Tag Archives: Henry Thomas

Gangs of New York (2002) Review

Time: 167 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam Vallon
Daniel Day-Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting
Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane
Jim Broadbent as William “Boss” Tweed
John C. Reilly as Happy Jack Mulraney
Henry Thomas as Johnny Sirocco
Liam Neeson as “Priest” Vallon
Brendan Gleeson as Walter “Monk” McGinn
Director: Martin Scorsese

When his father is killed in New York City, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns in 1863 to hunt down his father’s killer, the ruthless Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis). It’s not easy for Amsterdam as gangs roam a corrupt New York City, with Bill Cutting ruling over everyone.

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Gangs of New York was a movie I was curious about re-watching. I remember seeing it many years ago for the first time and liking it, but I didn’t remember a lot about the movie. Whenever I hear about this movie, people seem to either regard it as one of Martin Scorsese’s best movies, or one of his worst. In a lot of my recent reviews where I revisit Scorsese’s filmography, I often talk about how I like the movie more on a second viewing. Gangs of New York is sadly the exception. It’s not a bad movie by any means, I’d even say that it’s rather decent and has a lot going for it, but there are just so many problems that hold it back from being as good as it should’ve and could’ve been.

Gangs of New York is quite ambitious, the idea of the plot and the setting are interesting. The script is written by Jay Cocks, Kenneth Lonergan and Steven Zaillian, and while they are great writers, the writing present in the movie weren’t all that great. There’s a lot of thought put into the gangs and how things are organised in the city, if the movie was focussed a lot more on that it could’ve been even better. However the movie is bogged down with some subplots, mostly focussed on characters that aren’t made to be particularly interesting for the most part. The thing is that you really see potential at points. There are some legitimacy great scenes here, and you can really see what Gangs of New York could’ve been all the way through. The second half still has problems, but it felt a little less messy than the first half, and it focuses up a little more. I think I should probably address the elephant in the room, that being Harvey Weinstein, and all of his interference of the film. Now its not known specifically what changes he made but what we do know is that at an hour was cut out because of him. Some of the weird decisions however I can sort of see him mandating, perhaps in an attempt to be more award friendly (and perhaps that worked, with the movie receiving 10 Oscar nominations, but it still led to a worse movie). If I didn’t know an entire hour was cut out, I’d say that this movie is too long at 2 hours 40 minutes. Most of Scorsese’s longer movies are well paced but this is not one of those cases. With that said, it might’ve actually been better with a longer runtime if it meant a much more complete movie. It really feels like it’s lacking something, it’s a movie that tries so hard to tackle so many themes and to be so many things, but ultimately ends up not being much. On top of that, much of Gangs of New York feels a little too Hollywood, and is a little too grand and operatic for its own good.

If you’re going to watch Gangs of New York for one reason only, it should be for Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, who is outstanding here. This is among his best performances, and knowing Day-Lewis, that’s saying a lot. Any time he was on screen, he made the scenes instantly better. Some people have talked about how Day-Lewis’s performance made everyone else look like they are bad at acting. While I wouldn’t entirely agree, he is working on a totally different level compared to everywhere else in this movie. Gangs of New York marks the first collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio, and as we all know it’s not their last. Though it’s nowhere near his best work, he still gives a solid performance with what is given. However he, like a lot of actors in this movie, have accents that are all over the place, in fact Daniel Day-Lewis and the actual Irish actors are the only people in the cast who don’t have accents that slip up. Still, DiCaprio plays the role reasonably well. Cameron Diaz on the other hand… she doesn’t fair so well. She didn’t fit into the movie well, and I hate to say it but she was rather miscast. In all fairness she wasn’t necessarily terrible, but she did not work in her role. It doesn’t help that the movie focusses so much on a romance between DiCaprio and Diaz, and that just didn’t work at all. Maybe it could’ve worked, but the two actors don’t share any chemistry, and you don’t even see why the two characters would be together. It’s a distraction more than anything. Some of the supporting cast are good, some roles like that played by John C. Reilly could’ve been played by anyone. Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson are among the supporting actors who fare better.

