I’d like to take this too far: in the stately, studied long take that opens “The Place Beyond The Pines,” the camera begins a traveling shot on a man’s shoulders, bare, tattooed—Ryan Gosling playing a peripatetic stuntman named Luke—moving across a carnival fairway toward a circus tent and, inside, to the “Globe of Death,” a symbol the shape, if not the size, of the earth itself, as well as the shape of the cross-generational, masculine micro-epic to come. Three motorcycles hum like bees, infernal, unending, repeating, and the camera, the cameraman, the film, we, move to its very edge, and the story begins within this planet, this dangerous, heedless motorized sphere, as we look upward at these stunt riders whirling, whirling, whirling.
“The Place Beyond The Pines” has many surprises, including its shape as an all-American minor apocalypse of Dickensian contour, a protean and sprawling multigenerational micro-epic, a dark flower with James Gray-scale ambition and a clanging pair of New York State balls. (Robert Towne’s script for “Chinatown” is a more fully rounded predecessor with a site-specific allegorical title.) Fate falls on men, and on their sons. In Derek Cianfrance’s third feature, fate falls like one very attractive truckload of bricks. Read the rest of this entry »