The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

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warren oates
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The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#1 Post by warren oates » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:03 pm

Surprised to see that nobody else has written up The Place Beyond The Pines yet. A very good film and a much better and different one than I expected. This is a rare instance in which a trailer actually worked and made me want to see a film I otherwise knew nothing about and previously had no interest in. There was something mysterious, assured and innately cinematic about the images in the trailer that had me curious -- and that accurately reflects the quality of the feature film. I haven't seen the director's previous film Blue Valentine, but I'll certainly put it on my list now.

The Place Beyond The Pines' narrative unfolds more like a novel. Though it's not an adaptation, it's the sort of story that may in fact have been told in that medium a few decades ago, when the Great American Novel was more on the agenda of talented youngish storytellers than than the Great American Indie Film. It's a credit to writer/director Derek Cianfrance's work that the film takes the best of this approach, aspiring to a traditionally novelistic depth of character, setting and theme without succumbing to meandering plotlines or indulgent literary/actorly digressions. The film falters a bit in the final third, but not so much that it erases all the good stuff that comes before. And in retrospect its construction seems even more carefully considered, with all sorts of key actions and details set up for later with the most organic least showy gestures.

This strikes me as the sort of film James Gray boosters are always trying to tell me he's making: a character study disguised as a crime drama with ambitions to show us an intimate-epic vision of American men across generations. It's a long film that doesn't feel long, in large part because its strict commitment to character keeps us fully engaged in and guessing about where it's headed and what's going to happen next.

Great performances from the whole cast, but especially some of the supporting players like a virtually unrecognizable Bruce Greenwood and a pitch perfect Ben Mendelsohn as an even better version of the sort of alcoholic low-level hood he played in Killing Them Softly. Very good cinematography and editing too, creating well-crafted, compelling images that serve the story without calling undue attention to themselves.
Last edited by warren oates on Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Films of 2013

#2 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:05 pm

It's only open in NY/LA at the moment, that might be one reason why there hasn't been much discussion yet.

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Re: The Films of 2013

#3 Post by Cold Bishop » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:21 am

warren oates wrote:This strikes me as the sort of film James Gray boosters are always trying to tell me he's making: a character study disguised as a crime drama with ambitions to show us an intimate-epic vision of American men across generations... Very good cinematography and editing too, creating well-crafted, compelling images that serve the story without calling undue attention to themselves.
But at least Gray's films have a discernible style/voice... Cianfrance's film is still too much of that post-Cassavetes shaky-cam drab-realist nonsense that has turned the indie scene into a wasteland. He almost gets away with it in Blue Valentine because of it's improvisational looseness, but the novelistic scope here ultimately is more a hindrance than anything else, even if the ambitions of its intent is admirable. But ambitions alone don't make a film. An "intimate-epic" still requires an epic touch, and I see nothing here but textbook "naturalism".

And it doesn't help that's he's dealing entirely with stock scenarios and cliches. The bank robber trying to provide for his family. The idealist cop trying to clean up a corrupt police force (hell, Ray Liotta already did this with Cop Land!). The final act's fusion of out-of-control teens and revenge film. The pivotal, climatic moment is something we've seen a hundred times before:
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wherein a character is taken out to the woods by gun point and is forced to beg for his life
The very familiarity and predictability of these scenarios get in the way of the sort of "honest spontaneity" that Cianfrance seems to striving for, and which only pop up in fleeting moments and images. Nor is he enough of a stylist to breath life into seemingly cliche genre thrills (something I do find in the films of Gray... and, in fact, the Gosling-Refn duo).

Even though it's his third film, following the breakthrough success of Blue Valentine, it really suffers from the "sophomore syndrome" which find directors overreaching and doing something that exceeds their grasp. Maybe a few films down the line, Cianfrance could have pulled this off, but ultimately, the film stumbles onward from a really assured opening third.

