A burning hot flame potentially turns into bitter cold ice
Pork Chop | Lisbon, Portugal | 05/27/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE YARDS (2000) will interest fans of Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize
Theron's physical charisma, as to James Caan's world class acting and
credibility in bringing to life a theme that is rarely touched upon
in the theaters. On the other hand, for some, Walhberg's acting is
perhaps an acquired taste, much like watching paint dry.
One strength is the lesson it tells, of the consequences of one's
actions, or that of a small group of people holding key positions, on
everyone in society, their family, friends close and distant, when
there is misbehavior.
According to this movie, there are cases when big-ticket sales
players (not just small time salesmen) get an edge, through unethical
means, through payoffs, not so legal actions, and human coercion
against competitors in bidding for contracts in the tens of USD
It realistically tells of methods that are perfectly legitimate in
gaining the favor, influence and friendship of people by knowing what
their soft spots are, and indulging those through gifts. The trick,
of course, is to know when a gift stops being one, and turns into a
This DVD will also appeal to those enjoying a wide-screen release,
with a very high quality cinematography, sharp images, and
irreproachable technique. The soundtrack is made up of tastefully
selected numbers, that don't distract from the story.
What will stick with the public, are the highs and lows, that the
protagonists in this picture go through.
The less credible part, is the suggestion that the character played
by Walhberg, presented as somewhat of a broken down engine of sorts
in society, becomes holier than the Pope after 90 mins, turning
against everyone whom he knew and trusted, merely from the latter's
decision to cut their losses from the repeated, ever more serious
comedy of errors made by Walhberg's character.
The strong point of this movie, is its tragic aspects, and by not
having a predictable ending, incorporating many realistic elements,
such as sickness, health, death, fear, greed, broken relationships,
loathing, solidarity, coercion, hate, love, confusion, joy. Most will
identify how some people are able to control their destinies to a
lesser or stronger degree, depending on their skill and experience,
A lasting demonstration, is how quickly a burning hot flame,
potentially turns into bitter cold ice, in terms of one's humanity,
personal relationships, one's professional outlook, and how everyone
in society is dependent and influenced by other people comprising it.
THE YARDS also underlines how one tragedy is always accompanied by
Some viewers may have preferred a less abrupt ending, which almost is
presented as an afterthought, after the story had built to a climax."
C. A. Luster | Burke, VA USA | 10/06/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A couple of good performances and some mediocre ones. That is why this is not a stand out movie. It is certainly worth seeing this movie about the train yards of New York, but it doesn't quite reach that point of excelling. The story is not fast paced and you must be patient with the movie along the way. In the end though I think you will say not bad, just not great. Wahlberg turns in a decent performance as does Phoenix, Theron, and Caan, but none of them made me feel I cared what happened to them. This shows the underbelly of the corruption in some companies trying to win contracts and political influence as well. A good drama when you don't mind a slower pace. Good quality DVD with some replayability. If you enjoyed this catch "The Departed" and "Brooklyn Rules".
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 12/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director James Gray paired Joaquin Phoenix with Mark Wahlberg in We Own the Night. He also has worked with Phoenix in "Two Lovers." "The Yards" was nominated for the Golden Palm Award @ the Cannes Film Festival. Gray does a good job of keeping the action moving, but my attraction to the film was that it was an excellent character-based drama with performances that made me care about the characters.
Mark Wahlberg was nominated for an Oscar for The Departed (Widescreen Edition) in 2006. As Leo Handler in this film, his performance is tightly controlled. He seems to be the moral centerpiece of the film, going to jail without ratting out his friends & then stepping up to help weed out corruption. Whether this leap is entirely believable is debatable. Wahlberg is put through the plot's big squeeze, but we don't entirely see this coming. Perhaps Gray intended the reversal in the courtroom as a surprise.
Joaquin Phoenix has two Oscar nominations for "Gladiator" in 2000 & "Walk the Line" in 2005. He won a Best Supporting Actor award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association & the National Board of Review for "The Yards." As Willie Guiterrez, he's got a short fuse, thinks he can bully romance & yet we somehow still like him for the goodness that seeps through his sleazy side.
Charlize Theron who won her Oscar for "Monster" in 2003 & was nominated in 2005 for "North Country" does an excellent job as Erica Stoltz, the girl who has a past with Leo, a present with Willie & issues with her step-father Frank. It's a riveting tightrope she walks.
Frank Olchin, Eric's step-father, is played by James Caan, who was Oscar-nominated for "The Godfather" in 1972. Caan plays his usual likeable bad guy as he interfaces with Willie & plays Leo as a chump.
Leo's mother, Val Handler, is played by Ellen Burstyn who has five Oscar nominations in addition to her win for "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" in 1973. DVD extras reveal that she was Gray's first choice for the role. She plays the ailing mother well, balancing maternal affection with a realistic view of the world.
Faye Dunaway plays Frank's wife & Val's sister Kitty Olchin. Dunaway who was Oscar-nominated for the two classic films "Bonnie & Clyde" & "Chinatown," won her award for "Network" in 1976. She credits Gray with sizing her minimal performance, which speaks to his style & makes her courtroom collapse all the more dramatic.
While "The Yards" may be a bit uneven, I found it gripping. It spoke to an moral center that exists even in flawed men & women. How each character adapts to the challenges of family loyalty, business pressures & their ethical center makes the film meaty, worthy of seeing again from time to time. Enjoy!"