First Man

When I first heard about First Man, I didn’t realize it was a biopic on Neil Armstrong. I thought it was just a space movie with cool visuals, and would be about the first man on Mars or something like that.

The poster is just really sexy like that.

Despite not knowing the real topic, I knew I was really excited. Damien Chazelle has yet to disappoint, with his first two big breaks being, well, big breaks. Whiplash was breath of fresh abuse, and La La Land is goddamn La La Land, my favorite movie of that year.

So yeah, let’s try a real person story about a space man!

Group
A bunch of men that totally want to break out into dance, but can’t in this movie.

In the 1960’s, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) became an Astronaut for the NASA program. He was already a test pilot for other companies as an engineer, not a military man, and he needed to get a new start. His daughter, Karen, had died when she was two, of some cancer. That sucks. That sucks a lot. He needed to get away.

Not just from the fact that his daughter died. But other friends as well. When doing science in the sky, and reaching the upper parts of the atmosphere, things can go wrong. They HAVE gone wrong for Armstrong, but he generally keeps a clear head on these sorts of things and lucks his way into not dying.

Is he afraid of dying? Is he ready to die? Is he afraid if he gets too close to people, he will become a wreck should they die in an accident? His wife (Claire Foy) loves him, and is helping raise their family, and is fully aware of the many risks of space travel. But she supports him, even when he is hard to reach. Physically, and emotionally.

And of course, eventually, Armstrong does some pretty impressive historical stuff.

Also starring a whole lot of white people. Most of them playing real white people too, I assume! Played by Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Ciarán Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Shea Whigham, Olivia Hamilton, and Corey Stoll playing the Buzz Aldrin.

Love
I assume this dance is not my tempo.

Chazelle started us out on his film trajectory by giving us people who wanted to achieve stardom at all costs. The next film also involved achieving stardom, but in a city full of stars, people who already made their life successful. And now, in this film, we still have that achievement desire behind the scenes, but instead of reaching a city of stars, it is a whole sky full of stars. An interesting path and one that is keeping Chazelle fresh by clearly trying very different things.

The most interesting aspect of this movie, to me, is that it isn’t really about the moon landing. It is called First Man. Why? Because it is about the First Man on the moon, not the successful events, just the person himself. Neil. Armstrong.

That might sound like a normal biographic movie, but I assure you, this one feels different. We see things from his point of view and mindset, without having to actually go into first person point of view. It is easy to feel the claustrophobic nature of the capsules. Of viewing the edge of space for the first time. To walking on the moon, to losing a child or friend, to having to make life saving decisions despite not knowing the right answer.

It is so damn personal and at the same time it is hard to connect to him. Armstrong comes across a very distant person, dealing with a lot on the inside and less likely to talk about his feelings or actually deal with the reality his job is creating. He is a humble person and a quiet person, not looking for fame, but looking for something else hard to pinpoint.

First Man is a great film, with terrific acting, and is likely to be a lock for several nominations, especially in the sound mixing areas this upcoming Oscars.

3 out of 4.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner is often considered one of the best science fiction movies ever created, and it came out in the 1980’s. Oh well, back then we had a lot of classic films that people love forever, so what do I know.

I didn’t see it until over a year ago, mostly because I knew that this sequel, Blade Runner 2049 was coming out, and I wanted to make sure I got it. Well, I knew why Blade Runner was considered a great film, but not my cup of tea. I was a bit excited about Blade Runner 2049 as well, because of the director only. After many great films like Sicario, Prisoners, Enemy, and Arrival (one of my top films of 2016), I would watch anything that Denis Villeneuve touches.

So why did I wait so long? I don’t know, because I suck. But I did wait so long, and then it got nominated for boatload at the Oscars. I did watch it before the ceremony, and wrote this review, but wanted to save it for my theme week, where I finally reviewed things I should have definitely reviewed in 2017.

Future
In the future, we will have robots that look like Ryan Gosling!

