6 items from 2013
Gray's 1920s Ellis Island tale, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, has been called the most divisive film at this year's Cannes, where it premiered in competition Friday night. He made it, he says, aspiring to "the absolute commitment to the emotion of the moment."
"It's very unhip, by the way, to do that," Gray said in an interview Saturday at a hotel on the Croisette. "There is no postmodern irony, which I'm sure is totally infuriating to some. What lasts is what we're talking about. What lasts is extending our sympathies. That, to me, is what lasts."
Cotillard stars as a Polish immigrant who arrives at New York's Ellis Island (shot on location) in 1921 with her sister. After her sister is sent to the infirmary, »
Cannes - James Gray has always made period films – it’s just that they haven’t always been set in the past. Since arriving on the scene as a precocious 25-year-old with his Venice-laurelled 1994 debut “Little Odessa,” the New Yorker has unobtrusively fostered a reputation as one of the American cinema’s last true classicists, his writing and visual storytelling alike distinguished by an unfashionable emotional sincerity and matte polish – virtues that the French have embraced far more openly over the years than Gray’s compatriots. Gray is, to some extent, repaying that Continental loyalty with “The Immigrant,” a painstakingly restrained but »
- Guy Lodge
James Gray’s long-awaited period drama, “The Immigrant,” finally screened in Cannes early this morning. Featuring the excellent cast of Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner, “The Immigrant” centers on a conniving pimp (Phoenix) who manipulates a destitute Polish immigrant (Cotillard) into a life of prostitution. Saddled with a sick sister, she works to pay for her medicine and her dismal life seems hopeless until a curious magician (Renner) enters it. Our reviewer called the film “carefully poised and slowly building to a resonant climax,” and that sounds like a James Gray film alright. Mostly unappreciated at home in the United States (but beloved in France), Gray generally makes melodramatic family tragedies disguised as crime dramas (“Little Odessa,” “The Yards,” “We Own The Night”), but “The Immigrant” is somewhat of a gear shift, with its 1920s period setting and having a woman as the lead character. While Joaquin Phoenix »
- Rodrigo Perez
In 1994, at age 25, James Gray won the Silver Lion at the 1994 Venice Film Festival with his directorial debut Little Odessa, a film about a hit man confronted by his younger brother upon returning to his hometown. Ever since, James Gray has won over critics with every film he’s released since, including the noir, The Yards, and the cop thriller, We Own the Night which received widely divergent reviews when it played in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Now he is back with his fifth feature, The Immigrant, which also has been selected to compete for the Palme d’Or.
Oscar winner Marion Cotillard joins two Oscar nominees: Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix, a Gray regular, having also appeared in the director’s last three films. As with Gray’s last film, 2008′s Two Lovers, the director co-wrote the script with the late Ric Menello, famous for his hip-hop collaborations. »
Gist: An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.
Prediction: There were some rumblings last week that this wouldn’t make the cut for some reason, but we think there’d have to have been some kind of major fallout or disaster to have occurred behind closed doors (who’s doors I do not know) for this to be Gray’s first film since Little Odessa to not play in Cannes’ Main Competition; it’s been finished for at least six months (clip was shown at Telluride), just waiting for mid-May to arrive. Not yet a prize-winner, we also have a hunch that Gray’s losing streak will finally come to an end this year.
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- Blake Williams
Director: James Gray
Writer(s): Gray and Ric Menello
U.S. Distributor: The Weinstein Co.
There are some cinephile circles who’ve come to think that James Gray is in a class of his own or that he is on par with the likes of PTA, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky and co. While there are several admirable strengths in Little Odessa and the three films that have followed (I’ve especially embraced the darker, more nuanced qualities that remind of 70′s American Independent cinema) but the filmmaker has yet to topple over into masterpiece category – perhaps it is in the year where his output is a total of two (he wrote Blood Ties) where we’ll see him receive accolades from all critics circles and not just the French. »
- Eric Lavallee
6 items from 2013
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