Author Topic: James Gray  (Read 11731 times)

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Pas

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James Gray
« on: April 12, 2010, 10:40:30 AM »
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Didn't find his thread if he has one...

I think he's an extremely talented director but a pretty weak writer. Especially in We Own the Night, which was basically a really fucking stupid movie that looked awesome. I mean, Joaquin Pheonix, a guy who was a bartender his whole life, becomes top cop in like a week. That's some shit straight out of a Steven Seagal movie. Did he have secret special ops training or what?

The Yards had a great mood and it also looked awesome. But the story was a bit boring, especially the parts with Whalberg's mom. Who gives a shit, have a heart attack really I don't care. Also Charlize Theron looks weird in it. For a guy who always seem to cast the same actors in his movies (good thing) I'm glad he didn't invite her back.

Especially in Two Lovers. I don't like Gwyneth all that much but it would've sucked to have Charlize Theron in her role. Now Two Lovers is definitely his best one yet. Some might say Little Odessa, I thought it was pretty damn good too, but not as much as Two Lovers.

Let's talk a bit about Little Odessa before Two Lovers. It was good, and Tim Roth and Furlong are cool actors. Tim Roth to me is like a really better Paul Giamatti. I don't like Giamatti all that much, really. He's a bit too much, with his look and all. He can play a loser good, though. Probably better than Tim Roth. But in a film like Shoot 'em up I would've preferred Tim Roth. Whatever not what I'm talking about.

So Little Odessa looks great, as usual with Gray. But for a russian mob and hitman film, it really lacks violence and shit like that. I was really pumped for a kickass film and it turned out to be some family and shame meditation or something. Kinda boring.

So Two Lovers is the best. It's weirdly the first film in my life that really blew me away by it's composition and stuff like that. I mean, it looks really, really good. The story is pretty weak in the middle part but the end is so fucking awesome it's pretty insane. Probably my favorite movie ending of the decade (I mean, it's the best except the old films when they really knew how to make a fucking good ending, take the Asphalt Jungle for example or Bob Le Flambeur)

Now apparently Gray is doing Alphabet City. I bet you it will be his best one, even better than Two Lovers. The subject is really, really good (an undercover journalist in New York writing about drugs and crime and shit)... Gray is probably writing it BUT it's adapted from a novel so the story should be good I guess. It's probably gonna star Joaquin Pheonix (hopefully) so yeah should be good.


wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2011, 07:52:36 PM »
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James Gray's 'Low Life' Script Draws Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
via Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: We Own The Night writer/director James Gray is fast mobilizing his next film. It's called Low Life, and it will star Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, with Jeremy Renner in discussions to play the third lead. The project is being packaged by CAA. Several financiers are in the mix, but I hear that Wild Bunch will likely get it.  Discussions are also taking place with domestic distributors, and that deal is expected to be sealed shortly. The Hurt Locker's Greg Shapiro is producing.

I'm told that Cotillard will play a woman attempting to immigrate from Poland. Her American dream turns into a nightmare. While sailing to Ellis Island and a new start, her sister grows deathly ill and she is forced to trade sexual favors for medicine and food to keep her sister alive. Once they land, she is warned to keep quiet about what happened. Though she does, she walks away with immigration papers that deem her a woman with bad morals. With no place to go, she falls prey to a charming sleazebag (Phoenix), who persuades her to turn tricks in New York. Renner is close to signing on to play the sleazebag's cousin, a magician who sweeps the young woman off her feet and is her best chance to escape the nightmarish life she has fallen into. This will be Gray's fourth film with Phoenix, who previously starred in The Yards, We Own The Night and most recently Two Lovers.

Shooting is to begin next year. All of the actors are busy. Cotillard is starring in The Dark Knight Rises, Renner will star in the Tony Gilroy-directed The Bourne Legacy, and Phoenix has returned to work starring in Paul Thomas Anderson's untitled drama.