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Re: The Films of 2013

#4 Post by warren oates » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:48 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:And it doesn't help that's he's dealing entirely with stock scenarios and cliches. The bank robber trying to provide for his family. The idealist cop trying to clean up a corrupt police force (hell, Ray Liotta already did this with Cop Land*!). The final act's fusion of out-of-control teens and revenge film. The pivotal, climatic moment is something we've seen a hundred times before:
SpoilerShow
wherein a character is taken out to the woods by gun point and is forced to beg for his life
The very familiarity and predictability of these scenarios get in the way of the sort of "honest spontaneity" that Cianfrance seems to striving for, and which only pop up in fleeting moments and images. Nor is he enough of a stylist to breath life into seemingly cliche genre thrills (something I do find in the films of Gray... and, in fact, the Gosling-Refn duo).
I liked Drive too, but Cianfrance isn't interested in surfing on the the surface of cliche at the service of some sort of hyperstylized po-mo bliss. I'd say that if the familiar situations in The Place Beyond The Pines initially come off as conventions, then it's the film's (call it "naturalistic" if you wish) investment in and fidelity to character that keeps things from devolving into mere cliche by pushing into archetype territory. Seemingly familiar situations that often evoke familiar emotions (say, sadness at the tragic inevitability of things, for instance), are renewed by the film's tracing of the idiosyncratic quirks, circumstances and choices of its characters and the volatile intersections thereof.

*By the way, if you're really reading Avery's motives as this strictly black and white, then no wonder the second third bores you, but, of course, you're just not being fair to the film on this point. It feels like you are oversimplifying Luke's motives too. Does he really want only to provide for his family, who seem perfectly well provided for before he's even aware of them as such? Or is that just one of the many factors, conscious and unconscious, that drive him to his fate?

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Re: The Films of 2013

#5 Post by Cold Bishop » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:45 pm

warren oates wrote:I'd say that if the familiar situations in The Place Beyond The Pines initially come off as conventions, then it's the film's (call it "naturalistic" if you wish) investment in and fidelity to character that keeps things from devolving into mere cliche by pushing into archetype territory.
I don't doubt that that is what he was aiming to do, but the familiarity of each situation is far too rigid - and the scope of the film too broad - for him to really properly invest in these characters. If he would have zeroed in only one piece of the triptych, I don't doubt it would have been a better, if more modest, film. And I still think that the first section is very good: Cianfrance's one undeniable talent is with actors, and he and Gosling seem to operate on the exact same wavelength in that part.
By the way, if you're really reading Avery's motives as this strictly black and white, then no wonder the second third bores you, but, of course, you're just not being fair to the film on this point.
Yes. I'm oversimplifying to make a point about the scenarios he's using. The question is whether he transcends the cliche, and frankly, I don't think he does. He mostly dresses them down so as to make them seem more soulful. Ultimately, I see nothing new or revelatory here. It's really not that far from the routine for this sort of "indie drama".

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#6 Post by warren oates » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:58 pm

What's new to me are the ways all these scenarios play out. And like I've been saying it's because of the writer/director's focus on character. Take your example of the drive to the woods, which happens twice in the film and has a visual and thematic significance (also tied to the title) beyond what takes place narratively. Neither excursion ends up the way you think it's going to or the way you've seen it end a jillion times before. There's something of the unpredictability and messiness of life in this film, even when it's about ineluctable fate, even when it uses familiar situations. And that's what kept me watching: I didn't know what was going to happen and was usually surprised -- if not by what happened then by how or why it happened.

I get that you didn't like the film. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece either. But I do think it's a bit silly to take a position like this: "Just for the sake of my argument that this film's characters/scenarios are simplistic, I'm going to oversimplify them."

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#7 Post by HistoryProf » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:41 pm

This does definitely feel like 3 separate not so short films blended together. There are the obvious threads holding them together, but when you get down to it the scaffolding is pretty weak, with the Cianfrance's main aim seeming to be using the 1st and 2nd acts to set up for what he clearly wanted to be an "explosive" finale. The tension was certainly high in the last 20 minutes or so, but I have to admit I was checking my watch after 90 had gone by and I was kind of in a "get on with it" state by that point. I'm still digesting this, but my initial reaction is that the film's primary failing is that it gives us a pretty superficial sketch of every main character - Eva Mendes in particular (who is fantastic by the way). I think he bit off more of a story than he could tell even in 140 minutes.

If this really was about the third act, then the first two could and should have been significantly shortened so we could focus more on the dynamics playing out in the third. The second act in particular could have been cut in half - most of it ends up being irrelevant to the ultimate clash between the two families. In the end, I have to agree with Cold Bishop that this is a classic case of a very talented young filmmaker - and there's no doubt that he is - overreaching after his initial success and trying to create his magnum opus 10 films too soon.