K (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner, not an agent who works for the Men In Black, but I can see why you get them confused. K is a replicant, and he knows he is a replicant, and his job as a Blade Runner is to find older models of replicants. He has to hunt them down, sometimes to kill them, sometimes just to bring them in. I have already almost hit my quota of saying the word replicant!

On a mission, K finds the remains of a replicant child. Like, not one that was created, but one that was birthed out. People didn’t know that replicants could birth replicant children. This is a game changer. Now K is told by his boss (Robin Wright) to find the baby and hide the truth, b ecause if this gets out, people will start warring again.

Of course with a secret this big, different sides are going to come together after this knowledge. Some toe hide it, some to let it out to the public, some to steal the technology for their own nefarious slave making purposes.

And K is starting to question what it means to be a replicant. He wonders if he can deny orders. I mean, he is called a replicant, not a repliCAN, so you’d think he would accept his limitations.

Also starring Ana de Armas, Barkhad Abdi, Carla Juri, Dave Bautista, Edward James Olmos, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Lennie James, Mackenzie Davis, and Sylvia Hoeks.

Brown
“Wanna know why they call this place the Brown Town?…Racism.”

I said it before and I will say it again. Tron is not a good movie. Tron: Legacy is definitely not a good movie. Avatar obviously wasn’t a good movie. But they were all very pretty movies (for their time). Some both pleasing to look at and to listen to, while offering mostly shitty plots and maybe shitty acting.

Blade Runner 2049 has a shit plot. It is long, not too exciting, not as deep as its predecessor, and a bit convoluted for my tastes. But it is really pretty to look at.

It is visually stunning. Its cinematography is gorgeous. Its choices were so well thought out and given a loving touch that it is hard to look away. Well, it would be if I ever felt engaged. Because the acting was poor, the twists were mostly expected, and it doesn’t feel incredibly original. But it was still pretty to look at.

I don’t really understand how this made best of the year lists for people, maybe they were just blinded by the flashy lights and visuals, or riding the hype of one of their favorite films over the last few decades. But Blade Runner 2049 is all flash, no substance, and an incredible waste of my time.

1 out of 4.

Song to Song

I have put off watching Song to Song as much as possible. At this point in my career, I am more likely to check out the director before watching an unknown movie for only one reason. To see if Terrence Malick was secretly the director.

Because if he is, I need to go into the movie with a completely different mindset than literally any other film.

I need to have hawk eyes to figure out just what the main plot of the film is going to be, especially when the narrators decide to switch on me, or even be from characters I never paid attention to.

No one else makes me waste my time like Malick. And I just need to know before seeing if a movie how mad I will be five minutes into it.

Lighs
Yeah, get that bitch some Christmas lights…

What do Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, Val Kimer, and Bérénice Marlohe have in common?

They are all in this series of maybe related scenes “film,” and have been tricked into working with Malick!

Dynamic
Look at all these dynamic camera shots!

2017 was a year of change for me. I gave up watching the Sharknado movies, because heck, they didn’t need my review saying they were shit on top of the pile of reviews saying they were shit, as it did nothing. Everyone agreed they were shit and I realized I can stop. I also gave up on the Transformers films, because fool me four times, then fuck me over.

I think…I think I might have to do it for Terrence Malick films. Which is a significant director still in the film community, so it is not something that I can say lightly. Or maybe I will never see them in theaters again, and only at home…where I can distract myself with my phone.

At this point when it comes to directors, I am still willing to watch things that Luc Besson has dealt with, even if I generally hate it all, whereas I feel like I will just burn into painful flames if I have to watch a complete Malick film.

They are all now just feeling the same at this point. I can’t imagine saying new stuff for the next film, I didn’t even really say new stuff for this film.

Song to Song is just home made movie trash.

0 out of 4.

La La Land

La La Land gets the honor of most anticipated film of 2016. Yes, it even beats Doctor Strange, which I have been waiting for years.

I was told Damien Chazelle (who just gave us Whiplash), plus musical, plus two wonderful stars and I knew I just had to see it. And then it got pushed back! Several times, to the wonderful Oscar seasons, meaning more waiting and more desire.

