caught between the moon and magnolia porter

basically the main thing on this tumblr is me being a douchebag and talking about dumb shit all the time.

oh also some drawings i made i guess

you can read my webcomic here you'll probably like it! it's called Monster Pulse and its about a bunch of kids whose body parts become fighting monsters.

Aug 24
Gangs Of New York.  2002. The eighteenth film. 
It’s fitting that the antagonist of Gangs of New York is called “Bill the Butcher”; the film itself is like a butcher’s diagram of early New York, with every bloody piece cleanly laid out and clearly labeled. Although the New York in the film is (thankfully) unrecognizeable compared to New York of today, each setting is helpfully labeled with streets and cross-streets, giving a viewer familiar with the city the somewhat unsettling sensation of realizing they have a friend who lives on the street where a character is being disemboweled.
Unlike a butcher’s diagram, the movie is full of life and excitement, due to the passionate love displayed for the city and its history- even though the film focuses on a particularly dark period of New York history: early immigration and the gang wars of the Five Points.
Like any stylish, exciting gang movie, it’s fun to learn about the different factions and the colorful characters in them. The gangs have unique stylistic quirks and bloody backstories of their own, detailed just enough to build an interesting world without being bogged down in too much details. The film slaps characters down on the cutting block before going to work on them with a sharp edge. 
Each gang is grounded in historical accuracy, and the film doesn’t forget or gloss over the horror of what these real people did to each other. Gorey violence in film is easy to forgive of the characters on screen, but racism and abuse less so, and Scorsese doesn’t let the audience forget that such things are going on. Bill the Butcher is a memorable, exciting character with something resembling a redemption arc, but the ugly racism and nationalism that defines his character are never forgotten or shoved under the rug. The excitement of the bloody free-for-alls is made slightly darker with the knowledge that these were real people who really did these things, and that tension is masterfully used to keep the stakes high.
This film was considered Scorsese’s comeback, and it’s easy to see why. It represents a huge evolution, taking all the themes and subjects he’s been passionate about throughout his career and applying the style, confidence and elevated visual flair he’d learned in the past few decades. A 3 hour historical epic about the violent history or immigrants in the Five Points is far beyond the scope of what Scorsese attempted in the early years, and he pulls it off with assurance.
There is no end to visual creativity in this film- from the vast, breathtaking birds-eye shots of 1800s New York sprawled out beneath the camera, to the poetic way the floating white ashes in the climactic brawl evoke the snowy streets in the film’s first battle, to the simple but striking shot of the Butcher’s false eye with a metal eagle for a pupil.
Some of his old and oft-revisited themes are found here, particularly the one of “a self-inflicted betrayal”. Protagonist Leonardo DiCaprio and villain Daniel Day-Lewis would have what amounts to a genuine father-son relationship if the cycle of revenge didn’t keep them looking over their shoulder. Although DiCaprio wants revenge on Day-Lewis for the murder of his father, one wonders if he would ever had gone through with it if Day-Lewis hadn’t struck first to try to prevent that from happening.
The film is striking, passionate, exciting, and slightly unnerving, as it makes the point that the city of New York is built on the bones of these desperate, violent men. By the end of the film coffins line familiar streets, all victims of gang wars, and it’s been made clear that those already oppressed in society all the time suffered the absolute worst during the violence. But another favorite Scorsese theme is the notion that wonderful things can be made from something horrible. Despite all the carnage, it’s impossible not to feel thrilled at the sight of the city of New York rising triumphantly from the graveyard.
Emotionally, Gangs of New York didn’t affect me the way a film like Goodfellas did. DiCaprio’s protagonist is a little dry and one-dimensional, and while Bill the Butcher is a great character who steals the film, he’s not quite deep enough to get truly invested in. But the story of the gang wars itself is both invigorating and relentlessly grim, and the world in which it takes place is beautiful and full of details to explore.
Anthony Lane once compared the sight of Scorsese asking for “a camera that moves” to “Rembrandt asking if he could have a little bit of brown.” As of Gangs of New York, Scorsese has established himself as a master of filmmaking, and the only thing left is to wait and see what more stories he wants to tell.
I may also add that Gangs of New York was the last of Scorsese’s narrative films I had yet to see; the rest are all movies I have seen before. It’s been a pleasure doing this project and watching the progress of a filmmaker I love. Nothing I write here is hyperbole; he really is that good. Thanks for reading along with me as I did this; we’ve only got a few films left, and it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Next: The Aviator
Previous: Bringing Out the Dead.
Full movie list

Gangs Of New York.  2002. The eighteenth film. 