I still enjoyed it, and the performances are uniformly great, the musical choices were really interesting throughout, and Cooper continues to impress even as Ryan Gosling continues to chew up scenery and delve deeper into the nastiest side of a Steve McQueen bad guy persona. Man does he have that look down cold. Thank god the Notebook was only a launching pad and not his track!

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#8 Post by LQ » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:48 am

Thanks to warren oates for perfectly articulating my feelings about this film which all in all, I loved. Throughout, there were moments where overly familiar tropes were introduced and the film almost lost me - I had to make a conscious decision to continue buying into the storyline, only to find that the narrative either veered into an unexpected yet completely natural direction, or if it didn't, if it stuck to well-worn grooves, I found I was entirely willing to embrace it because of, as warren oates argued, Cianfrance's earnest fidelity to character development, and the actors' excellent performances. Really, I was only able to accept (and love) the entire final act because Dane DeHaan's performance was that good.

Plus, there's something to be said for the impeccable filmmaking craft that made any number of common scenarios much better than their countless counterparts: I've seen more than my fair share of bank robbery scenes, but these bank robbery scenes were incredibly, viscerally thrilling. Cianfrance certainly knows how to wield a camera well. I also thought the film captured the epic grandeur towards which it was reaching, but I credit that almost entirely to Gosling, whose performance and near-mythical physicality...
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in the first act left so much of an impression on me that I felt his specter on the 2nd and 3rd acts as much as the other characters felt it

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#9 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:02 pm

For my money this is one of the best films I've seen. Shakespeare by way of 70s independent filmmaking, littered with emotional wrecking balls and heartbreaking wallops. It truly is a shame that we've lost Roger Ebert before he got to see this film, because it does everything that his beloved but misguided Crash did with an exponential improvement in almost every area... The Place Beyond the Pines relies on coincidence but with far less ambition with regard to scope, which results in an almost otherworldly feeling - I cannot remember being moralized to in such a deliberate way and buying into it wholesale more effectively than I was watching Derek Cianfrance's masterpiece. It is the best U.S. film since Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, and I hope that you can avoid reading too much about it, dust off your awards season cobwebs, and get yourself to the theater to be bludgeoned with flawless, timeless American filmmaking.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#10 Post by rs98762001 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:14 am

The first third is nothing more than The Glorification of Ryan. The second third abruptly turns into a middling episode of a cop show. The last third grasps desperately for significance and comes up several miles short.

Overall, it's crap.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:37 am

Some review!

I can't say why this one stuck to me so much, but it's something about the way the acts of the story fold onto one another, and the way the film always proves to be more than you expect it to be:
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First we think we've got a story about a man who has a kid and needs to make ends meet. Then we think we're going to have a cat and mouse game in which he needs to constantly evade police, and is exhibiting disturbingly stalker-level behavior around the family of his young son. Then we take an entire U-turn, an incredibly surprising moment that focuses on the guilt embodied by a man between a rock and a hard place. And then that nauseating shakedown for hazard pay, and the aftermath... that first ride into the pines is genuinely terrifying... and then we jump ahead, and the film reinvents itself again, showing us through the lens of a not-so-unbelievable coincidence how one person's sins can snowball through the years without them even being around to witness it. If Gosling's character had never decided to shirk the law in order to, in his mind, take care of his kid - many people's lives would have been very different. Although, as he says - his father wasn't around, and look how he turned out. It's all one giant snowball that keeps getting bigger and bigger, and this film does one of the better jobs I've seen presenting the whole "sins of the father" motif in a compelling way.
I had no idea what was coming when I sat down for this - I hadn't read much ahead of time, and was lukewarm on Blue Valentine - but this was just masterful stuff.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#12 Post by warren oates » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:18 pm

The film is definitely about the sins of the father. But not just one father. At least four* as I count it (one who's never on screen), across three generations of men. It's also equally about the mystery of personality or, to invoke a word I keep returning to, character. The story of how we become who we are and the powerful forces that shape our lives and define our choices in ways seen and unseen. To distinguish The Place Beyond the Pines from a less complex or ambitious "we're all interconnected" film like Haggis' Crash, I'd say that the Cianfrance film consciously or not is making use of the kind of Jungian personality psychology best exemplified by the work of James HIllman.