The good review hype just made my train go even stronger. If anything, by the time I saw it, I was disappointed it wasn’t a four hour long movie.

And now that I have seen it, my hype has immediately switched to next years Christmas release of The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman.

Dance Dance
I just really like dancing and musicals, get over it.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a great pianist, lover of jazz, and a dreamer. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, not successful, former writer kind of, and hey, a dreamer.

So of course they meet in one warm winter, LA evening and things go, well, they don’t go. But then they meet again later and something starts to flicker on between them. Romance, hopes, dreams. And hey, a song and dance number.

Sebastian wants to open up his own jazz club, at a historic location, to bring the genre back to the public, but he also might sell out his skills to make money in the mean time with an old (poppy) friend (John Legend). Mia is tired of going to auditions against girls prettier and more experienced than her, getting her no where, so she puts more of her focus towards creating a play that she can star in herself, to get her name out.

And then there is romance, hopes, and more romance.

But love can’t be the only thing in a relationship. Can they even last a year with their goals, or more?

Also featuring Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, and Finn Wittrock.

Dance
The only pictures from this movie involve dancing, and hey, even they are getting over it now.

This has been a very hard review to write. First off, I didn’t really want to watch it until I could listen to the soundtrack in its entirety, and thankfully that came out December 9th. The soundtrack isn’t actually that long, and quite a few songs are instrumental only. But the music is something special and for most of the soundtrack, just sitting down and hearing the music is a wonderful thing. Jazz heavily influences the soundtrack, which should not come to a surprise given the director’s previous film and the subject matter. Let’s start at the beginning.

The opening song is what appears to be one long shot, for minutes, involving dozens of extras, cars, and hijacking the LA Freeway at some point for presumably days to practice and get it all right. It gets you in the mood and sets you up. The second song, a bit stranger, but ends on a strong note and really gets the message going. And those two songs are our “classic” musical songs, for the most part. They ooze out nostalgia from the 1940’s and 50’s, with dancing, color and more.

This does continue into A Lovely Night, which gives a modern sarcastic feel to it all, finally including our main two leads fully, and a huge (once again long take) dance number. It is truly a wonder to watch and it made me annoyed that I was in a theater and couldn’t just rewind and see it again and again.

Eventually we get to the main theme of City of Stars, which is hauntingly beautiful and won’t annoy you the many times it comes up, humming, singing or otherwise. City of Stars and The Fools Who Dream are the emotional pinnacle points of the film and are reasons why this film is having so much buzz.

La La Land is about acting, dreamers, with a shit ton of nostalgia and classic feel. I ignored the fact that I saw cell phones early on and assumed it was set in the 50’s until the Prius joke brought me back down from my cloud. La La Land is an experience that deserves the big screen, deserves multiple viewings and will be a musical staple for some time to come. The actors relationship feels real, their love and their arguments. This is the third time Gosling/Stone have been together in a film, after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad (which was a travesty).

Go see one of the best films of the year. The hype is real. Go dream or go home.

4 out of 4.

The Nice Guys

Nice guys have gotten a lot of bad press lately. And that is because of the “nice guys” trying to take advantage of women by befriending them and expecting sex and berating them and being not nice people. So calling someone a nice guy is a pretty big insult.

And The Nice Guys movie happens to be coming out the same day as The Angry Bird Movie, what a whirlwind of emotions!

Fun fact, if you look at the last names of the leads of this film, you will realize that they are also, in fact, birds, making this seem like something more than a coincidence.

stall
A gosling is a baby goose, for those uninformed shitters out there!

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a private eye, raising his daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), alone. He mostly works sex jobs and things involving the porn industry, and screwing over old ladies into getting paid for working cases. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired muscle, paid to beat up stalkers, people messing with young women or daughters, just creeps in general.

And life is good for them both in the late 1970’s. That is until Healy is paid to beat up March, for “stalking” some chick named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). Except March wasn’t even looking for Amelia. He was paid to find Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), a porn star who died a few days earlier, but whose aunt swore she saw her later.

