Gangs of New York – Stokes
For me, it’s got to be Gangs of New York. This is kind of a funny film to list as your ultimate definition of “… meh,” because nothing is “meh” about it. Everything is either fan-freaking-tastic (especially Daniel Day Lewis’s character) or deeply, deeply horrible (especially Cameron Diaz’s character). If I’m channel surfing and I find myself watching one of the bad scenes, I convulsively change the channel by pure motor reflex alone before I even realize what I’m watching, sort of the way that your hand pulls back from a hot stove a split second before you even feel the pain. If I happen to hit one of the great scenes (which make up less of the film by volume, but are somehow, uh, denser), I stop and settle in, because I know I’m going to watch it all the way through to the end. I have done this at least three times, once after randomly landing on the opening fight scene, once after landing on the scene where Daniel Day Lewis wraps himself with the American flag, and once after landing on the scene where he taps his eye with a knife. (Just thinking about that scene kind of gets me excited. His EYE! With a KNIFE! Even knowing it’s a prop knife, and a prop eye, that’s just all kinds of bad-ass.)
Each time, though, as the stupid fadey-in-out skyline shot appeared, and the lame late-period U2 song faded up over the credits, I was left with a curiously vacant feeling. Had I enjoyed this movie? Had I hated it? All I could say with certainty is that time had passed. Gangs of New York is the eating-a-whole-giant-bag-of-olestra-potato-chips of movies. Theoretically, there’s enough “cinematic nourishment” there to feed a family of four for a week! But that fails to take into account the resultant “cinematic explosive diarrhea,” which makes the whole thing a zero sum game, and ultimately a waste of 167 minutes. If only it had been a little better! Or just a little worse! As it is, it’s simply nothing… a perfect benchmark.
p.s. Gosh, I’m sorry about that metaphor, guys. It’s gross… and also unfair, because as I’m sure some of you know, the intestinal distress caused by eating a whole giant bag of olestra potato chips lasts waaaaay longer than 167 minutes.
p.p.s. Also, now I feel kind of weird about using the phrase “all kinds of bad-ass” earlier in the post. Oh well, nothing to do about it now.