Aneesh Chaganty

Posts Tagged ‘drive’

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 #326 Drive

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2011 at 7:49 AM

Movie #326 Drive

(2011, US, d. Nicolas Winding Refn)

A lot of people will love this movie but a lot of people will hate it as well. And considering the number of rave reviews this film has gotten thus far, it’s easy to go in with the mentality you will love this movie. But it’s a very unique picture. And for the reasons that qualify it as such a unique film are the same reasons for me calling it one of the most powerful and tonally-consistent films of 2011. First of all, despite the R rating and trailers cut up to make it appear as if Drive is some sort of independent answer to the Fast and Furious campaign, this is not the case. Drive is a psychological film, a quiet film, and an existential film. It does not answer any questions. Hell it barely raises any. In fact, despite the regular script with a regular amount of dialogue, actors Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and director Nicolas Winding Refn decided that dialogue goes completely against the core beings of some of the lead characters and let go with any real verbal interactions. What we have from there is more of a moody piece. Something that challenges us to read between the lines, study the eyes of Gosling (an incredible performer), and the smile of Mulligan. It is a complex film that brings into light some very serious issues, all the while raising the tension with a slowly boiling subplot that soon takes over the third act. This is where the violence kicks in. It may feel random and even excessive to some audience members, but it has always had to be this way. Refn creates such a unique and retro tone to this film, through use of music and truly inspired lighting, as well as the character of Driver (Gosling) – a stunt driver for movies by day, driver by night – that violence was the only answer to this film. But this extremely graphic violence serves a purpose. We don’t see a man’s head literally being crushed to create a cheap effect – it is for juxtaposition, it is for style, irony, and substance. Such is the case with Drive. One may make no sense out of it all. That’s valid: We never learn anything out of the main character. But there is incredible craft behind this film: a careful process of creativity and the most difficult task a film can accomplish – a consistent tone. Refn does this, and he does it with incredible flair. Drive is a film that will be looked back upon in a few years as raising a new voice and tone in filmmaking. It’s a wonderfully existential piece that challenges us to go along for a drive with the main character, thought we may never know who he is and what he really is up to.