Saturday, December 26, 2015

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (2012)



Directed By: Derek Cianfrance 
Written By: Derek Cianfrance , Ben Coccio & Darius Marder 
Story By: Derek Cianfrance & Ben Coccio 
Cinematography By: Sean Bobbitt 
Editor: Jim Helton & Ron Patane 
Music By: Mike Patton 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta, Harris Yulin, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Dale DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Bruce Greenwood, Robert Clohessy, Gabe Fazio


The film is ambitious and while it tells a big story it keeps it place in one place.

3 acts that involve 3 separate stories and take place in different time periods. That could be their own short film though are continuously connected by the characters. As we get to revisit them throughout.

A mysterious and mythical motorcycle racer, Luke, drives out of a traveling carnival globe of death and whizzes through the backstreets of Schenectady, New York, desperately trying to connect with a former lover, Romina, who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider's son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross, looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. The sweeping drama unfolds over fifteen years as the sins of the past haunt the present days lives of two high school boys wrestling with the legacy they've inherited. The only refuge is found in the place beyond the pines

The film is essentially a story about the relationships between fathers and sons. Their need for one another.

The filmmaking is ambitious also even though it seems the biggest production by the director and also the most normal narratively. As luckily he keeps his style more hyper real and doesn't seem to put a Hollywood polish on anything in the film including the actors. Who all do so much with glances, body language and looks that make them understandable and shine throughout.

The films philosophy seems to follow the theme. There are no heroes or villains, just people some make the right decisions. Some make the wrong ones we are never 100% right or wrong. We are all weak to certain wishes, hopes and desires. Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Like a western the film uses atmosphere a lot while being more of a straight plotted story.

Ryan Gosling plays his usual type of quiet brooding Romantic, but here he seems more angry though his character is less violent then his usual. He also manages to really show his charisma as in the role he could have played it easily one note, but here he is so full of contradictions yet manages to come off troubled yet decent. That you do root for him.

The first act of the film reminds the viewer of Ryan gosling and Director Derek Cianfrance's previous film together. BLUE VALENTINE. It gives off a realism, but with a sensational story of Ryan gosling past traveling stunt rider finding out he has a son trying to do right by having money and support him and trying to win back the boy's mother. That dive him to do something desperate and extreme. Though he's our anti-hero and likable we are also open to his flaws. It ends tragically while passing the baton of the story to Bradley Cooper who is the star of story 2 that while involving some of the characters from story.

The method Luke and Robin Played by Ryan Gosling and Ben Mendelsohn use to rob the banks was the actual method 'Friday Night Robber' Carl Gugasian successfully used for over 30 years. Supposedly the bank robbing scenes were all done in one take.

We now get involved in his story that involves police corruption and trying to forge his own path different from his father. This section of the film plays like Sidney Lumet lite and far less sensational Though more emotional. . It deals more with Bradley cooper's character internal struggle and Cooper does really well with the role he is grounded and real. It seems a little parallel to his career at the time with the characters struggle to prove himself. He want a to be just one of the guys, yet also want s to rise up above them and be noticed. The story just doesn't have the same strong and personal affect as act one. It feels like a western without the glorious shoot out. Here you end up remembering the villains who color the story rather then the hero doing the right thing. You more remember the actor playing the hero.

Director Derek Cianfrance claims that he would not have made the movie without Bradley Cooper cast as Avery Cross. In fact, he drove 5 hours to Montreal to meet with Cooper in person to convince him to take the role. Cianfrance says he did write the role for Cooper - "a guy who's paraded around as a hero but inside feels corrupted."

The third act deals with the children of both characters as the baton seems to be passed to Bradley cooper's son who is in the last shot of act two now all grown up. Though it more deals with the son of Ryan Gosling's character and is played more authentically by Dale DeHaan rather than Bradley Cooper's son played by Emory Cohen who to me is the films only weak link as he seems to overplay the role. Rather than be natural. It doesn't help his character is a scumbag who it's hard to ever feel sympathy for and throughout the film sports a ridiculous over the top Long Island accent. Though his character might be trying to put up a front and  more dangerous then he actually is, The characters start a friendship unbeknownst to either of them their parents past with one another. This begins to build into a revenge story with plenty of tension that builds and builds and is unpredictable as it gains in mass. We also get a update on many of the characters.

Dale DeHaan is really a standout here he has his usual creepy, yet withdrawn sensitive look and character. That work well here without going into caricature.

Greta Gerwig was originally cast in the role Rose Byrne ended up taking over as a result due to Gerwig’s scheduling problems. Also Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ginnifer Goodwin auditioned for that same role.

Eva Mendes is quietly affecting throughout the film as the character who seems to be the most innocent yet also the most punished character. This is one of the few times she has really been tested as an actress and comes through with flying Colors. Shocked as beautiful as she is, she was never offered a role in the SIN CITY films. She has a classic beauty and fits into the role she plays here perfectly. Attractive enough to be a fling then discovering a decency about her and wanting to be with her. Though now it's complicated as another man she is involved with and stepped up to take care of her and her child and protects them at all costs. Here luckily they don't make the guy an asshole or a villain though not generally fleshed out fully until the end.

Rather than hold a typical audition for Eva Mendes director Derek Cianfrance, had her drive him around L.A. and show him her favourite places to determine whether she was the right choice to play Romina.

Director Derek Cianfrance cited TV shows such as Cops and America's Wildest Police Chases as inspiration for the bulk of the film's chase scenes.

Bradley Cooper Doesn’t Appear until nearly 50 minutes into the film and Ryan Gosling only appears in the first 50 minutes of the film.

Derek Cianfrance shot 22 takes of Ryan Gosling performing the stunt of speeding the motorcycle past the intersection before 36 cars crashed into one another. Cianfrance originally wanted a stunt double to do it but could not hide the stuntman. He also noted that for each take until Gosling finally got it right, he chewed his shirt in nervousness until there was a hole in it by the time the stunt was over. In fact Two months before filming, Andrij Parekh, who shot BLUE VALENTINE, refused to do the film largely because of the Globe of Death stunt in the opening. According to Derek Cianfrance, Parekh spoke to him on the phone saying he refused to do the film because he had dreamed that he would be killed during filming. This nearly became a reality, as during the filming of the stunt, cinematographer Sean Bobbitt was himself nearly killed; luckily he was only knocked unconscious when a motorcycle landed on top of him during filming the second take of the stunt inside the cage. At the time, he was wearing heavy protection gear and a helmet.

Overall the movie is affecting and affective as the film feels naturalistic and not particularly stylish, not distracting nor surrealistic as another naturalistic filmmaker Terrence Malik. Luckily not as abstract and confusing as some of his films.

In this film though the past is history it also carries a great knowledge and weight. That helps shape the outcome of not only the present, but the future.

The film feels like it is on the search for something, definition maybe?. Luckily it finds it's way, but not totally which leaves toy expecting a bit more. It still leaves you satisfied.

Grade: B

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