TWO LOVERS
2008, Magnolia Pictures, 108 min, USA, Dir: James Gray

Director James Gray reunites with Joaquin Phoenix (star of the director's THE YARDS and WE OWN THE NIGHT) for a romantic drama about the impetuousness of desire vs. the comfort of love. Phoenix plays Leonard, an emotionally wounded man torn between two women: Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious and beautiful neighbor, and Sandra, the lovely and caring daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family's dry-cleaning business. Leonard becomes deeply infatuated with Michelle at the same time that mounting pressure from his family pushes him toward committing to Sandra, forcing him into an impossible decision. With Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, John Ortiz and Moni Moshonov.


THE IMMIGRANT
2013, The Weinstein Company, 120 min, USA, Dir: James Gray

This Palme d'Or nominee from director James Gray was largely inspired by his grandparents’ experiences coming to America in 1923. Marion Cotillard stars as Ewa, a Polish immigrant whose sister is quarantined when the two arrive at Ellis Island. Desperate to help her sister, Ewa soon is caught between small-time pimp Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) and his cousin, Emil (Jeremy Renner). Outstanding performances and striking cinematography (by Darius Khondji) bring the period’s gritty reality to life much better than any history book.


ENTER LAUGHING
1967, Sony Repertory, 112 min, USA, Dir: Carl Reiner

Carl Reiner's first feature is an astonishingly assured debut, with a visual polish (thanks largely to veteran cinematographer Joseph Biroc) and a deep sense of personal expression (it was based on Reiner's autobiographical novel of the same name). Reni Santoni plays a young Jewish man who dreams of becoming a comedian during the Depression. Needless to say, his parents think that working in the family drugstore is a safer bet. Even in this early film, Reiner shows his skill at casting secondary roles, with a supporting cast that includes Shelley Winters, Elaine May, Jose Ferrer, Jack Gilford, Janet Margolin and Michael J. Pollard.


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