Tuesday, January 6, 2015

BEST OF 2010-2014 #4 THE GREY

The Grey is tough-guy poetry, wearing its bruised, wounded heart on its heavy-flannel sleeve, a force of nature cinema experience that leaves me crushed every time I watch it. Quiet, oppressively cold, and deeply introspective, this is a brilliant, Jack London-esque tale of machismo in the face of all-but-certain-death. Had this movie been released at the end of 2011 the Oscar nominations would have bee...n different, as Liam Neeson’s towering performance would surely have been recognized with a nomination. Jumping into this project almost immediately after the death of his wife, he couldn’t have known how real life would have informed his aching, forceful work in The Grey. When the final 10 minutes of The Grey arrive, there’s a major twist, and it makes the entire film even that much more moving and powerful. I’m aware of the fact that many meat-head audience members were near riotous over the fact that The Grey wasn’t some sort of WWF-style smack-down between the guy from Taken and a pack of rabid wolves. With certain movies, the job of Hollywood marketing teams seems to be to hoodwink potential ticket buyers into thinking they’re seeing one thing, and this is what happened when people saw the ads for The Grey – they saw guys running away from wolves and Neeson throwing up his dukes. Yes, this stuff does happen, just not in the way you’d think it would happen. And when things get rough, they’re believably rough. And besides, the wolves in this movie are merely metaphorical creations; to literalize every single thing we see in a feature film is to do a disservice to the artists who are asking more of us as viewers. Carnahan is a 70’s influenced filmmaker, interested in character as much as action, and his output over the years has been interesting to observe. I’ve always felt that he’s constantly at odds with the money-guys, as he’s always interested in digging beneath the surface of things, whether or not that’s what people want to see. He’s due to have that film that truly blows him up and I can’t wait for that day. With The Grey, I was not prepared for how still and patient the filmmaking would be one minute, and then how visceral and violent it would get the next. It's a slug-to-the-gut type movie, a piece of work that will haunt anyone who encounters it. Featuring one of the most harrowing depictions of a plane crash ever captured on film and ending on a note of tremendous ambiguity and narrative power, The Grey isn’t a film for the weak stomached or weak willed.

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