Don't miss out on crime drama

The unfortunate part about living in Hastings is that we miss out on the limited release films, but luckily someone invented the VCR, then eventually DVD and Blu-Ray players. Films such as "The Place Beyond the Pines" or another release from this week, "Mud," are reasons I am happy that we have these capabilities so that a smaller city like ours never has to miss out on a single motion picture.

Don't miss out on "The Place Beyond the Pines" if you love crime films, epic dramas, or actors at the top of their game.

"The Place Beyond the Pines" tells the story of two families and their intertwining lives that will both surprise audiences and produce sympathy for them. I'm not one to spoil films for anyone so I'll say no more than that regarding the plot.

The film is directed by Derek Cianfrance, whose last feature was "Blue Valentine," a film also starring Ryan Gosling.

Let's talk about Gosling first. We don't necessarily see anything new from Gosling as an actor. He plays brooding loner to a tee by this point, but as they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Gosling is the poster child for this mentality. His performances are subtle and mysterious, but you can tell the actor puts a lot of thought into his work. Many want to see this heartthrob start doing big action spectacles, but I think the independent market would be losing a star if he were to do that.

In addition to Gosling's work, the great performances are piled on thick in this film. Bradley Cooper gives his performance everything and matches the power he presented in "Silver Linings Playbook." One of my new favorite character actors, Ben Mendelsohn ("The Dark Knight Rises"), kills it as Gosling's criminal partner early on in the film. Mendelsohn falls into every role he's given with such ease that you hardly believe the man is playing a part. Finally, you've got the former crime god Ray Liotta making a return to stronger material rather than wasting away in straight-to-DVD nonsense he's currently known for. Liotta is brutal in this film and you want to trust the guy so much that it hurts when he lets you down. I strongly suggest if you like either Mendelsohn or Liotta's performances that you see "Killing Them Softly," another criminal drama that turns in superior performances.

As you might have noticed in weeks past I prefer a film where the roles are balanced between genders. While I wouldn't say "The Place Beyond the Pines" accomplishes this completely, it does have some great scenes for Rose Byrne and Eva Mendes, the two female leads. These two actresses share scenes with their cinematic significant others and maintain the chemistry needed for the characters to both be romantic, but also possess substance and not simply act as set dressing, a trend in filmmaking that must end.

In addition to all the stunning characters and performance comes an accurate eye from both director and cinematographer that creates a film experience that feels natural. The camera follows the actor and observes rather than imposes on scenes. This particular method of filmmaking works perfectly. I look forward to seeing what will come from all of these exceptional actors and their director in the future.

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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