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Follow Up on THE YARDS...

Like I thought yesterday, that piece came from someone that... well had a bone to pick with James Gray, and sure enough the truth came out today. Ya see folks, when you're dealing with film there are always a couple of sides to a story. I've heard that Robert Rodriguez screams on his film sets. I was there some 20+ days and always saw him directing and relaxing playing his guitar. A complete 180. But perhaps there was a single incident, or perhaps someone didn't get hired and carried that grudge, but the good that came from yesterday's report are these two reports which seems to indicate that there is something worthwhile in turning our attention towards THE YARDS.... So let's take a look....

You're exactly right about this 'netherworld' fella having a bone to pick against James Gray. He knows not of what he speaks. Perhaps he's unaware of a process known as EDITING. I've seen many different cuts of THE YARDS, and each one has been better than the last. It is on its way to becoming a masterpiece. James is a perfectionist. Heaven forbid that anyone should attempt to be a "serious filmmaker." Heaven forbid a director look up to The Godfather. Maybe everybody should try to make the Waterboy. (If netherworld knew anything about the Yards, he'd realize it bares very little narrative or even aesthetic similarity to the Godfather...except maybe its beautiful, moody lighting.) The movie is a serious work of art, attempting -- and achieving -- emotional levels rarely seem in films, especially American films. The acting will blow you away. (Charlize Theron, almost unrecognizable in black hair and heavy eyeliner, is the biggest revelation.) Caan, Dunaway, and Burstyn haven't been this strong since the 70's, and Wahlberg and Phoenix give by far their strongest performances. Maybe netherworld would rather see Dunaway doing a sequel to Dunsten Checks In. Thanks. EKG.

And this person, is someone that has worked on some Academy nominated films with some other genius-y directors... He does seem to have a problem determining who wrote what last time out though....

I am working with James Gray. He hasn't displayed any "tyrannical screaming", I think he probably does consider himself a "serious filmmaker" (whatever the hell that means ) - And this so called serious movie has some of the best filmmaking I've worked on in twenty years. And - as films go - who wouldn't want to make The Godfather? And no, I don't think James thinks he's making that movie. Of course, you might ask him him just exactly what his thoughts are - but then you seem to know that already. Furthermore, the man is 29 years old, this is his second film, he's a genius and I hate him for that - but he's nothing like you describe.

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 10, 1999, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Yard Beard

    by GroundZero

    I think James looks much better without the beard.

  • Feb. 10, 1999, 10:17 a.m. CST

    ape shit

    by L'Auteur

    I personally think that Dunston Checks In shouldve been made into a 5-part series (or at least a trilogy) exploring the deep-rooted impulses of the chimp's inner psyche and what would make hime throw cake with such fury.

  • Feb. 11, 1999, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Copland Redux?

    by 40Dog

    The whole yards imbroglio remains me of that other much touted Miramax film Copland. James Mangold was also a very serious filmmaker doing "serious" work, with the razzle dazzle cast(deNiro!Keitel!) and talk of an Oscar Nomination for Stallone! Then they rewrote and reshot the entire ending and the film in the end sucked anyway and nobody cared. Thing is James Gray's people responded to the first post and they sounded a mite too defensive of their buddy. The YArds is up soon for previews of the rough cut so we'll see if Gray is all that.

  • Feb. 22, 1999, 8:40 p.m. CST

    Copland/The Yards:Separated at Birth?

    by cfuller

    I worked on Copland, Rounders, and The Yards, so I've been around these Miramax-predicted "homeruns" before. Copland and The Yards are very similar: both second features; both directors from New York and roughly the same age; both film school/film geeks; both debuted critically acclaimed first pix; Copland and The Yards are both set in present-day NY, both involve city corruption, both boast all-star casts; both feature (SPOILER) someone's ear getting shot. Here's the difference: Mangold came off the no-budget Heavy (yawn) and right into a $10mil Copland - until Sly, DeNiro, et.al. signed on. Then the thing launched into the $30mil+ range, and it seemed to get away from its director (in terms of star/studio pressures and his relative inexperience). In addition, Miramax Scissorhands cut and re-cut and requested reshoots and mucked the thing up as much as Mangold did. Miramax tests (and usually reshoot) all their movies; it's part of their process now. And they sometimes try to get mediocre scores; not terrible ones, just bad enough where they can then request anything they want (a way to wrest power away from the director without literally doing it). "See, they didn't like it in Podunk, Mr. Gray, so now here's what we'd like to change and etc." So seeing the highs and lows of Copland and comparing it to The Yards, I see a difference. The Yards is superior thus far to Copland. The look of the movie is dynamite (Harris Savides - the DP - did The Game). There are greatish performances in there; I saw them. Many of the crew felt the movie was a throwback; (corny I know) the kind of movie they don't make anymore. And in that test screening in NJ Feb 15, Miramax Scissorhands was all ready for mediocre scores - but didn't get them. It did better than they thought - meaning that Mr.Gray still has control over the movie he wants to make in the way he wants to make it. I'm not campaigning to be Mr.Gray's assistant. But I always want the movies I work on to do well, to be seen - to even be great. Most of them (maybe even Dunston) start off that way then wilt. With that in mind, this one is far ahead of the Copland curve. So far, so good. And I hope it continues on its way.

  • May 4, 2001, 4:24 a.m. CST

    The Yards

    by ZooKeeper

    It's a little late in the day for these comments but I've just watched the film on DVD. Though not great, it was certainly better than anything else out there. I found some of James' comments on the commentary to be a little too defensive. Especially when explaining how certain scenes resembled GODFATHER II. So what? If you can pull it off you need not explain. About the 'yelling and screaming', let me say that James has a very strong idea of what he wants. His love of New York and deep appreciation of great films makes him one of the freshest directors out there. My only complaint is: where is the humor? C'mon life is not all that bleak. I remember one semester at USC James and I were editing different projects. A mutual friend (I forget who) introduced us and we hit off immediately. We spent hours and hours just talking about the great movies that influenced us and the kinds of films we would make if we "made it". I remember one night we -rewrote the whole plot of GODAFATHER III into the film it should've been. He had a terrific sense of humor and irony which I hope wil eventually find it's way into his films. We were from similar working-class backgrounds (James from Brooklyn; myself from Jersey)and we shared a sensibility that kept me sane among all those spoiled rich kids. James was not the typical ass kissing, sell-out that many of the students were. Hence I can see the resentment and bitterness many of his peers feel toward someone who has achieved what their dour dispositions have prevented them from. I have heard James was upset by the reacton to the film. All I can say is move on to the next film. And don't take 6 years!!! Like many of his own favorite films, The Yards is ahead of it's time. By the time the film is re-discovered, James will have gone on to other successes while the naysayers will remain like me---a ZooKeeper