This never happens – really – but last night I faced an impossible decision. I had tickets to TWO movie screenings, and there was no frontrunner. In the past, I might have had the occasional double night, but it’d be a no-brainer (Silver Linings Playbook vs. Parental Guidance, for example), but THIS time, well, not so easy. My two choices: 1) The Place Beyond the Pines (an upcoming Ryan Gosling movie) or 2) Royal Wedding. Ok, ok, I do realize that the latter is a 1951 Fred Astaire movie, so for some of you maybe this WAS a no-brainer, but you so rarely see classic films on big screens AND there were two special guests: co-star Jane Powell and famed film historian Leonard Maltin. However, the screening of Pines also boasted a special guest, director Derek Cianfrance (of Blue Valentine fame). See the predicament?! Well, in the end I chose Pines with a heavy heart. But then I remember Ryan Gosling and I felt a bit better.
Ok, on to the real post. As I mentioned, the director was accompanying this screening of The Place Beyond the Pines, so the theatre was packed. Jam packed. Maeve was feeling a bit sick, so I flew solo – that person who sees movies alone who you simultaneously pity and respect (Shout-out, Aunt Laurie). I was also busy preparing myself for the inevitable emotional turmoil because after Blue Valentine I spent a week ringing tears from my Puffs plus.
For those who don’t know, Pines is a “triptych” film starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes. Ray Liotta also makes a small appearance as a crooked cop (type-casting!). Apparently it is NOT a western, which I assumed from the poster, but rather three interwoven tales of father-son relationships, spanning 15 years. And it all takes place in Schenectedy, NY. I won’t say much more about the plot, because although unusual, it is satisfyingly surprising and fresh. All I can say is that Cianfrance did an excellent job of building three separate storylines and merging them seamlessly.
As expected, this film ripped out my heart and broke it in a million pieces. I will never watch it again. I will also never forget it. It’s a beautiful narrative on familial relationships – how each action has consequences bigger than yourself, consequences that pass to your children. Nearing 2.5 hours, it’s a long movie, and certainly feels it. Cianfrance has over a decade of experience as a documentary filmmaker, and these talents shine forth in the raw, unstylized directing. It’s a brutally “real” film, but as one who loves to escape, not my cup of tea.
The acting is phenomenal, as you might expect. Gosling exudes a charming, introverted persona, as per usual. Bradley Cooper plays outside of his comfort zone, offering a refreshing and unexpected performance. The breakout stars are the two sons – I expect to see a great deal more from them. Especially Dane DeHaan.
So the credits roll, and the theatre staff screams that we should stay seated, that there’s a special guest. Yeah yeah. Then Derek Cianfrance walks out. Oh wait. Then Bradley Cooper walks out. It was madness – screaming, applause, fainting. When I finally came to, they had begun the Q&A. Cianfrance was charming and fascinating and brilliant. Cooper had funny moments, but was mostly bland. I didn’t mind much.
Bottom line: I’m glad I skipped out on Royal Wedding. And that I was forced to sit in the 3rd row…so close. And that I wasn’t Maeve.
For The Place Beyond the Pines, I would pay a solid $7. For another Q&A with Cooper, significantly more.
P.S. – Don’t click on the embedded ads. I can’t get rid of them!