Aneesh Chaganty

Posts Tagged ‘crash’

The Place Beyond the Pines | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2013 at 8:40 PM


The Place Beyond the Pines

(2013, US, d. Derek Cianfrance)

A cross-generational epic far different from its trailers yet far better than any expectations I had, The Place Beyond the Pines is a moving, thrilling, and thought-provoking film from Blue Valentine writer/director Derek Cianfrance.

To give much of the plot away woud be a disservice to what Cianfrance tries to accomplish. Told through three separate, but intertwining stories, The Place Beyond the Pines chronicles the complex, violence-ridden personalities in the small town of Schenectady, New York as well as the consequences of those characters.

Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stunt rider who visits Schenectady on a carnival tour. To his surprise, he receives a visit from Romina (Eva Mendes) – a woman we’re led to assume Glanton had a fling with the last time he was in town. It’s unclear what Romina’s intentions are with the visit – especially considering that she has a new husband and a son – but Glanton can’t get her out of his mind.

The next day, Glanton quits the carnival business, his mind set on creating a stable life for Romina. Jealous of her husband’s ability to provide for her, and torn by Romina’s conflicting emotions, Glanton is swayed into a get-rich-quick scheme proposed by Robin (Barry Mendelsohn), a shady and highly amusing local: rob a bank. What follows are some of the most high-octane and heart-stopping action sequences even Hollywood pros would swoon over.

To get into more of Glanton’s story would be giving away too much; be wary of any reviews that do. From there on in the film, we’re introduced to Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious police officer forced to face the consequences of a police incident at the beginning of his story arc. As he tries to move on past the event, a series of obstacles – both internal and external – block his path to moving on.

There are a few other surprises here as well, but I don’t want to get into them as much. The most you’ll get out of this movie will only come from knowing the least about it, which sort of puts me into an uncomfortable position. But enough about the plot.

The Place Beyond the Pines is a touching, sobering, hypnotic and beautifully photographed experience, more lyrical than formulaic. Don’t let the marketing campaign fool you: this is a quiet picture, but it’s a picture with a lot to say. About guilt. About absence. About fatherhood. About love.

Derek Cianfrance seizes full control of the camera’s motion, taking overused tricks and employing them slowly and effectively to increase tension and illuminate character. His wide, repetitive sweeping shots capture immense arrays of emotion, underscore the mirror-relationships of the three stories, all the while still staying true to the heart of the constantly evolving picture. In fact, for as poetic as this film is, there are enough plot-twists to keep a popcorn audience coming back for more.

Powerfully acted, intimately told, and painfully moving, The Place Beyond the Pines marks a significant milestone for Derek Cianfrance’s career. Transitioning from the scale of Blue Valentine to this isn’t easy, but he makes it look that way. I guess that’s what happens when you spend 30 drafts and 5 years on a script. In any case: keep a keen eye out for this film. 

As early as it is, I have a strong feeling this may end up at on the higher side of my Top 10 of the year list. It’s just that good.


Movie #333 Crash

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2011 at 7:41 AM

Movie #333 Crash

(2004, US, d. Paul Haggis)

It’s hard to get an ensemble movie right. It’s even harder to make that movie stand alone. Crash not only succeeds in both of these tasks, but surpasses them emotionally a million times over. What often happens with short vignettes that try to come together and point to a uniform thematic point is that though the overall message is praise-worthy, the individual segments are cheesy or worst, not genuine. I mean, it’s a logical error. When faced with little time, screenwriters will often use the most expedited ways to tell stories. These usually involve shortcuts, and not the pretty ones. Screenwriters Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco thankfully don’t fall into this trap. Instead, somehow they are able to use the time to their own advantage, selling complex stories in practically no time at all. This is a film about Los Angeles and after living here for a few years, you come to love those movies, because Hollywood movies that portray the real LA are rare and hard to come by. Even rarer are the ones with a redeeming message. Crash is that sort of film. With an incredible ensemble cast including Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Chris Bridges, Michael Pena, Matt Dillon, Ryan Philippe, Thandie Newton, and Terrence Howard, it is the sort of film that if written well, you don’t really have to worry too much about how the performances will turn out. It is a film about unity and a film about our connectedness, and in order to that, it is a film that highlights our differences. Crash is a wonderful piece of filmmaking. Moving, powerful, and touching, it’s a film that doesn’t leave the mind, or the senses, easily.