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2011, 06:08:27 PM »
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Brad Pitt To Become ‘The Gray Man’ In POV Assassin Thriller Directed By James Gray
via The Playlist

You might remember that Brad Pitt and James Gray were set to team up for “The Lost City Of Z,” an adventure tale excitingly billed as a “Lawrence Of Arabia”-style epic, and naturally attracted buyers and massive interest around the world. But Paramount pulled the plug late last year with rumors that the studio and Gray couldn’t come to an agreement on pay. Pitt moved on to “Cogan’s Trade” and it seemed that was it. But it looks like the pair have found something else to team up on.

Earlier this year, Gray signed on direct the assassin thriller “The Gray Man,” and he had a very unique approach to what seems on the surface to be a very ordinary run through genre material. Based on the book by Mark Greaney and penned by Adam Cozad (who also wrote the upcoming Jack Ryan reboot for Paramount), the film follows a former CIA operative-turned ultimate assassin—the part Pitt is now lining up to play—who must fight his way across Europe, and past special forces teams from around the world in order to save the life of his handler and the handler’s family after he is targeted by a powerful multinational corporation. You’ve seen that movie before right? Well, not like this. Gray plans to shoot the film from the perspective of the assassin, citing the excellent car chase sequence from “We Own The Night” as an example of what audiences can expect from the film. “Almost every shot was from Joaquin’s point of view, inside that car, and I want to make a whole movie with that POV,” Gray said in January. So yeah, that’s awesome. Gray also stressed his film would be a far cry from the run-and-gun documentary vibe of Paul Greengrass’ Bourne films.

The project is set up over at 20th Century Fox with New Regency also on board, though there’s no word yet on when this will roll. However, we guess this means the period drama “Low Life,” announced in May with Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner set to star, is on hold for now (and considering all those stars are busy with other projects, it didn’t seem like it was close to shooting anyway). As for Pitt, he’s currently shooting “World War Z” but has an open calendar after that so we could see this rolling at the end of 2011 or early next year.

Pubrick

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2011, 06:35:37 PM »
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starring Brad Pitt's hands?
under the paving stones.

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2011, 05:26:29 PM »
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New book “Conversations avec James Gray” to be published in France...



From Gray to Z
by Richard Brody
via The New Yorker

Jordan Mintzer, international man of mystery, wears many hats: he’s a tax consultant, he’s the Paris correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter, he’s one of the producers of Matt Porterfield’s remarkable first two films, “Hamilton” and “Putty Hill” (for the latter, he also co-wrote the story), and tomorrow his book “Conversations avec James Gray” will be issued by the French publisher Editions Synecdoche. Gray, of course, is the director who, in a mere quartet of films, from “Little Odessa,” in 1995, to “Two Lovers,” from 2009, has made a cinematic universe of his own, the working-class Jewish families of Brooklyn and Queens (“Two Lovers,” in particular, is one of the meteoric movies of recent years, a romantic melodrama with a surface of dreams and limits and a substratum of colossal wars of the soul). And he was scheduled to make a film based on the book “The Lost City of Z,” by David Grann, of this magazine; Brad Pitt was slated to star; and then it all fell apart.

In Libération today, there’s an excerpt from the book (presented by the critic and editor Didier Péron) in which Gray discusses this project, explaining that Pitt’s associates sent the book to him, and that it appealed to him immediately, for its conflict between “Victorian England” and the Amazonian lands:

   I also liked the idea of making a film in which civilization would be just an ersatz, a veneer of civility beneath which one would find real human nature, which is—to paraphrase Hobbes—nasty, brutish, and short.

He added that he wanted it to be “a kind of ‘Indiana Jones’ but with a hero who thinks about what’s happening to him.” But Pitt, he suggests, is no longer interested: “Producers are willing to make the film, but I can’t find an appropriate actor who’s willing to act in it.” Gray explains that the budget would be between eighty and a hundred million dollars, and he blames the studios for their unwillingness to take a chance on such a film; he’s unwilling, he says, to make a very low-budget or self-financed film, because:

   the pleasure I have in making films is connected to a certain degree of know-how. I have no desire to shoot a film with my cell phone, I think it’s a cliché. Art is, to a great extent, craft. I like a certain kind of film and a certain level of know-how.

