13 items from 2014
Just days after launching an Oscar campaign for “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” Harvey Weinstein is adding yet another film to his unpredictable roster of awards season contenders: James Gray’s 1920s period drama, “The Immigrant.”
The decision was likely influenced by the film’s star Marion Cotillard landing two more best actress prizes (from the Boston Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online) to a haul that already included a citation from the New York Film Critics Circle and a Spirit Awards nomination. As of Tuesday, The Weinstein Company had added “The Immigrant” to the list of films on its guild and Academy screening website. Two showings of the film will be held in Los Angeles, on Dec. 14 and 16. No screening dates have been announced for any other cities, and Academy voters have yet to receive physical or online screeners.
Until now, “The Immigrant” had »
- Scott Foundas
When “New York, New York” lyricist Fred Ebb wrote that immortal line, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” it’s doubtful he imagined the life-or-death stakes such sentiments take on in “A Most Violent Year,” an ’80s-era NYC crime drama in which just making it from one day to the next seems like a major accomplishment. In his third turn behind the camera, writer-director J.C. Chandor has delivered a tough, gritty, richly atmospheric thriller that lacks some of the formal razzle-dazzle of his solo seafaring epic, “All Is Lost,” but makes up for it with an impressively sustained low-boil tension and the skillful navigating of a complex plot (at least up until a wholly unnecessary last-minute twist). Like last fall’s “Out of the Furnace,” this solid, grown-up movie-movie is almost certainly too dark and moody to connect with a broad mainstream public or make major awards-season waves, »
- Scott Foundas
Writer/director James Gray’s outstanding new drama The Immigrant takes audiences back to a time when America encouraged other countries to send us their tired, poor, and huddled masses. Gray’s fifth film once again takes place in the New York of his previous work (Little Odessa, The Yards, We Own The Night, and Two Lovers) but this time he’s presented a period piece that is one of the best movies of 2014 so far.
The Immigrant begins in 1921 on Ellis Island, where Polish sisters Ewa and Magda Cybulski (Marion Cotillard and Angela Sarafyan) wait in line to be processed for entry into the New York port. Magda is quarantined, suspected of having contracted tuberculosis and there is murky reference to some “low moral” behavior on Ewa’s part while aboard the ship, so she is threatened with immediate deportation. Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix), a nicely-dressed observer in a bowler hat, »
- Tom Stockman
R, 1 Hr., 53 Mins.
The makings of a grand historical epic –sweeping drama, personal tragedy, real-life heroism –are all there in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2006 novel about the Nigerian civil war of the late 1960s. But instead of distilling the book, the movie races through it, leaving great performances (notably by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton as a wealthy, emotionally complicated couple) overwhelmed by the unrelenting march of heart-wrenching moments. B –Adam Markovitz
Ai Weiwei The Fake Case
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 29 Mins.
The daring Beijing artist is shown at rest in quiet »
- EW staff
“The Immigrant” stars the terrific cast of Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner, and the 1920s-set period piece is superficially something very different for filmmaker James Gray. Gone are the genre trappings, macho-male leads with guns, stories deeply connected to the pain and sadness of family, and the shrouded Gordon Willis-like photography the filmmaker evinced on films like "The Yards," "We Own The Night" and "Little Odessa." However, “The Immigrant,” with its themes of the fallacy of the American Dream, the desire to fit in and idea that no one is beyond redemption is very much a James Gray film. It’s a further continuation of a singular pursuit told slightly differently, retaining Gray’s signature sense of emotional intelligence, intimacy and graceful restraint. In 2013, “The Immigrant” was set to be a TWC-Radius/VOD release. Gray didn’t explain what happened exactly and why the film moved over »
- Rodrigo Perez
As we recently noted, filmmaker James Gray has only made five films in 20 years. That’s a positively low number, but Gray has had many hardships that distracted from his body of work. His debut “Little Odessa” won a major prize in 1994 at the Venice Film Festival and that jumpstarted his career, but obstacles both minor and major threatened to derail that momentum. For “The Yards,” he ran into the might of Harvey Weinstein and a compromised ending saw him booed at Cannes (Miramax subsequently dumped the film into a few theaters with barely a regular release). This beating was difficult and it took Gray seven years to follow it up with “We Own The Night,” which performed well at the box-office, but was marketed like a fairly generic cop movie and not the rich father and sons policier that it is. The romantic drama “Two Lovers” was also a success, »
- Rodrigo Perez
Here we go with another installment of my Spotlight on the Stars series. As a refresher for those of you who aren’t familiar with the series, each week I’ll look at an A-list actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some kind of a way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend (like most weeks, honestly) or just because I feel they deserve to have a moment in the sun, but each time out it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to. You can count on that much. For this week’s piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s most talented actors…Joaquin Phoenix. He’s definitely been an odd duck at times (just look at everything that surrounded his art experience/mockumentary I’m Still »
- Joey Magidson
Perhaps it’s appropriate that the director of “The Immigrant” has achieved more fame overseas than on his own shores.
