In the new film by director James Gray there is a lot of autobiography but there is also talk of an America divided more than ever and ready to start the Reagan era
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There’s some irony in that Good Times of the Chic that you listen to at the beginning of the trailer for Armageddon Time – the time of the apocalypse. It is clear from the title that James Gray’s new film does not make a happy historical period coincide with the protagonist’s youth, at least for the United States. America’s Armageddon Time it is a split nation, made up of factions that, in order to move forward, must pretend to ignore those who fare worse in a divided country where rancor is sown that will lead to today’s problems.
Fifty Shades of Gray
Armageddon Time, Anthony Hopkins in the film
James Gray has chosen to make his most political but at the same time most autobiographical film. In fact, we can recognize the same boy filmmaker behind little Paul Graff, who in 1980 tries to make friends with a black boy by clashing with the obtuseness of a country that is still slimy racist. There are many similarities between director and alter-ego, starting with that surname that the Jewish family in both cases was forced to change once they arrived in the New Continent. Gray makes an operation already attempted by other colleagues in recent times, from Alfonso Cuarón to Kenneth Branagh through Paul Thomas Anderson: to use the story of his own childhood to filter, through the eyes of a young man, a historical period of strong transition. In particular, the film that passed in Cannes in 2022 looks like Rome by Cuarón: in both films the story is told from the point of view of a privileged person, who watches closely (but in any case at a safe distance) the everyday life of those less fortunate than him.
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God bless America
Jessica Chastain is Maryanne in Armageddon Time
A few seconds of the trailer are enough to give the idea of the atmosphere of the film. You see Ronald Reagan on TV and the eighties begin with all that load of nonsense that they carry with them. Paul is a child but he experiences the change underway on his skin, in a nation where the foundations of Trumpism are already present (and not just because Fred Trump and his daughter Maryanne are actually active characters in the film). His grandfather Aron plays a bit of a talking cricket, masterfully played by the great Anthony Hopkinsin a cast that includes as well Anne Hathaway And Jeremy Strong (in the role of the protagonist’s parents). After exploring new worlds and moving from space to the Amazon over the course of the last two films, James Gray returns to his New York, the city that has been the stage for some of his best behind-the-camera rehearsals. He does it to tell a Queens where no one is really comfortable with him, no one is really satisfied, in an endless race that involves everyone without giving the time to look back. According to Gray, it was the time of the apocalypse and we certainly did not live the “good times” that Nile Rodgers and associates sang: who was there then did not notice or rather pretended not to notice. Who knows if he did well.