New Years Resolution – June

Along with watching a movie once a month with my brother. I get to watch their new puppy Tessa growing into a nice dog. She sits nicely next to me and I can pet her as we watch.

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THE DOG WHISPERER

She has not been instructed, however, about the social implications of photobombing. C’est la vie.

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So it was my pick this month. Last month was the “Apple Dumpling Gang” and I wanted to pick a movie that connected somehow with that one. I suppose I could have found an apple movie. It would have been harder to find a dumpling movie. But I settled on a gang movie.

We watched the “Gangs of New York”. I had not educated myself on the movie beforehand. I had only seen gory snippets and was not sure if I wanted to watch the whole thing but almost any movie is good when you watch it with someone. Even if it is a bad movie and you can be entertained by poking fun at it. The point was to watch it together.

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We had a few technical difficulties with this one. We started by watching the movie with the dialogue in a foreign language. No problem – it was a flashback scene and they were being authentic, we thought. Then it continued and continued. Hmm. Jeff checked the language setting and noticed that we had been watching it in Russian. He chose ‘English’ and things were easier to understand after that. : )

The copy that Jeff had had some digital issues with jiggedy images so the picture went wonky from time to time. He got a better copy and we watched the rest of the movie glad to know that it was not ‘snowing’ quite as much as it seemed.

I love Roger Ebert’s take on it and he said it way better than I could.

Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” rips up the postcards of American history and reassembles them into a violent, blood-soaked story of our bare-knuckled past. The New York it portrays in the years between the 1840s and the Civil War is, as a character observes, “the forge of hell,” in which groups clear space by killing their rivals. Competing fire brigades and police forces fight in the streets, blacks and Irish are chased by mobs, and Navy ships fire on the city as the poor riot against the draft.

The movie is straightforward in its cynicism about democracy at that time. Tammany Hall buys and sells votes, ethnic groups are delivered by their leaders, and when the wrong man is elected sheriff he does not serve for long. That American democracy emerged from this cauldron is miraculous. The result is a considerable achievement, a revisionist history linking the birth of American democracy and American crime. It is instructive to be reminded that modern America was forged not in quiet rooms by great men in wigs, but in the streets, in the clash of immigrant groups, in a bloody Darwinian struggle.

Looking forward to next month.

 

 

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