And he explains:

   The encounter of technical and narrative know-how can be very beautiful—that’s Hitchcock, with “Notorious.” There’s no courage to making a film for two cents that no one gives a shit about. There’s no know-how in it, and it’s not really subversive. What’s really subversive is to try to change the system from within.

Gray’s films are about solitude in a group, impossible dreams of escape and the wounds that result. He thrives on the sense of opposition. The paradox is that his films, his sense of opposition, depend on insidership; and if there’s a pathos to contemporary Hollywood, it’s the absence of a “there,” the lack of an ongoing set of studio relationships; each production is ad hoc, and so the sense of family, of a circle of regular collaborators and of the complex emotional bonds it generates, has to be, for a director, more or less self-created—which means that the perpetual son has to become something of a father. And for the eternal rebel, that’s a tough thing to do.

In any case, I’m impatient to read the whole book—and I’m impatient to see Gray’s next film, whatever it may be; at Deadline.com, Mike Fleming reported a few months ago that he’d be making a movie called “Low Life” next year with Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix—a New York story. I’d guess that, if the movie turns out to be a big success (as “Two Lovers” deserved to be), Gray might find it easier to make his grand-scale Amazonian project. Note that Darren Aronofsky, after the low-budget “Black Swan” turned out to be a hit, is now able to make his version of “Noah” at an announced budget of $150 million. I guess someone liked the story ark.

Source

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2011, 03:31:15 PM »
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Mark Wahlberg, Marion Cotillard & Zoe Saldana Eye Guillaume Canet/James Gray Project ‘Blood Ties’
James Gray’s ‘Low Life’ With Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner & Marion Cotillard Aims To Start Shooting In January 2012

via The Playlist

Given the Hollywood-friendly slickness of his directorial efforts to date, it was only a matter of time before French actor Guillaume Canet made a film in the U.S. The star of “The Beach” and “Love Me If You Dare,” among many others, stepped behind the camera to much acclaim with 2002’s Cesar-nominated “Mon Idole,” the 2007 thriller “Tell No One” (which Ben Affleck is planning to remake), and followed it up with 2010’s “Little White Lies,” all of which showed an international sensibility.

As revealed a while back, Canet’s been working on his English-language directorial debut, a remake a of the 2008 thriller “Les Liens Du Sang,” in which he starred, a 70s-set drama about two brothers, one a cop, the other a criminal fresh out of the joint. Canet’s been working on the script with “The Yards” and “We Own The Night” helmer James Gray, and according to Screen Daily, it seems that a cast is starting to come together.

Sales company Wild Bunch are close to coming on to rep Canet’s project, and it’s said that Mark Wahlberg (who worked with Gray on both “The Yards” and “We Own The Night”) is circling the role of one of the brothers, with Cotillard and “Avatar” lead Zoe Saldana also linked to the film—Cotillard, of course, being Canet’s partner, and therefore something of a no-brainer. Screen Daily say that it’s unclear if Canet will again star in the film, but we imagine that, if Wahlberg’s playing one brother, it’s unlikely, unless the director’s got a doozy of an American accent up his sleeve, although it’s possible he might take a smaller role, as originally hinted. Which means that, assuming all the linked cast members sign on, there’s still one big part to cast, and we imagine the talent will be lining up, considering the caliber of names already involved.

Wild Bunch are also backing Gray’s next picture “Low Life” (although Screen Daily say that it’s now untitled), a grim period drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, Gray’s film is gearing up to shoot in January (with “Se7en” and “Midnight in Paris” lenser Darius Khondji as DoP, excitingly), so if Cotillard remains involved with both, it’ll presumably be some time afterward that Canet gets rolling on “Blood Ties” (it’s worth noting that Saldana is committed to a “Star Trek” sequel next year, so scheduling may prove to be a problem there).

Source

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2011, 09:13:44 AM »
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Conversations with James Gray is available in a bilingual English-French edition, limited to 1,000 copies -- available to order through Synecdoche Books. Total cost is about $80 w/shipping to the USA.

