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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…
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…
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.
"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.
After an attempted hit on his brother by the mob a young man being associated with it (Joaquin Phoenix) is willing to turn sides and help the police to arrest a dangerous Russian criminal...
This is very compelling police drama set in the 80s which really shines in the acting department. For Mark Wahlberg you've got Robert Duvall and for Eva Mendes you've got Joaquin Phoenix both giving great performances here.
The plot takes some surprising turns for its genre and although only having three action sequences each one is executed very satisfactory. The wheat field setting makes a perfect location for the finale. I could have done without the epilogue and Wahlberg shouldn't be allowed to act at all but overall it's worth a watch for genre fans for sure.
Make or Break Scene: The finale.
MVT: Phoenix and Duvall.
Score: 7.5/ 10
Wanted to like this more, Gray maybe goes too subtle, but I could see myself diggin in more upon future screenings.
One of my favorite car chase sequences I've seen in awhile.
I'm not going to speculate what didn't satisfy the fans of crime/gangster thrillers but I could definitely feel the film from beginning to the end. It feels more like a piece of music that knows exactly when to quiet down and when to explode. It never feels like a roller coaster that most probably think they are going to see and perhaps that is exactly the reason. Don't get me wrong, the film is full of suspension and tight spots but there's loneliness in the cinematography. Warm colors of the night club and the cozy home of Russian "foster family" soon change into cold exteriors and when we finally go back in, the interiors don't feel that cozy anymore because…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I've been converted to the Church of Gray.
Grubby New York crime drama elevated to elegiac tragedy...a film about a man desperately trying to establish an identity for himself within rigid structures that present themselves as family; a makeshift family with the Russian mob, and a real one with the NYPD. Joaquin Phoenix's Bobby is a black sheep traversing this war between the cops and the drug-dealers in 1988, one of the city's fallow periods in terms of keeping its ever-widening soul clean. He hopes to carve out some independence by running a seedy Brooklyn nightclub, leaving behind the blue wall his father (Robert Duvall) and brother (Mark Wahlberg) defend with absolute authority. But circumstances send Bobby back to his…
I never watch a film twice in a day but I turned on James grays commentary and it was one of the best I've ever heard. Totally recommend
one of the best films of the 2000s
With the opening 15 minutes filled with grating dialogue drenched in cliché, I was shocked how much this quasi-epic grew on me. Gray is a director wholly invested in staging and atmosphere; more or less apathetic towards enjoyable dialogue and genre elements. Once I accepted this, it was far easier to absorb this as a movie more on the edge of masterpiece than conventional thriller.
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
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014, now updated every mid-April.
This is every Palme d'Or nominee since the…
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Note: some films were reviewed twice, once at a film festival and then were…