Everything seemed to be going great after the beat down, until Healy headed back home and found two thugs (Beau Knapp, Keith David) trying to kill him. They too are looking for Amelia, whom Healy hasn’t seen in quite a few days. Something bigger is going on with this girl, and if he wants to feel safe at his home, he has to find her. So he might as well get some help. And he only knows why investigator who has any sort of luck finding her. You know it.

And then some shit goes down.

Also starring Kim Basinger, Yaya DaCosta, Matt Bomer, Jack Kilmer, Ty Simpkins, and Hannibal Buress as a giant killer bee.

stare
Don’t stare. I did just fucking say a giant killer bee.

Ever here of this guy Shane Black? He actually wrote/directed Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, while also writing a bunch of Lethal Weapon movies and more action things. He loves action, and now he has written The Nice Guys, which has been in development hell. Him and his buddy, Joel Silver, a producer, have been just trying to write and rewrite it for years, and eventually they got the actors involved and made it as quick as they could.

And to Mr. Black and Mr. Silver, I would like to say, hey, thanks for keeping up the faith.

The Nice Guys was a hilarious movie. Gosling and Crowe have an incredible chemistry despite their age differences and in general very different film history. The comedy and timing between them as practically perfect. And even better than their characters had big flaws, not just strange stereotypes. After watching them in this film, I practically demanded a sequel, but the theater worker claimed he had no control over that.

The only other person worth noting is Angourie Rice, who plays the daughter, and was in the very terrible Walking With Dinosaurs. She was basically a third member of their group and really tied the film together. That also means that that for the most part, the rest of the cast weren’t really notable. And there are some decent names. Bomer felt robotic, Basinger/DaCosta didn’t feel natural, and Qualley as Amelia was forgettable.

A great action comedy for the leads and one that I hope spawns a future movie. It is still a film worth watching in theaters, but equally a good idea to watch with a group of friends at 3 am on a Saturday morning.

3 out of 4.

The Big Short

Did you see Margin Call? No? Well, it had a pretty big cast of actors! I mean, Stanley Tucci was in it, so you should see it. That is why I wanted to watch all the Hunger Games movies, but he only had one damn scene in the last one, and it wasn’t even good.

I ended up really enjoying it and found it informative. I didn’t think I was an expert on the financial collapse that America had experienced, but I got the vibe behind it all and understood that something like that could happen.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect more movies about the collapse. Then The Big Short came along. And I didn’t know what to expect. But here is a hint.

Anchorman. Anchorman 2. The Other Guys. Talladega Nights. Step Brothers. Sure, all of these have Will Ferrell in common, but they are also directed by Adam McKay.

Sure, he has directed some TV shows and shorts and random things, but that list was literally every movie he has ever directed. Up til The Big Short. Can a guy who is BFF’s with Ferrell, make a movie serious enough about the economic collapse, easy to understand, and good, without any Ferrell at all?

The Gos
Don’t worry, we have mature Gosling to make the women and men swoon instead.

Back to the crisis. Our story starts in 2005, with one man. Michael Burry (Christian Bale). He is a socially awkward guy, with a fake eye. He had a wealthy inheritance, so he took it to wall street to make his own small investment firm. And you know what he wants to put over a billion of dollars? Into the mortgage market.

Mortgages are safe, everyone pays them, and only people who can pay them end up getting them. That idea has made bankers rich since the 1970s, thanks to something called Mortgage Backed Securities, MBS. The banks loan out hundreds of mortgages in one lump sum to many homes, and when they are that big, they can make some sweet interest and that gets them rich. More or less. But banks got greedy. They started renting to riskier and riskier people. So the chance of these large funds crashing, creating very bad scenarios, is actually getting higher but no one seems to notice.

Except for Burry. He wants to “short” the MBS funds. More or less, that means he is betting against them. He is loaning money to banks, like Goldman Sachs, and paying a monthly premium on it. He is letting them have that money, until these MBS’s break and he will get his money back multiplied many times over. He is the first guy to do something like this and most people think he is insane, but he looked at the numbers.

