Doesn't have Gray's visual literary feast of richly detailed and dramatically evoking visuals, but The Yards offers a delicatessen of dramatic depth. The story is generally familiar in situations and emotional turning points, but the screenplay has this patience for development, and such scenes as the hospital scene deliver not just the tension and nail-biting goods, but creates great conflict and raises the stakes.
***1/2, honestly, but Gray and his performer/editor collabs are very good in the moment-by-moment, even working with this threadbare yarn, at extracting the dark richness -- the melodrama, really, w/ Howard Shore's deep-currents help -- from what he's spinning. Extra 1/2* for Savides's elevating contributions, which are exceptionally fluent as usual, and exactly what's called for in Gray's story-mining operation.
A powerful crime drama like we rarely see. James Gray is a director who really cares about his characters whether they are good or bad. A great reminder for how a good actor Mark Wahlberg is. A forgotten modern masterwork of American cinema. A strong 4.5 stars.
"As I watched all these Othello-like machinations play themselves out, I decided that Gray [bit] off more than [he] could chew. ...Was too much to expect The Yards to take on a Stendhalian irony? After all, Leo was gotten off the hook by a breathtakingly Machiavellian maneuver.... Couldn’t Leo have just smiled and accepted this lesson in life? No, he was just too boringly good for that." - Andrew. Sarris, NY Observer
My first foray into James Gray finally but really enjoyed the pace and choice to have the quiet moments feel the loudest even when there are more physically violent moments in the film. But the real violence is in the choices the characters make and they way in which they choose to communicate with each other. What they choose to say and take priority of is the violent act here.
A fine example of American Cinema, with all of its conventions, but without graphic violence or pandering. James Gray's Queens and Brooklyn dramas are a body of work that honor those Boroughs with character and distinction and make the viewer feel as though they were our home, not just his. 4++
A solid movie but certainly nothing that I have not seen before. Fine performances by an all star cast which perhaps is part of the problem - I know who these people are and good as they are - they are still who they really are. Did that make sense? Good as Charlize Theron is as Erica she is still Charlize Theron NOT Erica. I was glad I saw it but feel if I had not - I really wouldn't have missed anything special.
Just as good as when I saw it in 2000. The tone, the performances, the camera work, the gritty production design, the pared down script. My one issue remains with the tiring depiction of such a rigid patriarchal separation of men and women. Men rule the outside world; women rule the roost; and you can tell an honest man because he dotes on his mother. Amusing record-setting response times of the police to alarms!
Despite a great cast, none of the characters evolve in any way over the course of the film. Joaquin is the flippant narcissist, Mark is the unlucky introvert and there were obvious hints at the past relationship between him and Charlize Theron's character almost immediately. The dingy cinematography had a noir-ish tint at times, but I was never really blown away by any particular shot or sequence.
I really liked it! I wish I had somebody to watch it with, nah. I'm at work. It's 4:00 AM here and a lonely place, like the night watchman, at the Yards. That crushingly sensitive moment, for the cousin to offer his love to his Mom when she needs him, and that old hand of hers, like a claw, for her Nephew... well I won't forget that too soon!