Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines (Rhoades)

“The Place Beyond the Pines”
Holds Generational Secrets

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Schenectady, New York, gets its name from an old Mohawk word meaning “the place beyond the pines.” And since the new Ryan Gosling - Bradley Cooper film is set in that faraway city, the title is (you guessed it) “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
Yet, it has other subtle connotations, for this crime drama looks at a famous motorcycle stuntman (Gosling) who quits his job to be near the son he never knew he had. This leads to a secret life as a bank robber. And a shoot-out with a cop (Cooper).
Now playing at Tropic Cinema, “The Place Beyond the Pines” was directed by Derek Cianfrance. A couple of years ago, he got many kudos for his “Blue Valentine,” a romantic drama also starring Ryan Gosling.
Gosling helped him come up with this story. As the director tells it, “I was at his agent’s house and we were talking and I was asking, ‘What haven’t you done?’ He said, ‘Well, I’ve always wanted to rob a bank, but I’m too scared of jail.’ I said, ‘Oh really, I’m writing a movie about a guy who robs banks. How would you do it if you could do it?’ He says, ‘I’d do it on a motorcycle, because I could go in with a helmet and no one would know who I was. Motorcycles are fast so I could get away, and they’re agile. I would go have a U-Haul truck parked about four blocks away. I’d bring it to the back of the U-Haul and then drive away in the U-Haul, because no one would be looking for the truck. They’d be looking for a motorcycle.’ I said, ‘That’s crazy. That’s just what I’ve written in the script.’”
So here we have a story about Luke Glanton (Gosling), a former motorcyclist trying to do right by his son with Romina (Eva Mendes) by doing wrong with his bank robber buddy Robin (Ben Mendelsohn).
The film is divided into two parts: The confrontation between Luke and the cop. The relationship between Luke’s son Jason (Dane DeHaan) and the cop’s son AJ (Emory Cohen). Bridging the two stories is the ambitious cop, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).
As for getting the bank robbery details right, Derek Cianfrance got lucky. “All of a sudden there’s a knock on the door and two police officers showed up with this kid ... They were like, ‘This is so and so, he spent nine years in jail. Robbed 15 banks in Schenectady.’ It was such a gift to meet him like it was a gift to meet the cops that were hunting him down. That’s what I’m trying to do with my movies is just tell human stories that respect everybody.”
Cianfrance continues, “What he said is movies always get it wrong. Bank robbers are so clean and perfect in movies but in real life they are messy. I learned about how he felt. The anxiety he felt when he walked into a bank. The desperation that he felt. The desperation he felt that led him into the bank.”
“The Place Beyond the Pines” holds secrets -- of mistakes made, of generational conflicts, of fathers and sons.

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