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2012, 03:21:08 AM »
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Btw the US Blu-ray release of The Yards from Echo Bridge/Miramax is pretty badly butchered, but the French Blu-ray transfer is framed properly.

The Yards - Amazon France
French Blu-ray review

French Blu-ray:



US Blu-ray:


« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 04:53:25 PM by wilderesque »

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2012, 09:12:32 AM »
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James Gray Says 'Low Life' Is "The Best Thing I've Done"; Could Possibly Be Ready For TIFF
via The Playlist



Over the course of four films, director James Gray has crafted four distinct New York City stories. They are films that often find very masculine yet vulnerable protagonists struggling with difficult emotional and moral terrain, in tales that enrich and transcend the genres parameter they are seemingly structured within. And Gray's next film, the recently wrapped "Low Life," promises to find the writer/director exploring some new ground. His first period movie, the picture stars regular collaborator Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, in the story of a woman immigrating from Poland whose sister gets caught in the confines of Ellis Island. She is then forced to dabble in burlesque and vaudeville for money once she lands, but a magician comes along who hopes to save her and reunite her with her sister.

We chatted last week with James Gray as "We Own The Night" prepares to screen at BAMcinematek later today (followed by a Q&A with the director), and asked him about his next effort, and not only is he feeling very confident about the project, we may see it much, much sooner than we had anticipated.

To one degree or another, Gray's films have always touched upon the immigrant experience, particularly as it pertains to his own Russian Jewish heritage. And as he told us, this new film puts those themes he's circled around under the microscope, also allowing him to confront his own family history at the same time. "One of the central struggles that people have -- really throughout history -- is the struggle to try and fit into a larger system. Even if it's an inner city youth somewhere that joins a gang, or some middle aged wealthy white executive working somewhere in the south that needs to fit into his country club, everyone is always joining something to try and fit in. And in drama you're looking always for almost an extreme version [of that theme]," he explained. "And I remember very well, my grandparents who spoke almost no English, who spent a lot of their time really wishing they were back in Russia, which I never understood. But they clearly had trouble fitting in, and I found that very powerful and very sad and it's a very emotional idea to me, and I know how lonely they were in many respects. And I suppose I'm trying to come to grips with that."

But perhaps most excitingly, especially for Gray himself, is that this time around he has made a point to try and avoid using other films as an emotional or aesthetic inspiration -- he's essentially heading into the editing process (which begins this week) cold. "I tried on this movie in particular, to be as uninspired by movies as possible. I want it to be it's own thing. So I don't know what the inspiration is…I tried very hard to not to steal from anything --- I'm sure I did, by the way, I'm not saying I made anything brand new -- not consciously, is what I mean."

However, even as he begins to shape the film, Gray is feeling very confident about what he has to work with. And moreover, we might be seeing the results as early as this fall. "It will be done in 15 weeks from now. So I think the goal -- to the degree that I have goals like this, because I don't make goals for film festivals -- I think that the goal would probably be to try to make Venice and Toronto. Maybe not Venice because that's really quick...but I think the goal would probably be to make Toronto," he said, adding: "I think it's going to be my best work. What I shot was not just my best work, but the actors doing their best and I'm very excited about it for that reason. I'm extremely excited, like I said it's the best thing I've done."

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2012, 08:25:22 PM »
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James Gray Teases Thriller 'The Gray Man' With Brad Pitt Might Be Next
via The Playlist



While James Gray has become known for this thoughtful, gripping independent dramas, it was just a couple of years ago that he nearly made a splash with a big studio picture, "The Lost City Of Z" with Brad Pitt set to star. Near the end of 2010, Paramount yanked the cord on the project, and Gray left the movie and Pitt went on to work with Andrew Dominik on "Cogan's Trade." But it seems both Pitt and Gray stayed in touch. Just a couple of months later in early 2011, Gray signed to direct an adaptation of Mark Greaney's thriller "The Gray Man" and by late summer, Pitt had signed on to star. Not much has been heard since, but as Gray tells us, the project is still percolating and may be coming soon.

