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Sunday, December 29, 2002

Ninety Minutes and Six Hours

When do ninety minutes equal six hours? When comparing the experience of watching the two three-hour blockbusters that I attended over the holidays. That would be The Two Towers and Gangs of New York.

Two Towers goes in my list of Top Ten Movies, My Lifetime—a not inconsiderable period. It was so engrossing that when the credits came on and the lights went up, I couldn’t believe that three hours had passed.

Would that I could say that about Gangs of New York. The movie was so interminable that, by the end of the second hour, my wife, her sister and I were not only talking and laughing—something that I never do in a movie theatre—nobody around us was even objecting to our uncustomary lack of politeness. I was expecting my son to shush us, but when I looked toward his seat, he had already walked out.

I was so disappointed in Martin Scorcese. He was the main reason I went to this movie in the first place. I knew, being Scorcese, there would be no shortage of violence. But this was over the top. What could have been an interesting historical drama was ruined by the incessant bloodletting and butchery.

And the interminable length. Unlike Two Towers, whose dramatic richness required the full three hours, this tale could have been told in a crisp ninety minutes. Had Scorcese done so, the historical angle would have kept one’s interest. Instead, I found myself not giving a crap about the story or the characters or the history. And it seemed as if the audience was equally restive.

Despite Daniel Day-Lewis’s bravura performance as Bill the Butcher, this movie deserves to drop like a stone. Has Marty lost his touch? Could be.

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