dead rabbitts riot, draft riots of '63. I wonder if leo is playing a character based on 'monk eastman' one of the first NYC crime bosses. the roach guards, plug-uglies and dead rabbitts were around...1820's to 1900? most of these gangs came under the leadership of the five points gang circa 1900...the era of paul kelly and torrio and frankie yale.'Is it possible for a director these days to get Stanley Kubrick style control over a project?'- no, not like he had control. "heritage and history demand a shout-out for the Westies" are they not a philiy outfit? Hanks character is fiction, so that fits with his style, never heard of a capone gunman named sullivan...could be based upon 'Camel' humpreys, he was considered a genius. it is time to stop romanticizing these things, with 'just real enough characters' and 'redeeming' values of gangsters. "millers crossing' is the benchmark for me, genius film. i wanna see a scence of 5000 gansters clashing for 4 or 5 days through the Bowery, cops doing little...i wanna see it because it happened. ya know if where gonna look we may as well see. what can you do about 9-11 and a gangster film about another era? why change it.
posted by clavdivs at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2002

Isn't there a metafiler log/pass to the NY Times content?

I think I've read a post that was giving log/pass. Something like mefi/mefi If I remember correctly.

posted by Baud at 11:35 AM on April 7, 2002

Is it possible for a director these days to get Stanley Kubrick style control over a project?

Not in a major studio. Which is what Miramax is, of course - it's hard to claim artistic independence when Disney owns you.

For many here, the project's fate could foretell the future appetite of executives for big-budget artistic gambles in an industry increasingly focused on profitability.

This writer's talking about a movie whose stars are Leo and Cameron "I'm Adorable Watch Me Shake My Ass" Diaz. This is about as much an artistic gamble as a Keane painting.
posted by solistrato at 9:35 PM on April 7, 2002

To say that Miramax is a "major studio" because it's owned by a major studio is a gross oversimplification. Miramax, like New Line, is there to spend a relatively small amount of money making movies that are riskier at the box office.

And Camerion Diaz has made quite a few movies that were "artistic gambles;" including Being John Malcovich and Feeling Minnesota, and the range of characters she's helped to create is pretty diverse. She's pretty but she does a lot more than shake her ass.
posted by bingo at 1:31 AM on April 8, 2002

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