What, no thread on James Gray's latest? After seven years, Gray has finally returned to filmmaking and his old themes we could already witness in his fine first two efforts from 1994 and 2000. I believe enough of us have seen this new film to warrant a new thread and discussion at this point, and some of us (I'm particularly thinking about arsaib) are familiar with all of his three feature films.
We Own the Night has reminded me that I should rewatch Gray's other two films, as it is already a contender for my Best of 2008 lists next year. I saw it in a Slovenian theater where an incompetent projectionist wasn't able to show the film in it's proper aspect ratio (i assumed 1.66 wasn't it), and what's worse, the frame kept shaking throughout the excellent two hours. That probably means I should revisit it without the heads cut off. Distribution in Germany starts in February, though I doubt they will release any subtitled copies.
When I witnessed the central car chase in the film, probably one of the most shocking and gripping moments I saw in theaters in 2007 (if it hadn't already been January 2008 ) , I had to realize the film has moments of greatness that only few films accomplish. Nevertheless it still does feel a bit short and rushed at other times, and Gray isn't completely able to shake of some psychological trappings and narrative conventions. Still, this is what I would call extremely inspired craftmanship. The film seems to wallow in the doom that is on display every moment since the initial conversation at the beginning in the church. Somewhat of an Anti-Woo Heroic Bloodshed director, Gray seems constantly to suggest that it is the own family which ultimately brings you down. The stomach turning ending which hides its cynical worldview under a calm surface is the final punch in the face that makes you realize what you have been watching all of the time: a Horror film.
I'm almost tempted to say Gray borrowed the weak parts of his film from Ridley Scott (along with the annoying musical pieces, though they sometimes work in a different way in both films). And both do share a huge tendency for plot-holes... Nevertheless, Gray's film worked like a huge cleansing at the end, while you knew that you had seen an entertaining piece of popular culture at the self-congratulatory final of American Gangster.