May 8th, 2013

So last night (with much anticipation) I headed out to see The Place Beyond the Pines.   This has an impressive cast with Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta.
Oh Roger, where are you to provide some insight into this film and save me some money?!  Roger on the other hand sometimes relished writing about movies that wasted his time and would take great pains to ensure that the film makers felt his wrath for having stole a couple hours of his life that he will never get back.   In this instance it was closer to 2.5 hours.
What an unmitigated mess this movie is.  It is all over the place with themes that start, stop and others utterly abandoned.    What starts out as a story focusing on the Gosling character who is a stunt motorcycle driver in a travelling circus (so they even have these anymore?) who finds out that he is a new father and feels obligated to provide for his child and woman.   She never told him about the son, and has a boyfriend who has taken her in and her Mother.   She is trying to put her life together.   He soon realizes that working minimum wage isn’t going to cut it for coughing up dough for baby stuff.   He starts robbing banks and taking off on his motorbike.   Bradley Cooper is a cop that is a judge’s son who went to law school but decided to work the street.   He ultimately chases Gosling down from a botched bank attempt and there is an issue here taken.
Now fast forward just a little and there is a Serpico like storyline with Bradley in the midst of a police corruption issue.   We know this because he was inexplicably asked to be part of a shakedown of Eva Mendes.   This gives very little away and was predictable.   So much of this was predictable and eventually went WAY beyond suspending your movie belief.   So one disjointed and presumably unrelated theme jumps over into another.   Then we fast forward 15 years.  15 years!!   Bradley who looked freshly clean shaven, more than I have ever seen him, kind of looks aged, while other characters also do too.   The Serpico corruption issue seems to have resolved itself, but to what end?   It dangles on the screen as an unfulfilled issue that is brought out in the light and left to rot.
The movies carries on into the surreal as we have a twist that not many could anticipate, but once you are there, you know exactly where it is going.   Yes, that sentence is confusing as read – but it will make sense should you choose to see this mess.   Without giving anything else away, the ending couldn’t be less satisfying.   If there was a Magnolia moment for a movie – it should have come here.   It didn’t.  As the credits roll this becomes the WTF review moment with head scratching and no idea about what I had just finished seeing.    I turned to my date.  We looked at each other and laughed with the exact same stunned look on our faces and a reaction of time lost in a theatre.   Here’s a movie on cheap Tuesday in Waterloo that had us pay $12 together.   The small popcorn and drink were $11.18 and made a LOT more sense than the movie.
I can see now why this movie although filmed before Gangster Squad was not released until after Silver Linings Playbook.  Bradley Cooper has garnered some good buzz and respect and they decide to throw this out after that.  Sadly the Hangover III will arrive and wipe out all the good will for Bradley who has shown that he can, in fact, act.   And Ryan Gosling, buddy, you are one of the best young actors in the business.  You best find material that is worthy of you and your talents.   Your agent needs to make some better suggestions for you after Gangster Squad and this.   Finally, there was a review that suggested that this was Eva Mendes’ best work in her career.   If it was, then this is a very low water mark for excellence.   There is not a stretch performance here.
Richard Roeper, you are no Roger Ebert.  I will take this as a sign that you and I should not be commiserating on films together.   One strike.   I miss Roger.

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