But there were more players. Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is our narrator, and actually works for Deutsche Bank. He finds out about the Burry deal and tries to get more people to follow suit, believing in him and working to get some profit on the side as well. He ends up talking to Mark Baum (Steve Carell), operator of a hedge fund, who crusades against all the bull shit on wall street, and sets out to find just how corrupt this whole thing is.

Also, Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), two Denver boys who grew their own money to 30 million, who see this as an opportunity to finally make it to the big leagues.

We have a ton of people in this movie, including Marisa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Adepero Oduye, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall, Jeffry Griffin, Max Greenfield, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain.

Drum
The man who drums at his desk and doesn’t wear a suit, predicted the downfall of American economy.
This is why I choose to wear shorts as well.

I honestly didn’t think much about this movie before seeing it. I saw the trailer once before Steve Jobs, was intrigued by the cast, but then forgot about it. And hey, I like some of McKay’s films a lot. I just didn’t have any faith with this topic.

Well, fuck me, I was wrong, and this movie was really fucking good. Star to finish, it captivated me about wall street fucking over America.

The acting was on point from all points, especially with Carrell and Bale as power houses. Pitt was very subtle in this film, similar to his role in 12 Years A Slave. But even better about these roles is that no single person was really the main character. The main character was the housing bubble and banks lying to America.

Were these people bad for profiting off the downfall of the World Economy? Sure, kind of. That is morally grey. Because it shows that some of them tried to tell everyone the problem with the numbers, tried to do something about the collusion, but were laughed right in their faces. Even if they wanted to warn everyone, no one would listen because the vast majority of people didn’t understand how any of it worked and were lied too constantly.

This movie made me ANGRY. I felt rage at what was going on, only eight years ago. I am mad that nothing has really changed. I am mad that no one got punished for it and that so many people got fucked over. I am mad that this movie is also a comedy, and that I gained so much amusement at something that ended up being so terrible.

And that is what a great movie can do. It can make you feel things. The Big Short is funny and anger inducing, while also taking a very complicated subject and making one feel like they understand it. I feel like I totally understand everything that happened now and it was something I never really thought about before. The Big Short is good enough that I feel like I could watch it every few months and still enjoy it and still feel those same emotions.

The Big Short wants me to almost get political and start shouting at rich people. One of the years best.

4 out of 4.

Only God Forgives

Trying to watch all of the Ryan Gosling movies has taken me down some strange twist and turns. Thankfully, most of them are older movies outside of my range, so I don’t have to review them. But if you saw my review of All Good Things, then you know there is some fucked up shit out there.

Using fucked up is an over exaggeration for that movie. Because then I watched Only God Forgives, written and directed by the same guy who directed Drive. Which was an artsy movie, interesting, violence heavy, but overall pretty fantastic. Even compared to Drive, Only God Forgives is truly the most fucked up of his entire career.

Fucked is use in a different way from the way I use it for Lars and the Real Girl.

Goslings
“Well howdy there pilgrim…”
Julian (Gosling) is your average American. He doesn’t say much. He lives in Thailand. He runs a boxing arena that is a front for a big drug smuggling operation. Yep. Average American indeed. His brother Billy (Tom Burke) is a big dick though. Rapes an underage prostitute. Gets arrested.

Lieutenant Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), aka the Angel of Vengeance, arrives on the scene and lets the father beat Billy to death for the deed. Shit, son. Not only that, he then cuts off the arms of the father, for letting his daughter in prostitution in the first place! At least he is just?

Julian was going to fuck the dad up, but hey, he lost his arms already, and Billy had it coming. It didn’t stop Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) from traveling to Thailand to identify the body. You know, Julian’s mom. They have a strange relationship, he is surprised to see her. She wants blood. He doesn’t care. She wants to take out the Angel of Vengeance. He doesn’t care.

Then a lot more fucked up shit happens then the movie ends.

Samurai
Have sword, will slash.
Looking up random stuff about the film, I found out that the director wanted to make a more modern and set in Asia cowboy movie. Or something. Which I can kind of see. I guess Gosling is the cowboy in a dangerous land(Thailand, not the wild west). Kind of a lone ranger. Doesn’t speak much. Fights a lot. Maybe crooked.