Martin Scorsese’s direction is on showcase in many parts of Gangs of New York. The production design and costumes were handled really well, and the cinematography was really good. This is Scorsese’s most ambitious and large scale movie and you can feel it throughout. I talked much about Weinstein’s interference, and I’m pretty sure that extended to the direction. There are some aspects that don’t work, and I’m just going to assume that he had a part to play in these issues. The editing goes from working really well to being rather choppy, and since this is Thelma Schoonmaker working on the movie, I’m just going to assume that some mandated decisions were made. What comes to mind immediately is the opening battle scene, no idea why it was edited like that. Then there’s the forced narration from Leonardo DiCaprio, definitely one of those instances where the narration doesn’t work at all and is generally used for exposition, though there are some moments that worked fine enough. However there is one aspect that makes me convinced some decisions were mandated by Weinstein. The opening scene features a few notable characters played by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, John C. Reilly and Brendan Gleeson. After the time jump when it shows the return of these characters from the opening sequence, it briefly cuts a flashback to them in that opening scene to remind the audience, even though anyone paying attention to the early portion would be able to recognise them. It really felt out of place, even though its just a small part of a very long movie, it doesn’t seem like a very Scorsese thing to do, and indicates that not all the decisions were made by him.

Gangs of New York for all its potential doesn’t completely work. There’s still a few movies of Martin Scorsese that I consider worse than this one, but this is definitely his most disappointing. Even putting aside some of the studio interference that no doubt affected quite a lot of the movie, the script has a ton of problems, and the movie operates on such a grandiose level that it doesn’t work as well as it could’ve. However it’s not a movie that I’d dismiss outright. Despite some mandated choices that don’t feel like Scorsese, it’s directed well, there are some scenes that are good, it picks up in the second half, and Daniel Day-Lewis gives an extraordinary performance. So I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Cast:
Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame
Bruce Greenwood as Gerald Burlingame
Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessie
Carel Struycken as “Moonlight Man”/Raymond Andrew Joubert
Henry Thomas as Tom
Kate Siegel as Sally
Director: Mike Flanagan

When a harmless game between a married couple in a remote retreat suddenly becomes a harrowing fight for survival, wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) must confront long-buried demons within her own mind – and possibly lurking in the shadows of her seemingly empty house.

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I had been hearing things about Netflix’s Gerald’s Game for a while. Mike Flanagan has been directing a lot of solid horror films with Oculus, Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil, so naturally his involvement with the film immediately that had my interest. Add on top of that Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood and the fact that they are adapting a Stephen King book (that I’ve admittedly never read) and you’ve got some great stuff. And indeed, Gerald’s Game is a really effective movie, one that’s simple yet very effective.

It’s an adaptation of a story by Stephen King and once again I haven’t read it, but I heard that it’s not one of King’s finest work. That didn’t seem to stop Flanagan, however, how seemed to be able to make it one of the better Stephen King live action adaptations. On the whole, Gerald’s Game isn’t really scary to me, save for a few moments. It is more of a psychological thriller (for the most part at least) and is very captivating from start to finish. It’s pretty much focussed on our main character trying to escape, while going through some hallucinations (won’t go into detail about them because I didn’t know much and was surprised by some things). On the whole, it had my attention and was really effective. There are some faults with Gerald’s Game however. There is quite a lot of exposition in the movie, and there are lots of flashbacks showing the backstory of Gugino’s character which is necessary to the story and it ties into the present storyline but it does drag a little in terms of pacing. Then there’s the ending which I do have mixed feelings about, it’s not just too long, without spoiling anything it feels a little forced and doesn’t work with the rest of the movie at all. The movie is an hour and 43 minutes long and outside of the flashback and exposition scenes which does bring the pacing down, it works. However a shorter run time probably would’ve made it work much better.

