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Justin Hanvey

The Place Beyond The Pines

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Cianfrance and Gosling team up again (Blue Valentine) for a crime thriller in which Gosling plays a motorcycle stuntman contemplating committing a crime in order to provide for his newborn son, and the subsequent actions that place him on a collision course with a cop turned politician (Bradley Cooper).

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The review I did for InRO. The star rating is maybe a bit generous, but when you compare this movie to the other just outright awful movies I've seen this year, this one really is very good. Even without that, though, I'd say it's impressive.

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Now I really want to see it. The trailer already had me sold, it has a nice atmosphere to it.

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Yikes. Two reviewers I respect are not holding back on Twitter. Nictate walked out after 20 minutes. Glenn Kenny's agreeing with her that it was "REAL bad." Maybe I'll skip this screening after all.

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Wow. After 20 minutes? The whole film shifts gears after 55 minutes and again at about the 1:30 mark. Now, I'm not going to say it's wonderful, but if you leave after 30 minutes you need to just take a pass and keep your mouth shut.

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You don't think a reviewer should tweet about it if the first 20 minutes of a movie prove so unbearable that she walks out?

I'd say you probably shouldn't review the movie if you walked out early — unless you're writing to file a grievance as a caution to others, as I did with Compliance. (And I made it clear that I couldn't give the film a full review.)

But reviewers are a very social community on Twitter, and I certainly don't begrudge them testifying if they found a movie too bad to sit through.

Anyway, Kenny stayed for the whole thing. FWIW, here's his review.

Edited by Overstreet

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You don't think a reviewer should tweet about it if the first 20 minutes of a movie prove so unbearable that she walks out?

I'd say you probably shouldn't review the movie if you walked out early — unless you're writing to file a grievance as a caution to others, as I did with Compliance. (And I made it clear that I couldn't give the film a full review.)

But reviewers are a very social community on Twitter, and I certainly don't begrudge them testifying if they found a movie too bad to sit through.

Reviewer community aside... Is a reviewer not sitting through it and making public commentary "fair." More than the reviewer community follows the reviewer on that very public space: Twitter.

I'm not saying walking out shouldn't ever be done. After I threw my shoe across the room 2/3rds of the way through Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged I have no pause in stating it's a vile piece of literature. But I'm not a professional critic.

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When the reviewer is on a social network chatting with friends, it's a little different than when that person is "on the job" publishing criticism. For me, anyway. I don't want the fact that I write reviews to mean I'm always "on the job" and thus am disqualified from casual forms of expression.

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But when it is fairly public, as a tweet, it does serve as the equivalent of a review. (In this case, the movie isn't worth my watching it to tell you how bad it is.) What I say or hear in a screening room (or even in a private email [assuming such a thing is possible]) is one thing. What I tweet or say on facebook where there are not only other writers but many others is quite another.

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I really liked it. It had me riveted throughout, with lots of tension in places, and I just loved the themes of justice, guilt, and scathed over conscience (but the guilt is still there underneath). I loved how they broke some of the typical story structural rules in ways that worked for this film.

As Glenn Kenny's review said, it did get a little weird when the teenagers were introduced, not so much with the D.A's son but more with the other kid. His actions and motivations just weren't consistent with a kid who seemed to have grown up in a good loving family. It was too extreme.

Edited by Attica

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Surprised there's not more chatter here.

I'd like to know what it was that caused Nictate to walk out.

[Edit: all I could dig up was a tweet in which she says that after twenty minutes she "didn't give a sh*t" about "anything happening on the screen." Hmmm. Whatever the case, the nature of the tweet seems to make superfluous any argument about her responsibility as a public voice, because she doesn't really make a comment about the quality of the film as a whole so much as about her interest in its first 20 minutes, particularly when she doesn't really offer any specifics about how the film itself is uninteresting].

Edited by Nick Olson

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Surprised there's not more chatter here.

I'd like to know what it was that caused Nictate to walk out.

[Edit: all I could dig up was a tweet in which she says that after twenty minutes she "didn't give a sh*t" about "anything happening on the screen." Hmmm]

I've nearly walked out of or turned off movies that I felt like that about, but I am curious if there was another reason as well. When I saw it, I was having a hard time imaging a reason that would drive someone out in the first 20 minutes.

I thought the transitions among the different storylines were a bit rough, especially the transition to the sons' story, but overall I thought it was pretty good. I really enjoyed the performances, and I thought it raised some really good points about the effects of sin, even seemingly harmless sins.

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I caught this film last night and rather liked it, though it had some possible plot holes if I thought about them. (I don't regard mere coincidences as plot holes. I do, however, wonder why the corrupt cops assumed that Bradley Cooper's character would join in their corruption so easily, especially given that Cooper's character is the son of a state supreme court judge. I also wasn't sure that I "bought" Cooper's switch from naivete to coldly-calculating politico. And why is it that everyone in Eva Mendes' life keeps telling other people things that she wants to keep secret?)