Whatever. The cowboy elements are there.

But the film could also be something about mysticism in Asia. Or something about anger and violence he felt when his second daughter was being born.

Really, it could be anything. This is all stuff the director said, so it seems to be all over the place.

Gosling’s character only speaks 22 lines of film. No one really talks a lot. But we do get some karaoke scenes, so we get singing as well! It is another visual heavy picture, with strange dark colors, set in the seedy parts of town. The whole thing seems to be set during the night as well. Daytime is for rookies. Thailand scares me cause of shit like this, and The Hangover Part II.

It is really hard to talk about this movie, so I kind of just want to shut up now. I don’t even know what to think anymore. Somebody hold me.

2 out of 4.

All Good Things

My quest to watch all the Ryan Gosling movies has lead me down interesting paths. It turns out he has been in multiple thriller / almost horror films, but none of them are any sort of standard slasher film. Stay ended up just being strange the entire time, with Gosling as a minor character. But with All Good Things, it is a mystery/thriller, with Gosling at the helm! And he maybe kills someone!

But no. It is still weird and different.

Gosling Is Old
This is the best part of the movie. Gosling as an old man in lady clothes.

All Good Things is based on a true story, kind of. It is based on a guy named Robert Dunst. In fact, it is based on the most famous unsolved murder case in NYC history. But is it interesting?

David Marks (Gosling, aka Robert Dunst, but the name was changed?) is a real estate guy. Making dat money. He didn’t want to though. So he found Katie (Kirsten Dunst) and married all up in her. His dad (Frank Langella) didn’t approve of it.

Well, they move away to Vermont, open up a nice health food store, but still take in money from the family business to subsidize it all. Either way, times are tough, eventually he has to go back to NYC to join the job, make real money. He has to do some shady shit though, causing his mood to change, and become a lot more angry and bitter of a man.

But Katie stands by her man. And eventually dies. But was it David? WAS IT?

Hey, Kristen Wiig is running around. ALSO. There is a clean shaven Nick Offerman, but I can’t find good proof of it on the internet. But it is mindblowing. My second favorite part after the first picture.

Offerman
Just, imagine him with even less stubble and even more humility.

Whew. What a story. Wait, no. I mean, what a bore-y. I am bored. It is all sorts of boring.

Another moment where acting is pretty darn fine and consistent, but no one cares. Shit, it was hard enough to keep up with the story, having different court room procedures interrupt the story, making it all feel out of order. But the only reason why I know how it ends is thanks to the words they threw at the ending, to tell me where the characters are today.

Whether they are still dead and not sure who killed it, or hiding in drag, or what.

I guess part of the problem with doing a movie about an unsolved case, is not actually knowing what happened. Like the rest of the world. So it is a bunch of bullshit anyways.

Apparently Robert Durst liked the movie? That’s fine. Don’t care. Sucks to be him if he didn’t do it and everyone assumes he did though. Just. Just no.

1 out of 4.

Blue Valentine

Why did I watch Blue Valentine?

Well for one, I need to see all the Ryan Gosling movies. I am teaching labs in the fall that will be 95% women and I need to be able to relate to them.

The second reason is the director, Derek Cianfrance, who also directed The Place Beyond The Pines this year, which I loved and also had Gosling in. So hell yeah, I trust this guy. Maybe too much.

Dance dance dance
Dude busted out a ukulele. Who isn’t swooning right now?

Basically, I think of this film as an experiment. If we make Ryan Gosling an alcoholic scumbag charmer, will women still love him?

I actually forgot I saw a trailer for this movie a few years ago, and it is a cute one. The first half of it is from the scene from the picture above, and it just makes you want to see the movie.

Blue Valentine is about Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dan (Gosling). Originally Dan was just a mover, and he met Cindy while she was visiting her Grandmother at an old folks home. Sure, she had a boyfriend, but its Ryan Fucking Gosling. So they have sex, oh no pregnancy, time to get married.