"That absolutely may happen in a matter of months. It really depends on Brad Pitt's schedule and it depends on my schedule and how quickly I finish up this current movie and budget and all of those kind of boring factors. But it definitely may happen, and in fact it is more likely than not to happen," he said. Penned by Adam Cozad (one of the writers on the still developing Jack Ryan reboot for Paramount) the film follows a former CIA operative-turned ultimate assassin, targeted by a powerful multinational corporation, who must fight his way across Europe and past special forces teams from around the world in order to save the life of his handler and the handler's family. But if this sounds familiar, Gray is aiming to take a fresh approach to the action.

One of the centerpiece sequences in "We Own The Night," is a rain soaked car chase of sorts, that we see unfold mostly from the perspective of Joaquin Phoenix's character as he watches what transpires around him (see the scene below). And that's something Gray would like to do on this movie, albeit with much more money and tools at his disposal. "I've never done that kind of movie before and it certainly is a very enticing thing because what you do is you get to explore a kind of existential action on a scale that you really haven't been able to pursue before. I mean I started to experiment a little bit with what it is I'd like to do with an action movie [in] 'We Own the Night,' particularly with the car chase. I didn't have a huge amount of resources on 'We Own the Night.' I mean that picture was made for $19 million dollars, and I had very little time or money to do the car chase the way I wanted it, in fact I had to truncate quite a bit of it, but I felt that it would survive intact because of the central idea of it which is that you stay inside the car, it's during a rain storm, etc. So the whole idea was to make it in that style and then hopefully that the budget, the loose threads of the budget wouldn't show," Gray explained. "But on a movie like this, you don’t have that issue. You can really expose all of the aspects of an action movie that you want. Who knows? Maybe it won't be as effective. To have all of the toys at your disposal you use them and it's not always the right thing. Sometimes to make it work means to choose not to do something. So there is that challenge, but I'd like to have that challenge, it's a different field to play on."

Pubrick

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2012, 08:30:12 PM »
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It's interesting because his name is gray, but his hair is red.
under the paving stones.

Cloudy

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 12:08:54 AM »
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^That is definitely very interesting.

But what is also interesting is that maybe Phoenix's work with PTA has elevated his game for Gray's Low Life. hmmmmmm :ponder:

Any vague, ambiguous connections to the Master will help me survive the next 6 months.

wiped_out

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 04:19:51 PM »
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J.P has a movie with James Gray and Paul Thomas Anderson comming out! What a badass!


I really want to see him do the Percy Fawcett movie with Brad Pitt! The studio turned them down due to budget issues.Hopefully after Low Life he can secure the financing he needs.

wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2012, 05:09:41 PM »
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Low Life set report from French publication Libéracion, loosely translated below:

Gray Anatomy
April 24, 2012
By Jordan Mintzer

Exclusive report on the shooting of new film by James Gray, with Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard. Odyssey in the New York of 20 years.

In this vibrant borough of Queens, just a few subway stops from downtown Manhattan, which was once a bastion of Greek immigration has changed dramatically in recent years. The souvlaki stalls and other Orthodox churches have gradually given way to taco shops, boutiques converted into mosques or restaurants at night, such that Sarajevo Fast Food Corporation. And while the local population was traditionally divided for decades between the working classes of Greek, Irish and Italian, she has recently diversified dramatically, now accounting for Mexicans, Bulgarians, Syrians, Albanians and Brazilians - not to mention a few hipsters in Brooklyn who rents have become unaffordable.

But on this balmy evening in March, that's a different kind of immigrant that one crosses the streets of the neighborhood, those one has not seen for nearly a century. Dressed in three piece suits in tatters, wearing fedoras, pocket watches and hairstyles gominées: it's a small army of extras that goes to the set H of Kaufman Astoria Studios illustrious, where another army - made it to assistants production, props and makeup artists - awaits them on the set of which for now is simply named James Gray The Untitled Project. While these extras are beginning to integrate the decor - the reconstruction of a cabaret-brothel-gambling scale called Bandit's Roost Theater -, they are served in mugs vintage of the (false) beer and are distributed around large tables soiled of peanut shells and ashtrays filled to the brim, while awaiting further instructions.