A performance that didn’t and still doesn’t get enough praise is Carla Gugino here, who is great here. Much of Gerald’s Game is basically based around her being handcuffed to a bed and is relying on her to carry the movie and she absolutely delivers. Honestly she is one of the best parts of the movie, her character has to go through a lot. Bruce Greenwood was also good and deserves some praise as well as the husband of Gugino’s character of Jessie. So often Greenwood has been in very supporting roles (being quite a character actor), and while he is that again here, here he gets some chances to shine. Most of the movie is just focussed on these two, but other performances by a few people like Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel are decent enough as well.

Mike Flanagan knows how to direct horrors and thrillers well and he does it once again with Gerald’s Game. There are also some great used of shadows, lighting and colour at certain points. There is one scene in the third act which is particularly intense and without delving too deep into it, it’s very hard to watch. There is no music played throughout the entire movie and it really benefited from it.

Gerald’s Game is a pretty good movie, it’s an effective thriller with an excellent lead performance from Carla Gugino and Mike Flanagan’s great direction. It is however brought down a little by the overuse of exposition, a little too many flashbacks and the ending which doesn’t quite work. With all that said, it may end up being one of the better movies based on a Stephen King novel. If you like horror thrillers, Gerald’s Game might be what you want, give it a watch if you have Netflix.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

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E.T

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast:
Henry Thomas as Elliot
Robert MacNaughton as Michael
Drew Barrymore as Gertie
Dee Wallace as Mary
Peter Coyote as Keys
Director: Steven Spielberg

A group of aliens visit earth and one of them is lost and left behind stranded on this planet. The alien soon finds a friend and in 10-year-old Elliot (Henry Thomas). While E.T. slowly gets acquainted with Elliot’s brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), his sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) as well as with Earth customs, members of the task force work day and night to track down the whereabouts of him. After being able to communicate with Elliot and the others, E.T. starts building an improvised device to send a message home for his folks to come and pick him up.

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E.T. is often called one of the greatest movies of all time. Maybe for its time it was, but looking at it now, it doesn’t seem to have held up, at least for me. The film isn’t bad, it’s decently made; but its aging has created some flaws as well as revealing some flaws in the movie that were there to begin with. In my opinion, this isn’t among Spielberg’s best or the best movies that ever made.

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The movie most of the time seems to focus on the relationship between E.T. and Elliot and while it wasn’t done badly; I didn’t really feel the connection between the two. As for how much emotion I felt, I didn’t really feel much when I watched it, even when I was 13 when I watched it for the first time I didn’t feel anything. Also I never really felt for any of the characters, none of them are unlikeable, they seem likable enough for a pass but I didn’t feel like we got to know them. Along with me not being attached to the characters, a lot of the scenes that had an impact on others didn’t make any impact on me for whatever reason; the bike scene is an example. Speaking of which (without spoiling anything), I am still wondering how E.T. managed to get those bikes to fly. This is also a problem, there are moments that just seem convenient that weren’t mentioned or explained previously. Another example is when (again I’m doing my best not to spoil anything) there is some deep connection between E.T. and Elliot but there is a point when something takes a toll on both of their conditions, which isn’t explained in the movie ever.

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The acting was okay by everyone. A lot of children are the main characters and they are well acted enough, they weren’t great performances but in comparison to some child actors of today, they are much better. However none of the performances made an impression or me and none of them stood out.

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This may just be a nitpick for me but I personally think that the filmmakers could have gone with a better design for E.T. I’m glad that it wasn’t of a small green alien (which a lot of representations of aliens are done like) but the look of E.T. really took me out of the movie; it looks like it came from the garbage compactor from Star Wars: A New Hope. The effects were good with the bike scene but there actually aren’t that many other moments with effects. The score for this by John Williams is pretty good but I wouldn’t say it is one of his best.

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E.T. isn’t a movie that I particularly love. I just wasn’t that attached to the characters and I had no emotional connection with anything in the movie. Despite this, countless people have been impacted by this movie; maybe they saw it in a critical part of their childhood; I will say that younger audiences will probably like it more than older people. If you haven’t watched it already, I recommend checking it out; even to just have an opinion on it. But keep in mind there is a chance that you may not like it as much as other people.