Years later, Ryan Gosling looks like a strange Jason Lee as Earl. Their marriage is falling apart. No love, no communication, potentially loving other suitors. But they have a daughter. Can either of them change to have a successful relationship?

Blue
Oooh, there’s the blue.

In 2001, Michelle Williams became attached to the script, and in 2003, Ryan Gosling. That is right after The Notebook Ryan Gosling. Why did it take six years? Well, originally the director wanted to film the young and old scenes several actual years apart, very cool idea. But that didn’t happen, they were just poor and needed a long time to get funding.

The movie itself is all sorts of depressing. Usually that means someone dies, and hey, no one dies at the end. It is just too realistic of a failing marriage where neither side can save it, and it is sad. I didn’t cry or anything, I just felt bad.

So if you like feeling bad, guess what, you might love this movie!

I thought this movie was incredibly well acted, but not complete soul crushing/depressing enough for my normal perfect score. I was a bit confused as the movie isn’t told in order, there are the two plot lines of when they first meet and get together, to many years later when they have a child. I thought it was somewhat hard to follow early on, but halfway through everything was a lot clearer.

I bet this film didn’t get as much attention, because people don’t like the Gosling who drinks too much, they like the one who says Hey Girl.

3 out of 4.

The Place Beyond The Pines

The Place Beyond The Pines by itself is an interesting title. It is actually the literal meaning of Schenectady, a town in New York where this film both takes place and is filmed. Damn these clever directors and writers!

The title is also mysterious enough on its own right to potentially gain viewers by itself. Every time there is a bad movie title, I tend to harp on it, so I felt it was my duty to point out the excellent ones as well.

Gosling
Hey girl, even though I am surrounded by flashy lights and neon signs, all I can see is you.
What would you do to support the ones you love? More importantly, what if you just found out you had loved ones who needed support?

Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle rider for a traveling fair, the guy who gets into the tiny steel ball and rides around. It is a lonely life, always traveling, but he can sometimes find love in the random towns that he stays at. Like Romina (Eva Mendes), who he had a nice time with last year, but now lives with a man (Mahershala Ali) and has a son. Well, Luke’s son it turns out.

Luke doesn’t know how to handle this situation, but he doesn’t want to be a scumbag father, like his own, so he quits his job and settles in Schenectady. He finds a job as an auto mechanic with Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), but it still isn’t enough. He needs a large sum, and he needs it now. So why not rob a bank? Who does that really hurt?

This film also tells of Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a law school student turned cop, who doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his own father (Harris Yulin), a member of the state supreme court. Even the small towns may have local corruption, and that corruption may cause conflict in his household with his wife (Rose Byrne) and other cops (Ray Liotta).

Pines also features Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan, but I don’t want to tell the specifics of their parts.

Cooper
Hey girl, I know I am no Ryan Gosling, but check out these cheekbones. Hey, wait, come back!
The “Sins Of Your Father” theme is a popular one for shows, movies, and novels, yet I always feel like it never really resonates with me and always falls flat. The Place Beyond The Pines might have the best showcasing of this theme I have ever witnessed, making me truly understand the full extent of what it means, and how it can be conveyed.

The movie is split up pretty nicely into three parts, with the end of part one coming out of left field. It was well acted up to that point, but it was still missing a major umph to get my full attention, and it was sure to bring it. After that, I was hooked and couldn’t look away from the screen, wondering what other secrets and twists it had in store for me.

Everything about this movie felt amazing to me, especially the acting. Eva Mendes is basically the only woman character in this movie. Lately, she seems to be put in movies more often for her looks than her talents, but she definitely delivers in this film.

I have talked to about five-six people about this movie, and at least from the “guy perspective” everyone loved it. The one woman I talked to thought it was decent, but not the best. The themes presented may be easier to latch on to for men, since it falls so heavily into the son/father relationship category, but despite that I think this movie can be enjoyed by everyone.

It might just be the best drama I have seen so far in 2013. This with Silver Linings Playbook has elevated Bradley Cooper into an elite acting category, and it will take more than a new Hangover to knock him down from it.

4 out of 4.

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