A team of production assistants listen carefully to the warnings of the first assistant director, Doug Torres: "I warn you. This scene, we'll turn it from every angle. "And for good reason: it is a real pivotal scene of the film, involving the three main actors (Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner), a good fifty extras and its share of stunts and breaks. At the other end of the plateau, James Gray, he is calmly sitting in his chair director, surrounded by some of his producers and his team - most of them nervously fingering their Blackberry, anxious that it starts. A few more adjustments in the decor, a little more peanuts scattered hither and yon, and Doug Torres starts: "It is good for us." The hubbub and the animation of a sudden fall. James Gray puts his helmet and sets intensely monitors connected to two huge cameras Arriflex 35 mm installed at two opposite corners of the tray. "Quiet please!" Proclaims Doug Torres. That's when James Gray turns around and smiles, as anxious exalts: "It's always the worst time. I feel like a boxer who steps into the ring. "

This is already the fifth week of the shooting of which - in purely American - is considered an "indie", while for the rest of the world in this ambitious project to dress more like a Hollywood blockbuster. After four weeks of back and forth across New York to shoot the exterior including a day at Ellis Island, which, as an input main immigrants, is a capital place for this drama whose action takes place in 1921 The team has finally asked the studio to put in a box some of the major scenes of what will be the first period film by James Gray. The sets are divided into two pans: one side, the cabaret-brothel-gambling den, and the other, the reconstruction of a dilapidated apartment on the outskirts of the Lower East Side, which will serve the following week.

The story follows the journey of Ewa (Marion Cotillard), a young Polish immigrant fresh. Just arrived in New York (with his sister, but it is immediately sent into quarantine because of tuberculosis), she finds herself plunged into the depths of Manhattan where she meets Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), a devious tenant who leads her into prostitution, and his cousin Orlando (Jeremy Renner), a flamboyant magician who could get him out.
"Where was he went for so much poetry?"

As with all scenarios, James Gray was inspired by some of the details related to the history of his own family, in this case a rear-grandfather who ran a saloon at the time. "It was called Chez Hurwitz. B ut where was he went for so much poetry? jokes the filmmaker. The bar was apparently frequented by a crowd of gangsters, bohemians and eccentric, and my great aunt has often told me of a certain Max was the mac Höchsten the corner. It was he who brought the girls out there. "But unlike his other films, which generally revolve around relationships - often violent - between men (fathers, brothers or son), the story is told here of a strictly feminine point of view: "I wanted to place the woman at the center, to get away from any prospect macho. This is, of course, again a tentative analysis of patriarchy, but this time in a very frontal, whereas usually the wives of my scenarios quickly become the objects of men - although they are never objects films. "

In this respect, the story of James Gray Untitled Project inevitably evokes the theme of Two Lovers (a man caught between two women), but this time it mirrored (a woman caught between two men), in a sort of dilemma Shakespearean like We Own the Night. In the evocation of these comparisons, James Gray laughs while sighing: "To be honest, I do not really realize was ... To say that one is always the same movie, this is obviously never the same story that reproduced, but rather we try again and again to talk about what really matters for himself, trying to refine a little more about each time. "

While the actors and technicians are busy in the studio air conditioning H, producer Anthony Katagas (who worked with James Gray on We Own the Night and Two Lovers) flips on the floor of monographs photographers Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, and painters Everett Shinn and George Bellows. The latter, both representatives of the Ashcan School - literally "School of the trash," American realist painting style of the early twentieth century, best known for his depictions of flood scenes of daily life of urban working classes - have been a major source for the iconography of the film. Whether through the costumes, sets, or even how to light scenes, all these references are found in one way or another to the image. And only through this type of preliminary work by a rare precision that it is possible for James Gray to turn this period piece (partly funded by the French distributor-seller Wild Bunch) for the price of a big production indie, and only thirty-five days - leaving little room for improvisation.
"I became totally obsessed with the 20s"

