The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond The Pines posterFocus Features (2013) 140 min. R

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Screenplay: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio & Darius Marder

Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt

Editing: Jim Helton & Ron Patane

Production Design: Inbal Weinberg; Set Decoration: Jasmine E. Ballou

Costumes: Erin Benach; Score: Mike Patton

Stars: Ryan Gosling (Luke Glanton), Bradley Cooper (Avery Cross), Eva Mendes (Romina), Dane DeHaan (Jason), Emory Cohen (A.J.), Ben Mendelsohn (Robin), Ray Liotta (Deluca), Rose Byrne (Jennifer), Mahershala Ali (Kofi), Bruce Greenwood (Bill Killcullen), Harris Yulin (Al Cross)

Director Derek Cianfrance’s expansive examination of the father-son conflict as it plays out across two generations in the intersecting lives of a cop and a robber, sounds promising but turns out to be more ambitious than illuminating. Handsomely photographed by Sean Bobbitt, there are clear elements of classic Greek tragedy in this simple, modern dress drama strongly tempered by the hand of fate and pre-destiny. Which may explain why the unusual three-act structure that’s been applied by Cianfrance, along with co-screenwriters Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, seems to more legitimately belong to the theater than the screen. Continue reading

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Side Effects

Side Effects posterEndgame Ent./Open Road (2013) 106 min. R

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns

Cinematography: Peter Andrews

Editing: Mary Ann Bernard

Production Design: Howard Cummings; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo

Costumes: Susan Lyall

Score: Thomas Newman

Stars: Jude Law (Dr. Jonathan Banks), Rooney Mara (Emily Taylor), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Victoria Siebert), Channing Tatum (Martin Taylor), Vinessa Shaw (Dierdre Banks), Ann Dowd (Martin’s Mother) 

The buzz around Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh’s latest, centered on its being announced as his last movie before leaving the industry to answer the call of the higher arts. It was an ingenious marketing gimmick. Advertising Side Effects as his endgame raised its appraisal value exponentially. Viewers were made to feel as though this were their final chance to seek out a Soderbergh film on the big screen, at least until his earlier work is re-released in 3D. The canny director is already exercising the most salient aspect of selling art, by exploiting the fact that a master’s work always increases in value after he passes. Soderbergh is no fool; like his onscreen characters he knows how to manipulate the market. Continue reading