The title: Angela's Ashes refers to cigarettes and not cremation. If someone had told me this before I had entered the film, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. Then again, if someone had told me about the rest of the film, I might have asked for a final cigarette before going in to Angela's Ashes.
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In the opening moments of Martin Scorsese's American history epic "Gangs of New York," a galvanized band of 19th Century Irish immigrants, armed to the teeth with axes and swords, emerges from a catacomb hideout beneath an abandoned brewery and kick open a shabby wooden door to reveal an amazing sight: the vast, almost frontier-like streets of lower Manhattan, circa 1846, brought to life in such exacting detail that you can almost smell the horse plop on the muddy roads.
This single shot does wonders for establishing the heavy, gritty, treacherous atmosphere of the muscle-ruled Five Points area in which the film is set. It's a place where falsely accused people are hung by crooked cops to set examples for petty criminals and where fire brigades duke it out in front of burning buildings to determine who gets to fight the fire.
Leading the pack of Irish bruisers is the stouthearted Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), who is subsequently killed in the ensuing violent, snow-bloodying street battle by William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) -- leader of The Natives, an vicious anti-immigrant gang, who leaves Vallon's young son, Amsterdam, one angry orphan.
Continue reading: Gangs Of New York Review