"That's the key, says Anthony Katagas. Generally, producers are preparing a movie thinking "in case". They wonder: "Oh my god! What would happen if the director finally decided to shoot in broad terms rather than close-up? Are we ready for this?" We, we do not have the means to ask such questions. "In more succinct, fairly typical of his childhood in Queens, James Gray for his part described the folly of this process by the popular phrase Trying to shove 10 pounds of shit Into a 5-pound bag, literally "try to get 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag." And it works: when it came to a crucial stage and pass the streets of the Bronx today in Lower Manhattan to those of a hundred years ago, the team carefully studied the photographs and paintings reference and has succeeded in effecting the transformation of an entire city block in just a few days - where normally there would need several weeks.

This is the kind of challenges facing the daily production which, despite the presence in the credits of a winner and two Oscar nominations, has not a dollar to spare. "It was nice running 24 frames per second, notes Anthony Katagas, such films are really working frame by frame."

After finishing the script, James Gray has spent several months in multiply round trips between his home in Los Angeles, and New York, looking for potential film locations. He also visited dozens of times in the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street (Lower East Side, Manhattan) and Ellis Island to document the best of the time. "During the preparation of the film, I became totally obsessed with everything about this period, he says while the team prepares for a new decision. Especially details such as the permanent consumption of cigars, pipes and cigarettes, the absolute lack of hygiene, the fact that people had very bad teeth ... I remembered everything, but just to be able to forget everything when shooting. "As production had not the means to turn everything on location (and anyway, the Lower East Side today, totally gentrified, nothing like that of the time), James Gray has appealed to Happy Massee (already designer of Two Lovers) to create the impressive studio reconstructions that provide the framework for much of the film. His team had very little time to build upstream, but this constraint sets finally allowed themselves to keep pace with the shooting, in symbiosis with the film's characters - gradually, they have also become, according Massee, "more sophisticated, burlesque and colorful."
"I thought of Bresson"

Color, precisely, was a key element to represent the time that - because of the photos that remain to us - is generally thought in black and white. This is perhaps the biggest challenge that faced the legendary French-Iranian cinematographer Darius Khondji (Seven, Funny Games, Midnight in Paris ...): transform this world into a monochromatic palette vibrant, colorful and richly colored. While he was filming last fall in the next Woody Allen film in Italy (To Rome with Love), Darius Khondji began receiving hundreds of mail iconographic references sent by James Gray, explaining his vision of the film , the image type to which he wanted to go. One of the major inspirations was, unexpectedly, a series of erotic Polaroid taken in the 60 and 70 by the Italian architect Carlo Mollino. "This is one of the first things he sent me, remembers Dairus Khondji from a loft in lower Manhattan, during a weekend of well deserved rest. We studied all the pictures closely. We wanted to find the perfect texture to film the skin texture, and type of lighting that would give an almost religious at all. "If religion has always been part of the world of filmmaker (Russian Orthodox chants float on the first scene of Little Odessa to the bar mitzvah of Two Lovers, through the Catholic funeral of We Own the Night), she finds a special place in this new film that questions directly notions of faith and redemption . "At risk of sounding pretentious, says James Gray, Godfather II apart from which it has referred a lot - but for the scenery - I thought mainly to Bresson by preparing the film, including Diary of a priest campaign. I even looted an end to a scene in the confessional. "

According viewed the rushes in the apartment of Darius Khondji on a monitor set up specially by the laboratory, this film seems to be a real break - at least in terms of visual aesthetics - with all that the filmmaker was able to before. This impression is partly due to the sumptuous costumes created by the octogenarian Patricia Norris (who often worked with David Lynch, including Elephant Man and Lost Highway), but also something more troubling: a radiant appearance and in the air how actors on the screen, perhaps reflecting the desire of the director to move away from formal realism here who signed his previous films, to go further sought in the myth.