I can't help wondering if the film would get more respect in certain quarters if it had been in a foreign language and subtitled.

I'll say this much, though: I'm glad I went into the film knowing nothing about its structure, and especially knowing nothing about its ultimate focus on the sons. I like the way the film encourages a certain kind of perspective or empathy by making multiple characters protagonists in their own stories. (When Jason points the gun at Cooper's character, in a part of the film that is clearly *Jason's* story, all I could think about was how Cooper had once held Jason when he was a baby -- a fact that Jason is utterly oblivious to.)

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I caught this film last night and rather liked it, though it had some possible plot holes if I thought about them. (I don't regard mere coincidences as plot holes. I do, however, wonder why the corrupt cops assumed that Bradley Cooper's character would join in their corruption so easily, especially given that Cooper's character is the son of a state supreme court judge. I also wasn't sure that I "bought" Cooper's switch from naivete to coldly-calculating politico.)

I bought Cooper's transition, because he was clearly shown to be very ambitious even while he was naive and "innocent." He was asking to be promoted to DA, even before he began blackmailing. He also semi-eagerly shot Gosling first, which I thought supported his character's ambitious, self-promoting nature. I thought the film strongly indicated that his father was corrupt as well, which is why I thought the corrupt cops assumed he would join them.

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Overstreet had said:

:I kept trying to figure out whether this film adds up to more than the sum of its parts. All possibilities seem unsettling. What am I supposed to feel about the fact that Gosling's bank robber is filmed with a kind of worshipful awe — Cianfrance is clearly enamored of this guy — while Bradley Cooper's cop never seems better than a dopey idealist. We're not encouraged to feel sympathy for him the way we are for the bank robber. That troubles me.

I dunno. I never read it that way. I was sympathetic towards, and also unsettled by, both characters. I feel that way towards criminals in general. Unsettled by their terrible deeds, but sympathetic towards them because I know how they are so often, at least in part, a product of their cultures, peer pressure, abusive childhoods, ect. ect. I'm certainly not saying that they don't have any responsibility for their actions.

So I thought this film did a good job of trying to wrestle with these dynamics, and their results. If we are encouraged to feel more sympathy for the bank robber I'd think it is to enhance our views on what the cop did. His deception and moral struggles are more impacting to us because we care for the person whom he has wrongly killed and thus become a hero. Without that sympathy that part of the story wouldn't have had as much meaning to me. It helped me to empathize with the cop's guilty conscience because I knew and at least somewhat cared for the person he had killed. It helped hit home better what he had done. He had killed a fellow human being, with cares, desires, feelings, ect.

That, for me at least, was where the film added up to more than the sum of its parts. It was about the conscience in all of these people. Some were more scathed over than others. One guy's scathed over conscience came from a bad background combined with a desire to do right for his kid. Thus the bank robber's conscience desired to do right for his kid, but then because of this got scathed over in that he robbed banks. His bosses conscience had become scathed over as well. The cops conscience was in the process of becoming scathed over like his fellow corrupt police officers, but there was still that goodness underneath, in his conscience, nagging at him. But he, unlike the bank robber, didn't desire to do right to his kid. The bank robbers crimes came, in part, out of a misguided care for his family, the cops, largely, out of a desire for personal gain, at the eventual cost of his family.

Thus the cops son, because of his fathers neglect, had a scathed over conscience, to the point that he became a bully, and an ass in general.

But in the end we see some healing and redemption for some of these people, and see that the cops conscience might have been scathed over, but it still had been there nagging at him all along. That is goodness in him. We see hints of this goodness in all of the characters sometimes even partially leading to their confused and misguided actions.

The film was unsettling, but it was also quite sympathetic to humanity, even in our dark places. That works for me, and I'd then think that it has some good insights into, and love for, humanity.

Edited by Attica

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Very impressed by this film and would like to know more about the director's visual approach within the film. I was thinking of Soderbergh's The Underneath at time while watching Pines, but I'm not sure Cianfrance has given each storyline such a distinct visual appearance. The first two stories do look strikingly different, but the third -- well, nothing really leaped out at me about the way that story was filmed.

 

It's too late for me to start clicking around to read up on this film, but if anyone knows of recommended writing about this film, I'd appreciate you pointing me to those articles. Thank you.

Edited by Christian

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I thought Elvis Mitchell interviewed Derek Cianfrance on The Treatment, but I guess I was wrong.  I must have heard this interview with Cianfrace from The Business, and then seen the film shortly thereafter.

The Business

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"The Place Beyond the Pines" is the English translation for Schenectady, the name of the city in Albany, upstate New York, in which much of the film takes place.

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