When film directors stage a scene from the mid-1970s, we all know how it’s done: They’ll clear everything out of a shot — commercial signage, etc. — that violates the period, and then they’ll plunk down a bunch of 1970s parked cars. Yet what they end up with still doesn’t usually look like the period — it looks prefab — and watching Blood Ties, a rivetingly scuzzy and authentic New York cops-and-crime drama (it’s set in 1974), starring Clive Owen as a hard case who has just gotten out of prison and Billy Crudup as his straight-arrow policeman brother, I realized what those shots are usually missing. In Blood Ties, it’s not just the cars, or the clothes, that look right — even the garbage on the streets looks right. It looks like ’70s trash. (It’s New York before the city got a makeover.) Blood Ties was directed by Guillaume Canet, who made the mesmerizing 2008 French mystery-thriller Tell No One, and while you might think that a 40-year-old European filmmaker would be the last person to get America in the ’70s right, Canet obviously knows the place, and has studied his movies. A tale of how the small-time underworld really operates, Blood Ties evokes the brilliantly ramshackle, down-and-dirty spirit of Sidney Lumet, which Canet blends with his own inquisitive heart. The movie takes its time, and it’s two-and-a-half hours long, but if you roll with it, it pays off. READ FULL STORY
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