I don't have my Hillman books handy, but the gist of it is this: We are who we are, not because of nature or nurture exactly, but also in spite of them, because of some innate irrepressible and essential quality that he variously refers to as the soul or the daimon. Wikipedia sums this up nicely: "Hillman also rejects causality as a defining framework and suggests in its place a shifting form of fate whereby events are not inevitable but bound to be expressed in some way dependent on the character of the soul of the individual."

*(Not counting the stepfather as he seems only a good influence.)

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#13 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:38 pm

Funny that you brought up the stepfather, because to me it's also about the idea that even though this man seemed very well suited to his role as Jason's father, the curiosity was there buried very shallowly under Jason's surface, and it moved very quickly from the remark to him in the locker room (took me a second to even remember where it started, because Gosling's presence hangs over this film in our minds, so we were already thinking about him when this occurred) to the potentially disastrous events a few days later on a dime. There was an emptiness in Jason all along that was merely hidden, not filled, despite the best efforts of the rest of his family. The movie finds a fascinating place in his psyche to explore.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#14 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:42 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:For my money this is one of the best films I've seen. Shakespeare by way of 70s independent filmmaking, littered with emotional wrecking balls and heartbreaking wallops. It truly is a shame that we've lost Roger Ebert before he got to see this film, because it does everything that his beloved but misguided Crash did with an exponential improvement in almost every area... The Place Beyond the Pines relies on coincidence but with far less ambition with regard to scope, which results in an almost otherworldly feeling - I cannot remember being moralized to in such a deliberate way and buying into it wholesale more effectively than I was watching Derek Cianfrance's masterpiece. It is the best U.S. film since Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, and I hope that you can avoid reading too much about it, dust off your awards season cobwebs, and get yourself to the theater to be bludgeoned with flawless, timeless American filmmaking.
Nice to see Ben Lyons is still getting work

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#15 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:02 pm

I just didn't feel like getting into a long spoiler-y thing - the movie is really built upon its twists and turns, and I wasn't in a position to write more than a blurb at that point in time, but still felt like raving. Also, fuck you \:D/

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#16 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:12 pm

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domino is mfunk's dad?

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#17 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:56 pm

I guess mfunk has taken over the reins of resident Derek Cianfrance booster now that James Mills has disappeared from the boards.

I was caught up in the film during the first act, surprisingly so as I went into this movie with a great deal of apprehension due to my considerable distaste for Blue Valentine. I've never been on the Ryan Gosling bandwagon like a lot of people and, though he's playing what's become a very familiar character in his oeuvre, Gosling felt more natural to me this time around, with his relationship to his son humanizing that bad boy outsider character he's come to excel at playing.
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In fact, as LQ mentioned, he's such a presence in his portion of the film and does such a fine job of helping the material rise above the cliches, that the later scenes after his death pulse with his ethereal presence. It's too the benefit of the film in that we sense how much his death has altered the lives of many different people, but also a detriment when compared to Bradley Cooper's second act storyline which feels more like weak connection tissue to the third act. If we are going to talking about the film in regards to the idea that it is about the sins of the father being passed down to the son, I don't see it in Cooper's storyline at all. I didn't get much out of Avery's relationship with his father besides general support, and his own bond with his infant son AJ is mostly ignored except for a throwaway line about having a hard time being in the house with the baby after the shooting. I took that to mean that he's burdened by the thought of his boy AJ being so close in age to baby Jason and what it would be like to grow up fatherless, but I wasn't sure what else to take away from that line, unless it's merely irony that he has little to do with AJ years later. Am I supposed to believe he distances himself from his infant son because he feels guilt over what happened or the absence of any interaction between him and his son is supposed to show how inattentive he is as a father? I never understood who Avery's character was supposed to be outside of a few tidbits like his moral decency and ability to navigate the politics of the local government. Third act revelations regarding his failed marriage and fatherly neglect struck me as being curveballs to ratchet up tension that hadn't been established beforehand.

