Derek Cianfrance and Sam Mendes
Is it just me or do I see a similarity between Derek Cianfrance and Sam Mendes’ CVs? Both directors like sledgehammering the family as an institution, and I’m not saying that as an insult.
For sake of argument, let’s say that Cianfrance’s first movie, Brother Tied, isn’t his début. Has any of you even seen that? With this in mind, Blue Valentine is Cianfrance’s prettier version of American Beauty (the former, of course, has less braying), both movies being about families with slacker husbands (Ryan Gosling and Kevin Spacey), an ambitious but trapped wife (Michelle Williams and Annette Bening), and a daughter (Faith Wladyka and Thora Birch).
The Place Beyond the Pines, then, is Cianfrance’s Road to Perdition, both being literary (like) epics about criminal fathers (Ryan Gosling and Tom Hanks) and their ambivalent sons (Tyler Hoechlin and Dane DeHaan).
I shouldn’t share my crackpots fantasies but this is the Internet and I can do whatever I want. These similarities make me wonder what’s next for Cianfrance. I kind of want to see him tackle a war movie, an action movie, an Ian McEwan adaptation. Or theatre. We always like it when movie directors have their hand in theatre, right?
Anyway, read what else I’ve written on The Place Beyond the Pines here and there’s another link below.
- The Place Beyond the Pines Review (Paolo Kagaoan) (entertainmentmaven.com)
I know I’ve discussed gender perspective in genre movies so I feel as if I’m treading too familiar of a ground but it still fascinates me that we’re watching a male protagonist in contemporary romantic movies now, like here in Nick Cassavetes‘ adaptation of The Notebook, the catalyst to Nicholas Sparks‘ factory of insufferable ubiquity. But this movie that started it all is still exemplary in the way it visualizes emotion.
Anyway, we’re seeing James Garner‘s character narrating. At least that shows that men have some semblance of feelings, as well as giving for both the female target audience and their poor boyfriends a reason to stay for the movie. Or no, it’s more complex than that, he tells it in Rachel McAdams‘ character’s point of view who, after all, is a fitting centre because she – as part of the genre’s formula, I know and I don’t care – has to choose between two men, a poor young man of her dreams (Ryan Gosling) and his richer yet equally handsome and benevolent rival (James Marsden). He has a purpose and pathos in retelling this story. Attraction or emotional attachment, as the genre suggests, are the most important aspects to ponder in her choice and with the movie’s setting – the 1960’s – and class dynamics it’s still a wonder whether she would act on those factors or repress them and stay with the suitable man her mother (Joan Allen) want to marry. Whether this would end in a fade-out happiness or tragedy.
The Notebook is the closest we’ll get to a Sirkian drama although it doesn’t go to those heightened emotions. I’m talking about the well-crafted visuals here, the clear images, sticking out against movies made that year that are either too plastic, dark or wintry. It’s a great lens to portray Garner and a woman he’s taken a liking to at an old folks home (Gena Rowlands) – he tells his younger relatives that he will never let her go after taking pains to find her. But the cinematography is more naturalistic yet glowingly lucid in depicting their younger equivalents, experiencing rural beauty – someone has probably already written some thesis about how different it is to fall in love within the country as it is in the city. The couple find themselves alone while he rows a boat further into a river where tall trees and the whitest ducks in the world would be, but there’s this Arcadian purity in their seclusion and the camera is in the right kind of distance to experience both the lovebirds’ perspective as well as enjoy their environment. Great romantic movies like this fool us into thinking these two can’t be in any bad scenario – some of us think of courtship scenes more cynically because doesn’t work with us real people – except for the ones where they have to be pulled apart. And the movie’s length didn’t bother me as long as they spent more time or possible grow together.
