“The boos are the cost of being lucky. But they’re still hard to hear,” director James Gray recently told the LA Times about the reception he received in Cannes for 2008’s “Two Lovers.” But the filmmaker returned to the south of France last week to premiere his latest, “The Immigrant,” where he’s kind of like a big deal. (“James Gray is a rock star here,” one of his agents told the paper). But the reception for his most recent was certainly mixed (read our positive review here), and while Gray doesn’t mind criticism, he has little patience for those who can’t sit still for a movie that’s less than two hours.
“Well my movie is an hour and forty-eight minutes and lets scenes play, and I don’t say this generally because I know it’s not politically incorrect, but if the problem people have with the film is the pace, fuck ‘em, because we’re in Cannes, and this is not the place to be watching ‘Transformers 3,’ and they can go fuck themselves. It’s not that much work, and they should be ashamed of themselves,” he stated bluntly to Indiewire.
“I have no problem with hearing criticism, I have no problem with hearing people have a problem with the film, one way or another, but if the problem is like, ‘Oh, it was slow,’ they can go fuck themselves,” he continued. “Because movies are not barium enemas, you’re not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible. This is a place where films are supposed to be a certain thing where they take their time and you should think about them. It’s supposed to be a place where cinema is something for thought, not fast food. If that’s what they want they should stay home. Plenty of movies for them in the multiplex, is what I would say.”
When it’s suggested that some might’ve embraced the film more had it been in a foreign language, Gray is unsurprisingly unforgiving: “What happens is different cultures demand different things of you. I’m embarrassed for those people; I think that’s an embarrassing response. They should turn on a neon sign on that says ‘I’m a moron.’ “
And Gray is certainly not a director who can’t recognize his own weaknesses. “I was walking around in college in the early 1990s like I was the greatest thing since sliced bread,” he shared with the Times. “I mean, 23 years old and working with Vanessa Redgrave and Edward Furlong and Tim Roth? And you know when it ended? March 9, 1994. Matt Reeves [the director, a good friend of Gray’s] came with me, and we walked to the Raleigh screening room to watch an assembly of ‘Little Odessa.’ I thought, ‘The masterpiece has now arrived.’ It was the worst movie ever. It made no sense. My confidence was destroyed.”
Indeed, it’s taken up to his fifth feature for Gray to reclaim that confidence telling us last year he felt “The Immigrant” was the “best thing I’ve ever done.” And he added that it was not a sentiment he usually has felt when making his pictures.
As for when you can decide on “The Immigrant” for yourself, it’s still awaiting a release date from The Weinstein Company.