What really knocked me out of the picture in the third act and ultimately ruined the film for me was the casting of Emory Cohen as AJ; I can't remember the last time I watched a movie in which I felt like a performer was so horribly miscast, who in every way imaginable - voice, mannerisms, etc - seemed wholly inappropriate for the character as written. His first scene with teenage Jason in the cafeteria had an inappropriate Neanderthal quality, so much so that my memory of the scene is the two actors grunting at each other across the table. I'd heard some harsh things about his work on Smash, but hadn't prepared myself for this (I believe Glenn Kenny described him performing like he was about to audition for "I Was a Teenage Bane", though at the very least a more meathead version of a Leo Fitzpatrick character from a Larry Clark movie). AJ seems so monstrous and I found it impossible to take away anything about his character or his relationship to Avery.
.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:55 pm

Re: my being a Cianfrance booster, this is the first film of his that I've enjoyed.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#19 Post by warren oates » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:33 am

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
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If we are going to talking about the film in regards to the idea that it is about the sins of the father being passed down to the son, I don't see it in Cooper's storyline at all. I didn't get much out of Avery's relationship with his father besides general support, and his own bond with his infant son AJ is mostly ignored except for a throwaway line about having a hard time being in the house with the baby after the shooting. I took that to mean that he's burdened by the thought of his boy AJ being so close in age to baby Jason and what it would be like to grow up fatherless, but I wasn't sure what else to take away from that line, unless it's merely irony that he has little to do with AJ years later. Am I supposed to believe he distances himself from his infant son because he feels guilt over what happened or the absence of any interaction between him and his son is supposed to show how inattentive he is as a father? I never understood who Avery's character was supposed to be outside of a few tidbits like his moral decency and ability to navigate the politics of the local government. Third act revelations regarding his failed marriage and fatherly neglect struck me as being curveballs to ratchet up tension that hadn't been established beforehand.
What if the formulation is less, say, "the sins of the fathers" then "the ways we do/don't or can/can't become our fathers in spite of or because of our best efforts to avoid their mistakes."
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While we do get to see Avery's father support him in a crisis, it's not exactly an exchange that's free of ambivalence for either one of them. We see that his father has long pressured him to enter into politics, to not waste his law degree (which he likely earned at least in part to please/placate his father) working on the street as a cop. Avery's only even considering becoming a whistle-blower not so much because it's the morally right thing to do but also because he's unable to be a cop anymore except behind a desk. And because he'd have to wait his turn in line to earn a more prestigious position as a detective. Whether he wants to admit it to himself or not, it's Avery's ruthless ambition and Machiavellian deal-making skills that allow him to turn his post-injury desk job and it's exposure to departmental corruption into a net plus. And those are the very qualities you can feel him resisting in his own father.

Avery's forever mixed feelings about his own son seem as much about his fear of his responsibility to not fuck him up while raising him as his guilt about Luke's now fatherless son or anything else. So consciously or not, Avery ends up pretty much not raising him for a huge part of A.J.'s life, abdicating that responsibility until it's forced back on him by his ex-wife.

Avery's son A.J. is, indeed, annoying. He's the kind of full-on narcissistic douchebag dropout that you'd have to be if you desperately wanted to avoid becoming the successful, popular, conventionally ambitious high-achieving preppie that you can imagine Avery was growing up. Still, even in the midst of his ruthless unambition, A.J. can't avoid embracing some of the gifts his father seems to have handed down to him. And I'm not talking about just wealth or his sense of entitlement (which also do serve to get him in perhaps more trouble). It's also about his impulse to reach out, to be incredibly political and social, to become popular in his own right despite being the new kid in town, to work each of his high school "friends" for favors like a glad-handing politico (but with faux gangsta hand daps instead), and to not take no for an answer when he wants something. If A.J. weren't so much like his father in his flailing attempt to be completely different, there'd be no third act to this movie.

And the same goes for Jason who, like mfunk wrote above, has an emptiness in him that no amount of good rearing can fill. Much like his father Luke's fundamental restlessness, which struck me as a truer motivation for his robbery streak than any more noble ideas about being a good provider for his son.