This is a movie of boat rides and car rides, a woman going to her loved one or her mother showing her the risks of marrying down. A movie about discovery that those little journeys produce. Although one thing strange about the mother’s revelation, that maybe the reason that her own fling ends up the way he did is because she didn’t save him. I’m not saying that women are obliged to save lower class boys and convert them into the kind of men that their parents will approve of but there is this therapeutic element to relationships, or at least the movie shows characters’ romantic bonds as to having that effect. But even though her mother and her fiancée prefer that she doesn’t run off and elope, they’re not necessarily the movie’s villains, since they’re merely looking out for her best interests.
Also, isn’t it a bit Crazy that Allen and Rowlands are in a movie together and if McAdams proves herself to be better than her present role choices – this movie, like Sparks’ oeuvre, also starting her stint as the actress in every other weepy – she could join them as part of a great actress ensemble? She can hold the screen in what could be considered a period piece without being overwhelmed and relying on the costumes and hair. It’s the latest example of a movie knowing how to sympathize with and aestheticize a woman and the people and objects around her in a way that most directors have now forgotten to do.
America: The Ides of March
“I’m YELLING because of a SCANDAL!”
“I’m yelling BACK because YOU are yelling and the scandal is BS!”
“I’m crying because everyone around me is yelling and the world that I know is deteriorating.”
That’s pretty much how the TV spots advertise George Clooney‘s new film The Ides of March, making it look like your yearly typical awards bait. It’s better than that.
Despite trying to resist temptation, assistant campaign manager Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) takes a phone call from rival Democrat campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). This makes his supervisor Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) unmercifully fire him from the campaign of boss, Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Morris’ (Clooney).
Hoffman, by the way is an alumnus of this kind of movie and I would have it any other way. This, by the way, is based on the play “Farragut North.” The Ides of March is a more dramatic title but the original feels more right, showing that businessmen like Stephen and Paul control and groom the politicians who are supposedly running a country.
Clooney as a director always hints on style but never fully delivers mostly because they echo previous decades, this film particularly relying on political and urban paranoia from the sixties and seventies. Stephen’s silhouette stains a large, draped American flag, symbolic of him partially desecrating American politics. A scene when he makes a call through a pay phone, noticing a man taking a photograph in his direction. Or another when Paul enters Mike’s SUV and the camera stays outside for a minute or so. Other earlier and better films have tackled these images but they’re still competently unsettling today.
The film’s number of flaws seemingly grow when I think about them – the most minor and crass one being that night with Stephen is so sensual that his new lover, intern/daughter of the DNC Chairman/teenager Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) looks like she just got out of the salon the morning after. And that she as well as Mike are Catholics west of Boston, those characters by the way going against the doctrine more than twice. Anyway, it biggest yet easily refuted flaw is Stephen’s supposedly unshakable morality. Throughout the film, he says that he doesn’t have play dirty anymore because he has Morris or that he believes “in the cause.” He also boasts that at thirty years of age, he has worked more campaigns than anyone ten years his senior so why would he make such a rookie mistake? But then again, lesser scandals have disgraced older politicians.
Anyway, he recites his words about Morris like a mantra that’s learned as opposed to felt. And he’s not as much the idealist that he wishes. In the first scene, we get to know a bit about Stephen. He mockingly rehearses for his boss’ speech (‘Don’t vote for me if I’m not tall enough. Don’t vote for me.’) and refers to the latter as a hobbit – God forbid, he found a flaw within George Clooney! From then on, I can imagine the audience realizing that it would be a waste of emotion to sympathize with him. He does a lot of slimy things especially when his affair with Molly gets out of hand. His career in jeopardy, he does desperate things to keep his career afloat, in turn harming the people he’s supposed to worship or love.
His eyes look like an angered anime character in the film’s final scenes and I’m probably not alone in saying that his expressions are just like that of the Driver. Which means that yes, we can joke that the similarities between the two characters mean that Gosling’s comic turn in Crazy, Stupid Love is him stretching. The problem with ubiquity like Gosling’s is that we can see the same mannerisms in different films but at least his tics are less distracting than the actor who is supposed to play his role – Leonardo di Caprio. Gosling is the film’s pivot, capably bringing across the arc that his interesting character takes. 3.5/5
Seminal Television: MMC
This is what I do when I’m doing nothing, post short entries, sometimes with a video. The releases of two of his movies, the underwhelming Drive and the promising The Ides of March, feeds our continuing obsession with Ryan Gosling. I’ve seen the Frank McCullen sketches in the Mickey Mouse Club show, but let’s look at his stint as an R&B singer alongside Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez. via HuffPo.
