This is my personal counter-list to YouTube reviewer Chris Stuckmann's selections from his book The Film Buff's Bucket List. I…
We Own the Night
Two brothers on opposite sides of the law. Beyond their differences lies loyalty.
A New York nightclub manager tries to save his brother and father from Russian mafia hitmen.
We Own the Night is James Gray’s austere, no-nonsense neo-noir set against a sepia tone, cocaine-fueled, late ‘80s New York nightscape that is part brooding crime saga and part familial melodrama, spearheaded by an impressively imposing lead performance from the fierce Joaquin Phoenix. This is the second of three collaborative efforts of Gray and Phoenix, a director / actor team which I find very effective and riveting to behold (I have yet to see The Yards however). The story is textbook noir, one that is undeniably straightforward and traditionally structured, yet thematically rich and engaging. Gray infuses art house sensibilities with action thriller tropes, resulting in what looks like a modern drug epic yet deep inside is actually pure, classic…
gray takes the oft underdeveloped familial ties of the gangster genre & instead turns into the central story -- the violence/consequences of a scorsese or coppola are there, but also a unique, underlying tenderness & sensitivity that permeates as bobby is forced to betray his chosen family for his blue-blooded one. phoenix is an absolute marvel to watch as his features shift from scene-to-scene; it's tragic seeing his smiles & warm colors be drained out of him simply because he wanted a loving family. also features one of the best opening transitions ever - brutal still photos of late 80s cops frozen in time (a moody, noir-ish jazz playing in the back) juxtaposed with pheonix strutting toward a ravishing mendes to blondie's heart of glass. some choices are easy, man.
James Gray's We Own The Night takes a simple premise and works it into an entertaining crime film with several strong performances and Joaquin Phoenix showing just what a great actor he really is. Backed by big names Robert Duvall and both Mark Wahlberg and Eva Mendes, this film sees family loyalties stretched to breaking point as brothers straddle both sides of the law.
Set back in 1988, Joaquin's Bobby Green is the manager of a night club in Brooklyn and lives his life as he sees fit. He likes a drink, likes the odd line, and enjoys the public acclaim as one of the cool faces around the neighborhood. The club however is being frequented by Russian gangsters related…
"Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6."
As a fan of James Gray's The Yards, I was actually looking forward to another police drama. Most cop related films/shows end up being mediocre or down right boring like Law and Order. So, Rotten Tomatoes' meaningless score of 55% didn't stop me from giving this film a look. Most of the performances were good with the exception of the always useless Eva Mendes. Phoenix and Wahlberg work well together even if Phoenix overshadows his co stars. There's a real sense of progression with these characters that manage to change significantly by the film's conclusion.
Now while most things were foreseeable, the ending surprised me in a way. I expected…
America just before it stopped producing anything (except money, for a while, then debt). cops the last of ravaged lower middle class.
So many Godfather homages forget how intimately-shot (in 1.85:1) that movie is (including some of James Gray's other films), and the filmmakers base the visual style off how they remember that movie being, an epic so it must be shot in 2.35:1. But this gets the visual style of Godfather absolutely right, to the point that it resembles a shot-for-shot remake with a completely different story.
From the lukewarm reviews and studio backing, I was expecting this to be Gray's "sellout" movie, but it's not that at all, it's a really great crime drama with at least three excellently-directed and -shot action sequences (my favorite is the finale with all the wheat, the tremendous amount of wheat). That Joaquin Phoenix can brood like no one's business.
So much better than I remember.
James Gray nails both the family drama and the crime drama in this way better than he did in The Yards.
I might have to go back to that now, see if it's more impressive on a rewatch.
I also enjoyed the period look. The little details that made it even better. Came across like a forgotten Lumet movie with the way it portrayed the police and New York City.
It's a familiar story, but it's elevated by some great central performances. Phoenix is MVP, of course, but Wahlberg makes an impression and even Eva Mendes makes the most out of a typical gangsters moll role.
This movie definitely owned my night! <3
A gorgeous texture of pouring rain, entangled wheat fields, silent alleyways and gritty 80s aesthetic encompassing a simple yet effective narrative of cops vs criminals, or more thematically; family vs self-preservation, stability vs recklessness. Gray shoots the incomparable Phoenix in a constant battle against his own desires from the opening scene. We begin with old school black and white pictures of cops upholding the law, before immediately cutting to Bobby and girlfriend Eva Mendes getting it on. This is Bobby’s natural dichotomy: his constant battle with himself between decadent pleasure and the uptight law abiding citizen he was moulded to be. Not the most unique idea ever but Phoenix is so good, and Gray shoots the opening nightclub scenes with…
The car chase in the rain is a terrific example of what James Gray brings to the genre. I can't think of a car chase scene that utilized inclement weather outside of Jurassic Park, but it's pretty effecting how it tinges the adrenaline with dread, frustration, and claustrophobia. Whether it's rain, smoke, or tall grass, there are plenty of visual metaphors here for not knowing where the threat is, and when it will strike. Cliches are sometimes utilized here, but often they're turned on their heads... The Goodfellas glamour of the club, offset by the unannounced raid, culminating in the cops force feeding patrons charcoal. The antagonists quickly find the hero's wire. Mark Wahlberg gets shot in the face, and…
I tend to like most projects that Joaquin Phoenix is involved in, and We Own The Night is no exception.
We Own The Night might come off as rather brutal, but below that there's a story with depth and characters you care about. This might be Director James Grays finest work to date.
Well cast and well acted, We Own The Night is a good watch and would cater to most police drama fans.
An enjoyable film despite being archetypical of its genre and being very "Hollywood" in its execution.
Conflito dualista em crime e policia, irmão e irmão voltando a confirmar o Cinema de Gray como a máxima da mise-en-scene que parte desse choque.
Pretty terrific for what it is, actually.
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014, now updated every mid-April.
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