Back on the set H. The team is preparing for yet another take of a scene that, for two long days, will be shot at least twenty-five different angles. While Darius Khondji and lighting (the esteemed John DeBlau, who has worked on over sixty films since Sophie's Choice, by Alan J. Pakula, the early 80s) carefully regulate their light, liners replace the three stars that spin behind the scenes. Phoenix remains seated in its character, pacing in the dark; Renner leads to a magic trick that will perform on stage, while joking with the team; Cotillard joins his son, Marcel. The image of the actress cradling her baby as she is - for the purposes of the stage next - dressed as the Statue of Liberty as "vaudeville" offers a rather surreal moment of intimacy.
"That one, for sure, we keep"

Meanwhile, the extras are redirected to their site by the second assistant. Those who have nothing to do form naturally in small groups to watch YouTube videos on an iPad lying around. For anyone who has ever attended a film of this magnitude, we know how the organization's work is generally a precision and extreme rigor. The "magic" is most often absent and, in a meticulous sometimes bordering on the absurd, it often seems to have been replaced by a quasi Taylorist division of labor. It is also the case here. It was assigned a task as accurately as specific to each team member, more than 120 people, excluding post: repair bulbs stroke, operate the smoke machine to clean the broken glass As the catch or still run the return playback. This monotony broken by sudden and intense acceleration, and the extraordinary pace of shooting (with days that sometimes go 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 am), make it extremely difficult to identify in the film advance . Except for James Gray, with his usual lucidity, comments on his approach: "Everyone on board has a specific task, except the director. The film could almost do without him - we also wonders if this is not what happens on some projects. In fact, his only real job is to maintain a certain emotional temperature throughout the shoot. "

But this mission is all the more difficult it's always something new on the set - as at the moment this group of chorus girls dressed in mini dresses fringed Charleston who arrive, greeted by a swarm of makeup artists who poudrent on many exposed parts of their bodies. Yet James Gray seems to totally ignore this whirlwind of activity: "If you get involved too, and throughout, we can no longer focus when the camera rolls for good. When the first assistant said "Action!" I put my helmet and I look at the monitor. This is the only time that matters because in the end it's the only thing that will be in the film. Everything else is just noise, and you must pass to extract. "

Half an hour later, Doug Torres announced that the team is ready for shooting after the scene, who will this time include some stunts involving Renner and Phoenix. The first dose is missed quite across, and the extras are particularly out of sync with the rest of the action. "It has not yet found the right pace," says Gray, before going to talk Renner, suggesting a new way of approaching waterfalls. Gray approve, review all ran from the scene with all the players, then gives the final entries to the cameraman. Everyone falls into place for a second take. This time, the actors will go to the bottom, Renner skillfully dodging the blows of angry Phoenix, giving himself entirely to his role, demonstrated the passion that marked his faithful collaboration with Gray from The Yards. Even before Torres could say "Cut!", A huge laugh out from behind the monitor. Gray is folded in half, as if watching the Marx Brothers (whose films Coconut Explorer and Madness have also been shot in this same studio Kaufman Astoria in the late 20) . The team hurries to join him around the monitor to the board decision and whenever, Gray bursts into laughter, enjoying the vision of a scene played excellently. "That one, for sure, we keep it."

It's time for "lunch break", although it is actually 20 hours. The extras take the air out in the streets adjoining the studio. As they integrate with the local population, one can not help but see new form of the strange array of immigrants between 1921 and 2012 they met in the same suburbs. Taking advantage of this hour to get a phone call to his wife and children, Gray hurries to his desk, looking rather calm. So I ask him how he managed to remain stoic in the midst of this chaos, he stopped, thought a moment and replied: "It's funny because I was talking with Doug [Torres] this morning, and I told her that, for me, all that matters is trying to win the battle daily. This is not for the preparation - which has other issues - but rather for the filming that we must look at every morning in the face and say: "Today I must get good catches . I need a good game from the players, to reveal a truth. " It is useless to think of yesterday, whose catches are already in boxes, or tomorrow. It's day to day to think. And if we manage to compartmentalize everything well and truly forget yesterday and tomorrow, to focus only on what you have to do today, so I think the battle is already half won. "

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wilder

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Re: James Gray
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2012, 01:02:01 PM »
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