Tag Archives: gritty

The Place Beyond the Pines, a film by Derek Cianfrance

The Place Beyond the Pines is a Hollywood rarity. Theme is the driving force here, not plot, saturating every layer of the film. Cycles and cyclical imagery abound. At its core, Beyond the Pines is about how boys become their fathers, even if they consciously set out on different paths.

Essentially three short films in one (connected through a thematic father/son through-line), the movie proves itself through uncanny execution of what could easily have been a forgettable snapshot in time. The extraordinary directorial vision makes use of perspective and point of view to create a three-dimensional world, elevating a simple genre story into a filmic experience.beyond the pines 50

Visually gritty and visceral, the film is aglow with light and textures of color. Breathtaking cinematography makes use of the rich, the dramatic, and the crisp to capture the feel of vintage film stock. A slow, relaxed introduction to the story paints each scene as a thoughtful, ponderous photograph. But this pacing is double-edged, making the film feel a bit too slow and ponderous at times.

One thing is certain: The storytellers truly know character. Populating the cast with coarse, realistic individuals that feel genuine and real, each and every character comes across flawed and human. Excellent acting rounds out the characters with additional depth. The multiple protagonists can be jarring—as each new handoff brings instant change in tone—but ultimately serving to contrast or parallel the protagonists’ families.

What could they have done better?

1. Too Many Films

More than anything, this should have been two films. The first, an atmospheric short. The second, an interesting failed experiment. Although connected thematically and as a way to span generations of fathers and sons, a short opening sequence could solve that issue without making the film feel overlong. Granted, this would impact the Cianfrance’s audacious vision. But we are addressing story, not vision.

2. Act Two Pacing / Direction

Being thematically-driven, the act two development section feels as though it lacks forward direction at times. Creating a more clearly motivated end-point for characters in this section would have helped keep the pace from lagging. Cutting a few scenes to be shorter with less navel-gazing is another tried-and-true solution to a lull in pacing.

3. Extend Act One Meticulousness

The first act feels meticulously groomed, refined, and executed, making the other acts pale by comparison. During the script development phase, the writing team could have extended the tone and attention to story from act one to the rest of the film. Once in the editing room, however, the solution lies—believe it or not—in editing.

While Beyond the Pines may not be perfect, it is anything but another lobotomized Hollywood clone, but rather, a thoughtful observation of human behavior. If you’re a cinephile who loves mood and character and you’re in search of an experience that’s more complex and dense than your everyday summer flick, be sure to check it out.

Rating: 4 / 5

 

Want feedback or development help with your script or film? Contact us! We’re just a click away:

Top 10 Guy Movies to See Before You Die

No, this isn’t a collection of fine art or introspective indie films. These are man-guzzling, eye-popping, armpit-sweating flicks that will double your testosterone and make you want to chug a 12-pack of beer and do 10,000 pushups with your pinky fingers.

Are they the BEST man movies ever made? Not likely.

Are they the most BADASS man movies ever made? Probably not.

Are they a list of my 10 favorite man movies ever made? Absolutely.

1. Fight Club (1999)

The first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. The Second Rule of Fight Club is that you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

2. 300 (2006)

movie poster for 300 a film by zack snyder who created the movie Sin City

Despite some misguided opinions, 300 is not a commentary on current world affairs or the American war in Iraq. It’s about 300 of the manliest of man with incredible abs being badasses for 117 minutes.

3. Die Hard (1988)

movie poster for Die Hard starring Bruce Willis, the movie that changed action movies forever

Die Hard is the classic man movie that revolutionized the action movie genre by adding depth, mystery and incredible plot twists. It may be over 25 years old, but that doesn’t make any less manly to watch.

4. Rambo: First Blood (1982)

movie poster for Rambo: First Blood, starting one of the most famous action franchises

The original Rambo: First Blood made in 1982, not the 2008 gorefest sequel. Here we have one of the manliest men of all time doing all kinds of extremely awesome man things like killing baddies with handmade primitive weapons, building deadly traps out of raw materials and gunning down guys like a madman—but without the cartooniness of its sequel, Rambo II.

5. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

movie poster for Stephen Spielberg's World War II movie epic Saving Private Ryan

If there ever was an epic war story about brotherhood, this would be it. War, guns, explosions, blood and guts, and bros before hos. That’s what it’s all about.

6. Conan the Barbarian (1982)

movie poster for the original Conan the Barbarian film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

Before its sequel and the 2011 remake ruined its reputation, this stoic barbarian film about swords and sorcery was a regular part of the manly meal. Let’s make it so once more.

7. Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

movie poster for the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds starring Nick Cage

Guys, cars, cops and criminals. Need I say more?

8. Gunga Din (1939)

movie poster for the Cary Grant classic adventure film Gunga Din

This nearly forgotten classic is about boys being boys. Features the noble savage, cavalry coming to the rescue, evil natives and lots and lots of fights.

9. Bad Boys 2 (2003)

movie poster for classic guy movie Bad Boys II starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith

Two badasses with guns doing manly things, like shooting baddies in a ridiculous over-the-top glamorous version of Cops.

10. The Godfather (1972)

movie poster for The Godfather starring Al Pacino and Marlon Brando

Let me make you an offer you can’t refuse: Betray the family and you sleep with the fishes. Watch this movie and you will understand.

Red State, a film by Kevin Smith

Red State (2011) is Kevin Smith’s first and only derivation from his View Akewniverse, and probably for good reason. Smith skillfully creates an authentic world filled with realism in violence and characters devoid of true white hats while successfully avoiding the heavy rambling dialogue of his prior work. And while the atmosphere, acting and mise-en-scene are superbly imparted, the film ultimately suffers as a soaking mess in terms of plot and structure.

red state movie poster for minimalist review of the movie film Red State by Kevin SmithFascinating characters are the heart and soul of Red State. Smith seamlessly shifts the focus between central cast members without disrupting the plot. Minimal effort is required to reveal the rich inner lives of the characters (which is to be expected, given his prior work), even though there are “few redeeming characters” (filmmaker’s words).

Smith’s use of unknown actors lends gravity to the authenticity of the film, but this decision is a double-edged sword, making the introduction of famous actor John Goodman halfway through the film jarringly intrusive. Had his character been introduced at the 17 or 30 minute mark (or even as the protagonist) this could have been averted.

While Goodman’s performance proved to be one of the least interesting in the whole film, actor Michael Parks portrays his character with absolute brilliance. His performance is perfectly and fully realized, charismatic, and utterly entrancing, the true gem of the film.

While the director demonstrates his usual strength as a character-oriented storyteller he also describes his grave lack of ability in plot development. The story is handled clumsily, going out of its way to draw Waco parallels at the expense of an organic plot. In a failed attempt at richness, Smith fails to juggle multiple storylines, each being underdeveloped and poorly communicated, the confused cluster finally crashing into a smoking heap by the end. Other problems stem from this failure, such as numerous payoffs with no accompanying setups (including a key piece in the plot’s final moments), frivolous character deaths, and far too little much “telling” through monologues instead of “showing.”

In the end, this reviewer felt that the film should have been about the cult, not the outside interlopers. More material was to be gained by doing so and would provide the audience greater understanding of each faction in the film. As it is, even the title “Red State“is an ungainly play at immature political commentary.

Rating: 2 / 5

Get the Gringo, a film by Adrian Grunberg

By James Gilmore

Adrian Grunberg’s gritty tough-guy film, Get the Gringo, is a wry tongue-in-cheek action crime drama with an edgy but resourceful troublemaker for a protagonist. He is proactive and refreshingly clever, a guy who only looks out for himself in world where everyone is corrupt and everyone is out to get him.

Colorful in texture, tone and visuals, Gringo creates a palatable experience for the audience free from the dictatorial confines of the mainstream Hollywood studio system, as is evident in some of its more taboo elements and several touches of brutal violence. Characters grow out of the naturally developing, organic plotline and are inseparable from this well-told story.

Some viewers may find parts of the third act low on the believability scale but overall Gringo’s storytelling flaws are minimal.

Although the film may not aspire to deep philosophical pondering the film fulfills its goal as a solid piece of entertainment. If you are in the mood for a Friday night flick that is refreshing, stimulating and all-around entertaining, give Get the Gringo a try.

Rating: 3.5 / 5