The Yards Review: The Understated Richness of James Gray’s Crime Drama


The Yards is a very personal statement from director James Gray, but it also shows where the American filmmaker’s delicate and painterly style has found itself more fully realized. It’s a personal testament for him, especially in its own setting within the train yards of New York City – but how the backdrop even plays a big factor in allowing something so grand and cathartic to come forward also says a lot for what the filmmaker can be like at his very best. This only being the American filmmaker’s sophomore film, The Yards is a very special sort of crime drama, one whose most beautiful moments have went completely understated, yet there’s always something to be drawn into. If there’s ever a more fitting description for the work of James Gray, you can already feel as if the core of what makes his films so beautiful is there, but maybe it’s not flashy – though I think they’re better off that way. And fittingly enough, I felt convinced enough that I had for the longest time been underestimating his work.

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The Immigrant – Review


There are so many things about The Immigrant that would almost ring as appealing towards my own sensibilities: whether it be from the setting or the film’s leading performances, and yet everything feels only as if half of a promise is delivered. This was my own introduction to the work of James Gray as a whole and from there onward, I’ve only run into a series of disappointments as I try my best to warm up to his own aesthetic but I can never find myself drawn into how they tell their stories. I recognize that James Gray’s films have their admirers but aside from a few exceptions I’m on the other side of the fence, for he has always remained a filmmaker that I try to warm up to rather than one whose work captivates me on the spot. Hoping I’d enjoy The Immigrant more after having been taken back by the theatrical experience of The Lost City of Z, what happened instead as a result was reaffirmation in regards to my general indifference towards Gray’s work.

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Little Odessa – Review


Feels at its very core like groundwork, but it isn’t especially surprising to me considering the fact it was only James Gray’s debut film. Considering his own tendencies were still in growth here, it was only fitting that Little Odessa was in fact his own debut but it shares a common trait that has always bothered me so greatly about his work. They aren’t badly made films at all, but I try my best and no matter what, I just can’t find myself getting into them. Little Odessa is yet another one of those cases but the fact it’s only his debut feels very clear because right next to his other films, it still feels just like he’s working to form his trademarks on the spot. It hints only at what would be a promising filmmaker but on its own it doesn’t really stand out or do anything fairly remarkable. This won’t be the last James Gray film I watch after my fondness of The Lost City of Z, but I’m not sold in on his work yet.

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The Lost City of Z – Review


James Gray’s films have always been a struggle for me to get into, so The Lost City of Z wasn’t one I was looking forward to so readily. The sort of material that Gray was set to cover in here wasn’t something I would have expected of him so I was hoping my issues with his body of work would be infrequent here. Thankfully it was the case with The Lost City of Z and as a result, a great film had come right out. For not only is The Lost City of Z the most ambitious that I have seen James Gray reaching through his career as of yet from what I have been able to catch, it also rings back to a classic era of adventure films with its own eerie spin – one if anything that helped in making a great theatrical experience inside of itself, and maybe more.

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