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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Silver Linings Playbook

SLP posterThe Weinstein Co. (2012) 122 min. R

Director: David O. Russell

Screenplay: David O. Russell; based on The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi; Editing: Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers

Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

Costumes: Mark Bridges

Score: Danny Elfman

Stars: Bradley Cooper (Pat Solitano), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany Maxwell), Robert De Niro (Pat Sr.), Jacki Weaver (Dolores), Chris Tucker (Danny), John Ortiz (Ronnie), Julia Stiles (Veronica), Anupam Kher (Dr. Patel), Brea Bee (Nikki)

If laughter is the best medicine, then Silver Linings Playbook is the panacea for what’s been ailing kitschy romantic comedy of late. A first for him as far as I‘m aware, director David O. Russell’s foray into untried turf actually returns him to the darker, more acerbic edge of such earlier comedies as I Heart Huckabees and Spanking the Monkey. Likewise populated by existential oddballs and emotionally troubled outsiders, Russell, who usually writes his own scenarios, has translated Matthew Quick’s novel into a non-conformist romantic comedy about non-conformity. By which I mean it marches to its own drummer rather than trying to fit itself into the pat conventions of the genre. This movie is  a square peg in a round hole. Continue reading