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The Place Beyond the Pines(2013)
A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.
For more about The Place Beyond the Pines and the The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray release, see the The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Rose Byrne, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Derek Cianfrance
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The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray Review
"And your skill set? Very unique..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 6, 2013
The Place Beyond the Pines is an achingly beautiful, sometimes unbearably tense meditation on an age-old mystery, one that continues to confound both academics and philosophers; men of science and men of faith. Are sons cursed to suffer the sins of their fathers? Or do the righteous and wicked, fathers and sons alike, reap only the sins each one sows? Spiritually, it's a deeply profound idea that places the onus on the parent and the individual. Biologically and psychologically, by nature or nurture, hook or by crook, it's just as profound, requiring adults to examine the choices they make in the now, and evaluate the possible consequences those choices may hold for their children. Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance doesn't make any attempt to answer such questions in The Place Beyond the Pines, which would make for an even more dangerously ambitious film than the deceptively simple multigenerational saga already is. Instead, he focuses solely on the alarming ease with which two fathers' sins seep into their sons' lives, polluting the familial waters in tragic, wholly unexpected ways.
Cianfrance and co-writers Ben Coccio and Darius Marder stage a tightly interconnected three-act crime drama that tells three distinct stories. In the first, we meet Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling), a traveling daredevil and motorcyclist who impulsively quits his job and moves to a small town in New York upon learning that he has an infant son. To his dismay, the boy's mother -- one-night-stand Romina (Eva Mendes) -- isn't happy about his decision at all, as her current boyfriend, Kofi (Mahershala Ali), is the kind of stable family man she wants in her life. But Luke isn't one take no for an answer, or to let hard times prevent him from being a father. Partnering with his boss and landlord, a mechanic named Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), Luke tries his hand at robbing banks and discovers he has a knack for making quick cash. It's then that we're suddenly thrust into the middle of the second story, where we meet Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a police officer and new father who's hailed for taking a bullet in the line of duty. His new status in the department, short lived as it is, brings him to the attention of Peter Deluca (Ray Liotta), a corrupt cop who decides to take Avery on an illegal search and seizure. Racked with guilt in the aftermath of his complicity, Avery is forced to make an impossible choice between loyalty and honor.
It's the third story, though, that will divide audiences to some degree, albeit not to such an extreme that The Place Beyond the Pines becomes a love-it-or-leave-it affair. Fifteen years after Luke and Avery cross paths, their teenage sons -- Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen) -- find themselves attending the same high school, sitting across from one another at the same lunch table, and becoming fast friends. Neither one realizes the connection they share, and neither one fully understands why Avery, now running for public office, would go out of his way to protect both Jason and AJ when the teens are arrested. As Jason begins to piece together information about Avery, and as AJ grows more and more distant from his father, the boys' lives are changed forever. It's here that divisiveness festers, and for a number of reasons, the first being Cohen's aggressive performance (brash, alienating, and unlikable by design), and the second being the manner in which Jason and AJ's lives collide. With Luke and Avery's stories, Cianfrance, Coccio and Marder are all but invisible; events unfold and dialogue is delivered with such natural, convincing rhythms that the resulting conflict and realism is nothing short of riveting. But when Jason and AJ enter the fray, the screenwriters leap in with them and become all too visible. Events transpire that very much feel as if they were born from a screenplay rather than reality. Revelations occur that are much more contrived than anything that graces the first two acts. And the culmination of the fathers' sins is a bit too on the nose, particularly as those same sins drive Jason to do things that, were it not for the always excellent DeHaan's gripping performance, would ring false and out of character.
Thankfully, those immersed in the tale and its telling will find any distractions that accompany the film's third-act shift to be minimal and, quite arguably, necessary. As absorbing as The Place Beyond the Pines is as Luke hurtles toward destruction and Avery struggles to deal with his own fall, the first two stories only find their meaning in the third. It's Jason and AJ's tenuous friendship that brings Luke and Avery's sins and legacies full circle; DeHaan and Cohen's raw energy and screen presence that reveals the previously unseen plot and character threads that span the entire saga; Jason and AJ that make Luke and Avery's lives even more compelling and complex on repeat viewings; DeHaan and Cohen's performances that make Gosling and Cooper's work that much more layered and masterful. The fathers share very little screentime with the sons, and yet it's abundantly clear that Cianfrance has invested tremendous time and nuance into developing the various connections that tie father to son, past to present, and the sin of the father to the redemption by the son. And it's only when the credits roll that it becomes clear just how much Cianfrance has accomplished, often without showing his hand or tipping his hat in the slightest. The Place Beyond the Pines is best savored a second and third time, when the full breadth of the three stories can be explored in tandem. The fact that the film features outstanding performances all around, evocative cinematography courtesy of Sean Bobbitt (Hunger, Shame), a driving score from Mike Patton, and a palpable confidence behind every shot and scene only makes it all that much more potent.
The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray, Video Quality
No fuss, no frills. The Place Beyond the Pines and its gritty, no-nonsense cinematography boasts immediacy and atmosphere, and Universal's faithful, utterly filmic 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation doesn't deviate from Cianfrance and Bobbitt's intentions for a second. Colors range from bold to bleached, and are largely subject to natural lighting, occasionally to highly contrasted, sun-shot ends. None of it disappoints, though, and there's a prevailing consistency to the tone and palette, complete with lifelike skintones and deep blacks. Detail is also excellent, with crisp edges, finely tuned textures, striking closeups and solid delineation. Crush, uneven grain and exceedingly minor ringing are really the only issues of note, and most, if not all of these instances are inherent to the original photography and source. The encode is perfectly proficient too, without any artifacting, banding, aliasing or other anomalies to report. The Place Beyond the Pines looks exactly as it should, and Universal continues to pay the utmost respect to its recent theatrical releases and their high definition presentations.
The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track values realism above all else, as does the film's sound design, which features a subtle but absorbing soundscape bristling with small touches that make all the difference. Dialogue is clean, clear and firmly and convincingly rooted in the mix. Prioritization is dead on, even though voices are sometimes at the mercy of wind, the elements or the unforgiving acoustics of any given interior or smalltown location. LFE output isn't very "smalltown" at all, though, and motorcycle escapes, state fair crowds, fist fights, gunshots and Patton's pulsing score take advantage. The rear speakers don't lie down and die either, embracing every ambient effect, cross-channel pan and directional detail The Place Beyond the Pines has in store. Each locale sounds very much like it should, with a sense of enveloping authenticity that doesn't overreach or under-deliver.
The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Place Beyond the Pines is a powerful ensemble drama, with outstanding performances and a carefully structured trio of riveting stories that bypass the usual interconnected-character tropes and strive for something greater; something more honest and revealing. The sins of the father are revisited upon the son in spectacularly minimalistic fashion, and a divisive, initially jarring third act is the only thing that prevents the film from resonating more. Tackle a second or third viewing, though, and watch as Cianfrance's true talents are put on display. Universal's Blu-ray release is terrific as well, with a striking video presentation, immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a solid selection of extras. All told, The Place Beyond the Pines is an easy one to recommend.
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The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 6-13 - August 4, 2013
For the week of August 6th, Universal Studios is releasing Oblivion, which is Joseph Kosinski's flawed-but-fascinating follow-up to Tron: Legacy. Other releases include Jeff Nichols' phenomenal drama Mud, with its great Matthew McConaughey performance, the multigenerational ...
• The Place Beyond the Pines Blu-ray - June 6, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced and detailed the Blu-ray release of filmmaker Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen and ...
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