Ah, he used to enunciate. I love how he sings using his hands and how everyone in the 90’s wore sixteen sizes larger than what they’re supposed to. Apparently he abstained from the dancing element in the MCC boot camp, which might go against him if he ever wanted to be in a musical. Gosling as Enjolras!
- FLASHBACK: Ryan Gosling & Justin Timberlake (In Overalls!) As Child Stars (huffingtonpost.com)
Finally, a Drive Review. Ish.
‘I drive? for the movies?’ ‘Can you dance?’ It’s like Drive‘s star Ryan Gosling has a bit of an upward inflection like a New Yorker who moved to LA, the latter being the film’s setting. I didn’t buy him as a ex-Floridian in Blue Valentine and even if he doesn’t sound like he’s from ‘here,’ the accent isn’t a flaw and it’s actually cute.
This is a call to suggest music for me, trying to reinvent myself and my iPod because of the Drive soundtrack, especially this song because it’s ridiculous, especially in a part the begins in the minute and a half mark that they skip in the movie.
This song was playing during Standard’s (Oscar Isaac) ‘homecoming from prison’ scene. Standard is the Driver’s (Gosling) platonic-y love interest Irene’s (Carey Mulligan) husband, the two men reluctantly joining a heist that goes awry. Despite of myself and my knowledge of stereotypes that I shouldn’t write, I find it incredulous that a former jail-bird listens to electronic synth-pop. Maybe in other ‘New LA’ films but not these characters. Or maybe it’s director Nicolas Winding Refn re-imagining the scene with his own soundtrack à la Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette or oh who cares.
[ETA: Sasha James doesn’t talk about this scene nor the music. Her post is kinder to the film, but I’m still not sure which one of us hates the movie more.]
Imagine Neil Marshall as the director (maybe), Hugh Jackman as the Driver (no), Jacinda Barrett as Blanche (maybe) and a Hispanic actress, say, Rosario Dawson as Irene (maybe). I write this because Mulligan’s chemistry with Gosling and Isaac was absent. We’ve seen Gosling fall magically in love with his co-stars and it’s strangely sad not to see it happen here.
Looking up selected songs from the soundtrack as well as its iMDb page, where I got the cast and crew turnover from, made me feel like I was subconsciously destroying or deconstructing the movie before I even watched it. But I also get the feeling that Refn was doing the same while making it.
Maybe I should embrace the artificiality or seen the characters as anomic and dislocated, their bodies and voices clashing against the sounds of a desolate environment like characters in a Western. But it’s easier to rely on my reaction while experience the movie. Refn miscalculates the film’s mood and doesn’t let the characters on Hossein Amini‘s script grow. 2.5/5.
- Drive ~ (USA, 2011) ~ In Theaters (chazzw.wordpress.com)
Seminal Video: with Ryan Gosling
Via Jezebel. So this place has degraded itself to writing about videos while I’m doing my real writing everywhere else and I have six reviews to write (including four here) and I owe Queen Video a DVD and I have to finish a book and read parts of another and a preview for a Kate Winslet film (She and her kids escaped a fire is Richard Branson’s house, by the way. Yesterday just kept giving me strange emotions.). It’s so weird knowing that Gosling lives in the Lower East Side – I got of the wrong stops off the F train then. What entertains me more in this clip are the New Yorker narrators, who are proof that even if Gosling can stop rough New York fights, he can never stop The Notebook. Enjoy!
- WATCH: Did Ryan Gosling Break Up A Street Fight in NYC? (huffingtonpost.com)