In France, James Gray is practically a household name. Though he hails from New York — Queens to be exact — four of his five films have premiered at the Cannes Festival, and he has been nominated twice for the foreign film prize at France’s Cesar Awards. Even casual French film buffs know his resume. So why is Gray a virtual unknown to most Americans?
The director himself is a bit perplexed by his outsized international reputation, which began when his debut feature, the Brighton Beach-set crime thriller “Little Odessa,” was invited to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 1994, when Gray was 25. Six years after that came “The Yards,” about a man caught in the middle of a turf war in a Queens railroad yard, followed by crime drama “We Own the Night »
- Peter Debruge
Over the course of twenty years, filmmaker James Gray has only made five movies. For comparison, if you subtract Terrence Malick’s twenty-year absence from cinema, you roughly get six of his movies in a span of about twenty-one years. However, Gray didn’t go Awol in France for two decades; he just obsessed over the same project for years and years. The span between debut "Little Odessa" (1994) and his sophomore film "The Yards" (2000) was six years, and another seven years passed until "We Own The Night" (2007). “It’s because I’m an insane person,” Gray said in a recent interview with The Playlist. “For all my weaknesses, I never give up on getting a movie made.” Early versions of “The Yards” had Robert De Niro and Sean Penn attached (Mark Wahlberg, James Caan and Joaquin Phoenix would eventually star) and Brad Pitt danced around the lead in “We Own The Night »
- Rodrigo Perez
James Gray has operated in classic Hollywood territory before, both with his Coppola-esque crime dramas "The Yards" and "We Own the Night" and his excellent 2008 film "Two Lovers," which wouldn't seem out of place next to the character-driven New Hollywood likes of "Five Easy Pieces" or "Scarecrow." Read More: 'The Immigrant' Director James Gray to his Cannes Critics: 'They Can Go Fuck Themselves' But Gray's much-awaited new film "The Immigrant" looks like a throwback to the great melodramas of the past, with comparisons from the film's supporters ranging from Roberto Rossellini's Ingrid Bergman collaborations to Elia Kazan. The film stars Marion Cotillard as a Polish immigrant who starts working as a prostitute for Joaquin Phoenix as a way to bring her quarantined sister into the country. The stirring new trailer showcases Darius Khondji's stunning photography, not to mention impressive-looking work from Cotillard, Phoenix and Jeremy Renner as Phoenix's magician cousin. »
- Max O'Connell
The Immigrant made its debut at Cannes last year and has reunited director James Gray with Joaquin Phoenix for the fourth time, after they previously worked together on We Own The Night, Two Lovers and The Yards.
We already previously heard that Gray wrote this role specifically for Cotillard, who here plays Ewa Cybulski, a woman who sails to New York with her sister from their native Poland in search of a new start. However, when they reach Ellis Island, the doctors discover that Magda is ill, and they are separated.
Out on her own, Ewa quickly falls prey to Bruno (Phoenix), a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. The arrival of Orlando (Jeremy Renner) – a dashing stage magician - restores her self-belief and hopes for a brighter future, becoming her only chance to escape the nightmare in which she finds herself.
- Dan Bullock
Writer/director James Gray has explored brotherhood with real depth over his career. From We Own the Night to the The Yards, Gray shows a deep understanding for unconditional love. He knows how to make cliches feel honest, like two brothers on the opposite sides of the law. Gray slyly subverted that idea in We Own the Night, a drama that went unnoticed in 2007. Blood Ties, which Gray co-wrote with the film’s director Guillaume Canet, will likely go unnoticed as well, but for very different reasons. Unlike We Own the Night, Canet’s film shows no interest in reinventing the wheel or putting down any personal stamp. When the protagonists at the center of Blood Ties make the tough decisions, Gray and Canet are unwilling to do the same with their by-the-number crime picture. Ever since Chris (Clive Owen) and Frank (Billy Crudup) were kids they’ve been different. Chris »
- Jack Giroux
James Gray has directed a total of five films over the past two decades, and while a movie every four years isn’t too shabby it’s also not quite a workmanlike pace either. He takes his time on personal projects like The Yards or divisive, subversive ones like We Own the Night. He’s an American filmmaker we don’t talk about often enough, but 2014 may change all that seeing as he’s attached in varying capacity to two different films. April will see the release of his latest directorial effort, The Immigrant, and a month earlier a film he co-wrote, Blood Ties, will hit theaters. Both films premiered at the Cannes film festival last year, a festival that’s always welcomed Gray’s work, and our Shaun Munro was mixed on Blood Ties, calling its 144 minute runtime “wholly excessive – even counter-productive – to telling this story. Furthermore, though Blood Ties will be no doubt be marketed »
- Jack Giroux
13 items from 2014
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