James Gray brilliantly recreates New York in the 1920’s with this tale of a Polish immigrant arriving at Ellis Island with her sister only to get embroiled in prostitution as she tries to raise the money to release her sister who is being detained on the island due to illness.

Brought up in Queens, New York, Gray locates this film in his beloved city. He is clearly influenced by Francis Ford Coppola and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America as far as the film-making techniques go; a brown hue permeates the film that is reminiscent of The Godfather and American films of the seventies. This is made possible by the sepia tones of Darius Khondji’s delicious cinematography.

Marion Cotillard is Ewa, the immigrant of the title and she cements her status as one of the finest screen actors working today. The sign of a great actor is the capability to project emotions with a look and she does this wonderfully.

Gray is an arthouse director with European sensibilities. His films tend to be downbeat and deal with the darker aspects of life, the complicated relationships between characters; they are not to everyone’s taste but nevertheless have artistic merit.

Joaquin Phoenix is Bruno Weiss, Ewa’s twisted guardian angel, who cajoles her into the grim world of prostitution but strangely finds himself conflicted as he falls in love with her; another stellar performance from Phoenix in an already impressive canon. Jeremy Renner is on romantic duties as Bruno’s cousin who falls for Ewa. Excellent performances all round.

This is a world of struggle and challenges for all the characters and all the creatives commit fully to tell this bleak tale of survival and the incredible fortitude of the human spirit.






Blinded by the lights?

It seems everyone was.

What amounts to no more than an average film is being pushed into awards territory and it’s so political, it’s fracking see through.
It is not shit, by any means, just not that good. A bit boring, a bit who gives a …. a bit meh.

It is too easy to slag off a film without really asking the questions that matter. What works, what doesn’t, why so, why not.

Mr Bale has lacked a sense of humour/humanity in his previous films. The guy can clearly act but it is not enjoyable watching him. There is a lack of lightness with him and it doesn’t seem like he knows how or wants to access it, here he surprises with a performance of
He seems to have softened and I’m not talking character here, his struggle, his humanity is believable and rooted in a softer reality. It’s easy to buy into the intensity with him, he does it very well, but there is always something missing, something hidden, a dark secret perchance within the heart of the actor?

Je ne suis pas sur.

He was annoying before and wasn’t in this. He was very good. Upon hearing his casting in this my shoulders slumped, a sigh, phhhrewww.

More than pleasantly surprised with his work in this film.

Bradley Cooper, on the other hand…..
He was watchable in Silver Linings Playbook as much as he was bringing something slightly different to the table, the same in The Place Beyond The Pines, but let’s be honest, he’s a pretty boy who lacks the skill to really bring a depth of sentiment. If I watched SLP again I may be less accepting of his work.
One day, he may surprise us all, it happens, but until then, he’s just another actor who doesn’t inspire.

Amy Adams is good, she can clearly act but really, why did she have to wear ALL those middle slit boob dresses in every other scene. One scene, two at tops, it was just unnecessary.

Jeremy Renner, any good or a bit average? Jury’s out on that one.

Jennifer Lawrence is great, believable, alive and sparky.

The story was just not well told, it maybe massively unfair to talk about Boogie Nights but as far as the style goes (and by that I mean, the writing, the shots, the costumes, and the direction) A.H. is not a patch on it. David O Russell is a great director with an incredible C.V. but when it comes to this type of film he is not Paul Thomas Anderson.

Loads of people loved it and fair enough, my only question is this:

‘Did you love it because it was really good or were you caught up in the maelstrom of awards fever?’
Will you look back at it in 10 years and go, ‘Yes, that truly is an excellent film?’

How it could have been better?
The script could have been tighter, the story could have been tighter, some of the casting different etc etc.

If it was better structured then maybe it would be awards worthy, but as is, nah, not working.