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The Yards (2000)
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Review Date: September 05, 2000
Director: James Gray
Writer: James Gray, Matt Reeves
Producers: Kerry Orent, Paul Webster, N. Wechsler
Actors:
Mark Wahlberg
Joaquin Phoenix
Charlize Theron
James Caan
Plot:
Having taken one for the team, Leo returns home after spending some time in the pen, hopeful to return to the straight and narrow. Working for his uncle, Leo gets trained by his buddy Willie, an expert in the dirty political games prevalent in their industry. But it isn't long before one such shady incident goes terribly awry and it's every man for himself. Of course, Leo is once again left flailing in the wind of suspicion.
Critique:
This is a decent morality tale strapped to a very dark and depressing setting, ultimately salvaged by many top-notch performances. A "gritty urban drama" is probably the best way to describe this damp flick, a film that certainly does present an interesting story, but does so in a manner that just didn't grab me as much as I thought it would. There is very little enthusiasm in this film, it's slow-paced, dreary and pretty gloomy for the most part. In fact, the lead character played adequately by Mark Wahlberg looks like he's going to kill himself in almost every other scene. He's down and out. The film reminded me a lot of Scorsese's breakout 1973 picture MEAN STREETS in many ways. Both pictures take place in the "mean streets" of New York City. Both flicks seem to have an aversion to bright shots. And just as in Scorsese's film, the so-called "dire" circumstances in this story underwhelmed me for the most part. I mean, it just seemed like people were making too much of things that didn't seem to necessitate all that hoopla. Now don't get me wrong, the film does contain real moments of suspense, characters caught in situations in which they have little way out.

But on the whole, I never really felt very close to any of the characters, and telegraphed much of the film's grinding progression. But despite all that, the performances were strong across the board, with Caan and Phoenix grabbing most of the gusto. Burstyn and Dunaway were decent, but had very little to do, while Theron took on yet another look and still managed to punch in a solid performance. But it is Joaquin Phoenix who will likely be the one most remembered for this film. Alternating between the many different facets of his character, Joaquin danced the perfect line and will hopefully be tagged with a nomination of some sort at the end of the year. And despite the many similarities between this film and his directorial debut, James Gray did manage to put an authentic representation of the times on the screen, but not without overstylizing some of the film's more poignant moments (appreciated by others, I found some of his tactics to be distracting). So don't expect any major originality points with this film but do expect to see some great actors doing their thing. And if you enjoy dramas which focus on family, loyalty, redemption and all that fun stuff, this film certainly packs much of that in its mix. Just don't expect to be smacked upside the head by it all. Maybe just a gentle tap...
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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3:31AM on 01/28/2011
WOW. nice baby :)) Charlize Theron is my like baby on TV
http://charlizetheron.vv.cc
WOW. nice baby :)) Charlize Theron is my like baby on TV
http://charlizetheron.vv.cc
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