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Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

Written by Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder and directed by Cianfrance, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a film about the mistakes a man can make and how those choices effect others over time. The film plays with the expectations ingrained in most audiences’ psyche as we follow several characters that interact by chance in Synecdoche New York. Now, due to the nature of this narrative, spoilers will be included in this review, but I do recommend this film- mainly for the cinematography and flow of the narrative.

We begin the story by following Ryan Gosling’s traveling motorcyclist Luke who essentially lives with a traveling carnival. After a show in Synecdoche Luke sees an old flame, Romina (Eva Mendes) and offers her a ride home. The next day he stops back at her house and is met by her mother holding a small blonde child, Luke’s son. Once he is met with the realization that he is a father he offers to help the best way he can. So he quits the carnival, meets some guy on a quad while out motocrossing through the woods (as you do), tries to work for that guy on his property through mechanic work, then starts robbing banks once he discovers that doesn’t pay well enough. Eventually things go awry, as bank robberies tend to do, and Luke gets into a chase sequence with a rookie cop that ends in a suburban house with Luke and the rookie cop both shooting each other and Luke falling to his death.

From that point on we follow the story of that cop, Avery (who also happens to be played by Bradley Cooper). He’s labeled a hero but is constantly fraught with guilt over Luke’s death as Avery also had a son roughly the same age. After some time he finds that he’s in a police department swarmed with corruption and fraud-which is where Ray Liotta turns up and gets to play his traditional gangster bit as a corrupt cop. Shortly after this we jump fifteen years forward in time to focus on both Luke and Avery’s sons and how they eventually interact and discover the truths surrounding their fathers’ lives.

What I enjoyed most about this film was the curvy path this narrative took. There are also some real emotional linchpins throughout that are visually compelling and thoughtfully acted by both Cooper and Gosling. Both are trying to make better lives for their sons, but both fail them in different ways. The story feels more cyclical than it may be, but while the film is unique in the way it tells its story, its themes and arcs feel familiar all the same. Possibly because stories about fathers and sons are as old as time itself, but also because it connects to universal goals of fatherhood and the anxieties that come from it. In any case, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is available on Netflix (at least at the time of writing this review) and I recommend giving it a watch.

Final Score: Two fathers, two sons

 

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Casting “Justice League Dark”

Now that we know Doug Liman will be directing DC’s ‘Justice League Dark’ after Guillermo Del Toro departed from the production we can have some fun with casting the team. Also credit due to the popular youtube channnel ScreenJunkies for inspiring my own interpretation of this movie’s cast. Justice League Dark is a particularly fun comic dealing with, as the title implies, the darker side of the DCEU with the inclusion of possesion, demons, and the occasional trip to heaven and/or hell. This is the down and dirty side of DC that Batman, Superman, and Flash may dip their toes in from time to time, but are usually too busy defending the earth from galactic sized problems to deal with. Sometimes you just need a rag tag group of rejects that happen to be well versed in the dark arts.

Ryan Gosling as John Constantine

Okay, hear me out. Ryan Gosling has done an impeccable job removing himself from any rom/com stigma he may have had lingering around within the last five years and made quite the household name for himself. His range in acting ability is pretty incredible and since he seems so darn likeable in most pieces I believe Constantine would provide him with a unique acting challenge as the character is usually steeped in snarky cynical quips, self loathing tirades, or generally being disliked for his arrogant and selfish antihero antics.

Jackie Earle Haley as Boston Brand/Deadman

Not since Rorschach has there been a character more fitting for Jackie Earle Haley. Deadman is a ghost or spirit having the ability to possess others’ bodies amongst other tricks such as intangibility, invisibility, and flight. In his human life he was affluence and sin personified, he didn’t learn how to live until he died. Given these ghostly abilites by a hindu god named ‘Rama Kushna’ Brand had to solve his own murder and then went out to help mortals avoid the same mistakes he made in life. Stoic expressionism and the ability to express dry humor are both talents that Haley has in the bag and I believe he’d bring a unique edge to a character that still wants to hold onto the belief that he remains part of humanity.

Mahershala Ali as Dr. Alec Holland/Swamp Thing

With Netflix’s own ‘House of Cards’ and the upcoming ‘Luke Cage’ series Ali has shown great skill and flexibility in character work. I believe he could bring a compelling performance to the human nature of Swamp Thing because while Swamp Thing is nature bound, there is a human within the green figure that has to be pulled from. Swamp Thing is quite the compelling character in his own right and should receive an actor ready to take on the challenge that this character brings, Ali can do that and more.

Viggo Mortensen as Jason Blood/Etrigan the Demon

Jason Blood was originally a knight in King Arthur’s camelot that gets wrapped up in the supernatural as he becomes bound to Etrigan, a demon from hell that was summoned by Merlin. After Merlin, who by the way is half brothers with Etrigan, summons this demon and finds he cannot pull secrets from him the wizard binds him to the knight, making Jason Blood immortal. Years later Blood resurfaces as a demonologist in Gotham. Blood attempts to utilize his infernal power for good as Etrigan’s power is impressive for DC’s standards. Mortensen would likely have no interest in the part, but with the character’s background as a knight plagued by a demon’s transformative power, it would be fun seeing Viggo in chainmail again in flashbacks. That and this guy really gets into his character motivation and knows how to make this sort of character memorable.

Aubrey Plaza as Zatanna

Genetically gifted as a master sorceress by her father Zatanna is one of DC’s most powerful magic users who moonlights as an illusionist, just as her father did. Zatanna has a lot to give as a member of the occult oriented team and Aubrey Plaza has the wit and charm necessary for this role, I’d love to see what she could do with the material. She’s more than simply a romantic interest for the other characters (although she did have several romantic outings with both Constantine and Jason Blood throughout the comics continuity), Zatanna is incredibly powerful. Here’s a list of her abilities: pyrokinesis, cryokinesis, electrokinesis, hyrdokinesis, geokinesis, aerokinesis, photokinesis, umbrakinesis, telekinesis, telepathy, teleportation, dimensional travel, reality alteration, antipathy, deflection, chronokinesis, weather manipulation, eldritch blast, energy construct creation, energy transference, flight, force field, healing, phasing, size alteration, transformation, prestidigitation, hypnosis, advanced hand to hand combat, occultism, and multilingualism… whew, yeah, this should be a fun character with lots of potential!

So there you have it, sometimes the JLD has a different looking roster from time to time, occasionally including Frankenstein (yes the Frankenstein), but this is the current cast of characters that are believed to be in the movie. Lets all hope Warner Bros. and DC figure out what not to do since ‘Suicide Squad’ already acomplished that for most audiences, because this team up has the potential to do something special. I hope this all works out in the end, nobody enjoys talking about DCEU movies in a negative light, well, at least I don’t, I want these movies to be great! Agree with my choices? Have your own roster of actors for this movie? Comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading!