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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Yards (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


In 'The Yards' an ex-con who took the fall for a friend returns to his family in Queens, NY only to find them pulling him into a world of graft and danger.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The Yards -- After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection Volume Two (1990 - 2002) (Imprint)

The Yards is a gritty crime thriller directed and co-written by James Gray, who would later direct We Own the Night and Ad Astra. Set in Queens, New York, the story follows Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) who we meet as he is riding the subway to his family’s place in Queens. He has recently been released from prison after serving some time for a crime he did not commit. His mother Val (Ellen Burstyn) is holding a welcome back party for him.

While at the party Leo runs into his cousin Erica Soltz (Charlize Theron) and there seem to be some forbidden, incestuous sparks between the pair. Her boyfriend Willie Gutierrez (Joaquin Phoenix) is also there. He also happens to be the guy Leo took the fall for. Willie works for Leo’s Uncle Frank (James Caan). Uncle Frank has set up Leo with a job down at the railyards to help him get back on his feet. But Uncle Frank’s organization and the entire city of New York’s rail system are infiltrated by graft, rivalries, and violence. When Willie ropes Leo into a job hobbling a rival rail company’s coaches at the Sunnyside railyards, it leads to trouble and a betrayal for Leo.

The Yards is a slow-burn thriller with a number of excellent performances from a magnificent cast, which includes Faye Dunaway and Victor Argo. Gray’s direction and the production designers capture the authentic feel of Queens, even if Wahlberg, a native Bostonian, does not quite hit that New York intonation.

Even with everything that is right with the film, The Yards never seems to heat up. The slow-burn never reaches the boiling point it feels like it is trying to reach. It stays on an even keel, and the ending feels a little anti-climactic.

  • After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection Volume Two (1990 - 2002) (Imprint)
  • Mark Wahlberg in The Yards (2000)
  • Charlize Theron and Joaquin Phoenix in The Yards (2000)
  • Mark Wahlberg in The Yards (2000)
  • Joaquin Phoenix in The Yards (2000)
  • Charlize Theron in The Yards (2000)
  • Joaquin Phoenix in The Yards (2000)
  • James Caan in The Yards (2000)
  • The Yards --  After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection Volume Two (1990 - 2002) (Imprint)

The Video

The Yards comes in a 2.40:1 AVC 1080p encodement on Blu-ray from Imprint. The film was shot using 35mm Kodak Vision 320T 5277 and Eastman EXR 500T 5298 film stock in the anamorphic format on the Panavision Panaflex Platinum camera with Panavision C- and E-Series lenses. This is a bit of a gritty film with a subdued color pallet that alternates between warmer brown shades and cooler greys and metallic colors. The filmic quality comes through in the source, which looks a little rugged but is in sum satisfying. There is a little bit of noisiness in the low light sequences but the shadows, such as during the consequential railyard scene, yield adequate detail.

The Audio

The impressionist score by Howard Shore is what stands out in this English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix. The sound is subdued, yet it works for this sort of dialogue-driven film. The surround channels carry low-level atmospherics and the front channels carry a good spread of the aforementioned score and clear dialogue.

The Supplements

From the Limited Edition 7-Disc Hardbox After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection Two (1990-2002) with 60-page booklet, featuring essays from film critics Peter Galvin, Blake Howard & Alexei Toliopoulos.

On the Discs:

  • Director’s Cut (Disc 1):
    • Audio Commentary by Writer/Director James Gray and Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh
    • Audio Commentary by Writer/Director James Gray
  • Theatrical Cut (Disc 2):
  • Creating Authenticity – Interview with director James Gray (NEW) (1080p; 00:20:16)
  • Motherhood Through the Method – Actress Ellen Burstyn on her life, career and The Yards (NEW) (1080p; 00:14:08)
  • Designing Queens – production designer Kevin Thompson on The Yards (NEW) (1080p; 00:12:16)
  • Film critic Tim Robey on The Yards (NEW) (1080p; 00:28:29)
  • Visualizing The Yards – Featurette (SD; 00:12:01)
  • Behind the Scenes – Featurette (SD; 00:12:02)
  • Roundtable discussion with Charlize Theron, Mark Wahlberg, James Caan, and James Gray (SD; 00:30:48)
  • 8 Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by writer/director James Gray) (SD; 00:06:27)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p)

The Final Assessment

A visually strong, stylish, and brilliantly cast neo-noir. The story may not ever resonate with the power the filmmaker intended, but above all, with the power of the cast, score, and aesthetic, it is still worth a look.

The Yards is available on Blu-ray in After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection Two (1990-2002) out in Australia 7 December 2022, from Imprint Films. Available to purchase from the Via Vision/Imprint Films website.

  • Rating Certificate: Australia:M
  • Studios & Distributors: Miramax | Industry Entertainment | Imprint Films
  • Director: James Gray
  • Written By: James Gray | Matt Reeves
  • Run Time: 115 Mins.
  • Street Date: 7 December 2022 (After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection Two (1990-2002)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English HOH

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In 'The Yards' an ex-con who took the fall for a friend returns to his family in Queens, NY only to find them pulling him into a world of graft and danger.The Yards (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)