Still, in the end it's possible for both Avery and Jason to break free to some degree of their father's existential hand-me-downs. And it's the ways in which each of them do this that defines their character.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#20 Post by rs98762001 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:04 pm

Much as I thought the film was an overblown and super-pretentious mess, I actually need to defend Emory Cohen's performance. I thought he was brilliant. He captured perfectly the smug, entitled rich kid who's always been given everything on a plate, and always had Dad to bail him out to ensure he never has to deal with the consequences of his actions. Having gone to USC (aka University of Spoiled Children) I knew plenty of them, and it was amusing to me just how well Cohen nailed them. It was especially true in his interactions with Gosling's kid (another excellent performance)- the way he was basically using him for drugs, yet sort of adopting him in a slumming way as his lower-class buddy, only to ignore him as soon as he poses a threat or loses his usefulness. I thought the kids' interaction was far more interesting and honest than anything else in the film, and it was a shame that their characters' fates were ultimately shoehorned into Cinafrance's silly and schematic story.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#21 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:44 pm

Again, my beef is not so much how the character AJ is written and his interactions with Jason and the rest of the student population (that I all found believable), but the mannerisms and ticks used by Cohen that I found distracting.

Another question did come up earlier that I wondered about though:
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It's not unimaginable, but I did wonder about the reveal in the police station where Cooper finds out Jason is Luke's son. Would the boy really have his father's last name of Glanton? It seemed more likely he'd have had his mother's or adoptive father's last name by this point in his life. Would Romina have given her son his father's last name if she never expected him to be in the picture?

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#22 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:29 pm

That's a really solid point, Wagstaff. Definitely a plot hole.

Unless,
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Upon Gosling's character's death, the child is given his last name in memorial. I don't see that as being outside of the realm of possibility.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#23 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:31 pm

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My big reason for finding that tough to chew is Romina's distraught reaction at the dinner table when being asked by Jason about his father. They establish that the son doesn't even know Gosling's name until he pries it from the stepfather in the next scene. The notion of that scene makes a bit more sense (and resonates better) if we were to presume he hadn't known the last name all along.

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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#24 Post by warren oates » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:08 pm

This whole business about Jason's official birth certificate surname seems like barking up the wrong tree.
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Maybe mfunk is right. Or perhaps Romina did it when he was born, to give her son some fleeting connection to a father she'd probably expected never to see again. People do impulsive and emotional things when they are naming a child and they don't usually take the time to undo them later, once the name has stuck. And anyway, didn't they lie to him about how his father died young, something about a car/bike accident?

Really, if you want to get nitpicky about plot holes, I'd start with how, even though the film's set a few years ago, Schenectady seems to have the last small neighborhood pharmacy in New York State that 1) actually stocks Oxycontin, 2) keeps it on an open shelf where anyone can grab it, and 3) doesn't have a security camera. Furthermore, it seems like the local cops and the state police believe whatever story Avery tells them between the film's two final scenes and so they don't even bother to, say, run the fingerprints from his car which would pretty quickly have drawn a match with Jason who was already in the local and state crime database, given that he was processed and tried earlier, whereas A.J. was not.
I agree that the film has some plot holes but they don't bother me nearly as much as they might because the characters are so convincingly wrought.

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HistoryProf
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Re: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

#25 Post by HistoryProf » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:07 pm

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
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What really knocked me out of the picture in the third act and ultimately ruined the film for me was the casting of Emory Cohen as AJ; I can't remember the last time I watched a movie in which I felt like a performer was so horribly miscast, who in every way imaginable - voice, mannerisms, etc - seemed wholly inappropriate for the character as written. His first scene with teenage Jason in the cafeteria had an inappropriate Neanderthal quality, so much so that my memory of the scene is the two actors grunting at each other across the table. I'd heard some harsh things about his work on Smash, but hadn't prepared myself for this (I believe Glenn Kenny described him performing like he was about to audition for "I Was a Teenage Bane", though at the very least a more meathead version of a Leo Fitzpatrick character from a Larry Clark movie). AJ seems so monstrous and I found it impossible to take away anything about his character or his relationship to Avery.
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I found this to be the film's biggest flaw as well. In addition to the weird small town pharmacy that apparently still thought it was 1977, AJ was just so completely miscast it was difficult to believe he was really Avery's son, never mind the weird Jersey Shore persona he adopted. Perhaps it's because everyone else is so good that he just stuck out like a sore thumb, but in retrospect his character was in large part responsible for me checking my watch with 30 minutes still to go.

I do like LQ's point about how Gosling's character permeates nearly every scene in the film...the first act truly is a masterpiece. I still hold that the 2nd act is just too flimsy to connect it with the finale, however, and that's a real shame. I really liked the film, but I was left wishing some better choices were made in the editing room to tighten it up and address the plot holes in the 3rd act. It could have been truly great, but as it stands, I think it settles for pretty damned good.

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