It’s fitting that the antagonist of Gangs of New York is called “Bill the Butcher”; the film itself is like a butcher’s diagram of early New York, with every bloody piece cleanly laid out and clearly labeled. Although the New York in the film is (thankfully) unrecognizeable compared to New York of today, each setting is helpfully labeled with streets and cross-streets, giving a viewer familiar with the city the somewhat unsettling sensation of realizing they have a friend who lives on the street where a character is being disemboweled.

Unlike a butcher’s diagram, the movie is full of life and excitement, due to the passionate love displayed for the city and its history- even though the film focuses on a particularly dark period of New York history: early immigration and the gang wars of the Five Points.

Like any stylish, exciting gang movie, it’s fun to learn about the different factions and the colorful characters in them. The gangs have unique stylistic quirks and bloody backstories of their own, detailed just enough to build an interesting world without being bogged down in too much details. The film slaps characters down on the cutting block before going to work on them with a sharp edge. 

Each gang is grounded in historical accuracy, and the film doesn’t forget or gloss over the horror of what these real people did to each other. Gorey violence in film is easy to forgive of the characters on screen, but racism and abuse less so, and Scorsese doesn’t let the audience forget that such things are going on. Bill the Butcher is a memorable, exciting character with something resembling a redemption arc, but the ugly racism and nationalism that defines his character are never forgotten or shoved under the rug. The excitement of the bloody free-for-alls is made slightly darker with the knowledge that these were real people who really did these things, and that tension is masterfully used to keep the stakes high.

This film was considered Scorsese’s comeback, and it’s easy to see why. It represents a huge evolution, taking all the themes and subjects he’s been passionate about throughout his career and applying the style, confidence and elevated visual flair he’d learned in the past few decades. A 3 hour historical epic about the violent history or immigrants in the Five Points is far beyond the scope of what Scorsese attempted in the early years, and he pulls it off with assurance.

There is no end to visual creativity in this film- from the vast, breathtaking birds-eye shots of 1800s New York sprawled out beneath the camera, to the poetic way the floating white ashes in the climactic brawl evoke the snowy streets in the film’s first battle, to the simple but striking shot of the Butcher’s false eye with a metal eagle for a pupil.

Some of his old and oft-revisited themes are found here, particularly the one of “a self-inflicted betrayal”. Protagonist Leonardo DiCaprio and villain Daniel Day-Lewis would have what amounts to a genuine father-son relationship if the cycle of revenge didn’t keep them looking over their shoulder. Although DiCaprio wants revenge on Day-Lewis for the murder of his father, one wonders if he would ever had gone through with it if Day-Lewis hadn’t struck first to try to prevent that from happening.

The film is striking, passionate, exciting, and slightly unnerving, as it makes the point that the city of New York is built on the bones of these desperate, violent men. By the end of the film coffins line familiar streets, all victims of gang wars, and it’s been made clear that those already oppressed in society all the time suffered the absolute worst during the violence. But another favorite Scorsese theme is the notion that wonderful things can be made from something horrible. Despite all the carnage, it’s impossible not to feel thrilled at the sight of the city of New York rising triumphantly from the graveyard.

Emotionally, Gangs of New York didn’t affect me the way a film like Goodfellas did. DiCaprio’s protagonist is a little dry and one-dimensional, and while Bill the Butcher is a great character who steals the film, he’s not quite deep enough to get truly invested in. But the story of the gang wars itself is both invigorating and relentlessly grim, and the world in which it takes place is beautiful and full of details to explore.

Anthony Lane once compared the sight of Scorsese asking for “a camera that moves” to “Rembrandt asking if he could have a little bit of brown.” As of Gangs of New York, Scorsese has established himself as a master of filmmaking, and the only thing left is to wait and see what more stories he wants to tell.

I may also add that Gangs of New York was the last of Scorsese’s narrative films I had yet to see; the rest are all movies I have seen before. It’s been a pleasure doing this project and watching the progress of a filmmaker I love. Nothing I write here is hyperbole; he really is that good. Thanks for reading along with me as I did this; we’ve only got a few films left, and it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Next: The Aviator

Previous: Bringing Out the Dead.

Full movie list


  1. evaporatingmemory reblogged this from magnoliapearl and added:
    Came for the arts stayed for the intimate discussion of film
  2. rincewitch reblogged this from magnoliapearl
  3. magnoliapearl posted this