Aneesh Chaganty

Posts Tagged ‘ray liotta’

The Place Beyond the Pines | MAD Review

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

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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.

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“Killing Them Softly” | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2012 at 1:24 AM

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Killing Them Softly

(2012, US, d. Andrew Dominik)

About 50 minutes into this film, things started falling apart. But let’s backtrack a little.

Killing Them Softly is the new movie written and directed by Andrew Dominik, who hasn’t come out with a feature film since the incredible The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – also featuring Brad Pitt. From the trailers, the posters (seriously insane posters) and even the logline, this film had so much going for it. After sitting through the first 45 minutes, I was thinking that it was going to be one of the best films of the year.

What Killing Them Softly did so well in the first half the film was crack the audience up at the same time it made them squeam, gasp, groan, and increase their heart rates with the tension. There were parts in the first half of the movie, the whole audience was clapping, cheering, and screaming. Sounds like a tall task, but Dominik makes it look easy. Not only does he make it look easy, he makes it look good. The cinematography in this film will blow you away. On the drive home, I was told they shot it on film, which I still didn’t believe considering what they were able to pull off.

And then the rest of the movie happens. The problem with the rest of the movie is that it thinks it’s a lot better than it actually is. The number of monologues start to increase. Dialogue takes supreme precedence over the action – but this dialogue is not dialogue that pushes the plot forward; it’s dialogue that nails the audience over the head with the theme of the piece. Never before have I seen a movie with such blatant thematic overtones. Yes, this was the point and there were moments (particularly the last scene), where it worked in its favor, but Dominik takes it way too far. In fact, by the end, I was left wondering: was this a film about capitalism and greed (as it was intended to be) or just a film about nihilism?

On a side note, whoever let James Gandolfini take up 25 minutes of this film in a monologue about his sexual experiences and alcoholic tendencies needs to reevaluate their creative priorities.

I’m excited to give this film a second viewing. Considering how much thought and analysis was put into every frame, I think it deserves that much. And again, I want to reinforce how brilliant the first half of this film was. I’d see it again just for that. But if you’re looking for something more emotionally fulfilling – even if it’s on the nihilistic scale – I’d just stick to Burn After Reading.