...This brutal pie-in-the-face is so blunt and abrupt that, in the half-dozen times that I saw the movie theatrically, I heard more than a few shocked half-laughs. The film is funny, queasily funny in the way that Scorsese’s movies habitually are—anyone expressing surprise that The Wolf of Wall Street was an outright comedy only showed that they hadn’t been paying much attention.
For almost the first two-thirds of Martin Scorsese's 168-minute Gangs of New York, I was entranced. I felt like I was watching a boys' bloodthirsty adventure story--a blend of pirate saga, 19th-century revenge tale (three parts Dumas to one part Hugo), sword-and-sandal romp, and Viking epic poem, all laced with references to works ranging from Orson Welles's claustrophobic Macbeth to Pieter Brueghel's spacious Slaughter of the Innocents.
For all its excesses, its tableaus piled upon tableaus, its elaborate set pieces that open up into even more elaborate set pieces, the film is just as eager to empty the stage and switch to a spotlight. That’s literally what happens for the film’s centerpiece scene, in which a seated, effectively motionless Cutting monologue consolidates the full expanse of the project’s themes and ideas...