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3.4 out of 5 stars
The Place Beyond the Pines
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2013
Format: DVD
This movie had me from beginning to end. I loved the depth of all the underlying themes that intersected throughout the movie. The significance of a man's role in the family and in a marriage is heavily explored from start to finish. All the main characters appeared very raw and believable. The casting was expert and the complexities of each character were portrayed very subtly without the need for much dialogue, which is always the genius of a well-written movie. The sins of our fathers was a reoccuring theme throughout, and you can feel the inadequacies, hopes, and fears of each character as time unfolds. What gets me the most is witnessing the sweetness and kindness behind each character despite their depravity or past mistakes. This is a very moving story of humanity. You can't help but empathize with each character.
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62 of 73 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 5, 2013
Format: DVD
Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) has a good thing going with a traveling carnival. He's got a pocketful of fame thanks to his motorcycle stuntman status and makes just enough money to get by. He meets up with Romina (Eva Mendes), an old fling, in Schenectady, New York and finds out that their one night together resulted in a little one year old boy named Jason. Luke quits the carnival and intends to provide for his son, but Romina has moved on and is currently in a relationship with Kofi (Mahershala Ali). Luke crosses paths with a mechanic named Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) who talks Luke into robbing a few banks to get some quick cash to support his newfound fatherhood. But Luke gets addicted to the thrill of the hunt and the money and gets overzealous, which attracts the New York police department and rookie cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) in particular.

Director Derek Cianfrance last worked with Ryan Gosling in "Blue Valentine" from 2010, which got a noticeable amount of attention due to its original NC-17 rating. Upon realizing that it really wasn't all that graphic, the MPAA gave the film an R-rating upon review. None of that controversy is attached to "The Place Beyond the Pines," but it certainly earns its R-rating with its constant use of vulgarity, a few really violent sequences, and the use of drugs and alcohol with an underage crowd.

The film opens with the camera following a tattooed from head to toe Ryan Gosling in a red and black bomber jacket at a carnival before he enters a steel cage ball along with his motorcycle on full throttle and his two "heartthrobs." Take note of this sequence along with how similar a sequence near the end of the film is shot as it follows another character. The crime drama is sandwiched between trailing two specific characters and countless establishing shots of beautiful pine forests and meandering roads.

Ryan Gosling seems to wear nothing but a series of tattered T-shirts, which attracts a braless Eva Mendes. You can practically feel the open air as Luke rides his bike through the woods and even when it seems like he's wandering aimlessly out in the middle of nowhere. The film is this constant juggle of intensity and raw human emotion. The bank robberies are aggressive and energetic. Gosling's squeaky threats only seem to heighten the situation. The moments where Luke is trying to spend time with his son are tender and powerful. While Luke may have traveled down the wrong path, his intentions were good. So it's this "all the wrong things for all the right reasons" kind of deal.

Everything becomes really unpredictable around the time Bradley Cooper enters the picture. Every time you begin to think that you have the film figured out it strays down a different path. Ben Mendelsohn seems to have been everywhere since "The Dark Knight Rises." His on-screen chemistry with Gosling is fascinating because it's difficult to determine whether they're bonding as friends or if it's one man taking advantage of another. You are literally entranced with Mendelsohn's deep blue eyes on more than one occasion. Ray Liotta also grabs your attention despite having minimal screen time. The Deluca character is so crooked that you can't help but enjoy his despicable nature. It was also enjoyable to see Dane DeHaan have a sizable role. Dehaan is making quite the name for himself for characters on the verge of adulthood.

Some may label "The Place Beyond the Pines" as slow and boring, but it's actually intense, methodical, and easily one of the most captivating films of the first part of the year. Not knowing where the film is going to go is a huge luxury. It strings you along this intriguing path of corruption that also touches on the price of being a good cop that is currently caught in the spotlight. "The Place Beyond the Pines" is both unique and satisfying in the way it comes full circle and is so engrossing thanks to how lugubrious it is in nature.
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96 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Stunning. Amazing. Beautiful. Powerful. Genuinely Effective. That my friends is what can be said about The Place Beyond the Pines. I had been hearing very good things about this movie for a long time and today I finally got to watch it. My oh my what a movie. I have yet to see Man of Steel, American Hustle, or any other movie besides 42 that has really impressed me. But this is already one of the best films of 2013. Ryan Gosling took a big leap from his lackluster performance in Gangster Squad and gave a strong standout performance as Luke Glanton. Supporting cast includes Eva Mendes as Romina, Bradley Cooper(he is getting better with each role as an actor) as Avery Cross, Ray Liotta as Delucca who also did a great job (there has to be a guy everyone loves to hate) and Dane Dehaan (who is also a great actor for his age) as Jason Glanton. The whole cast did a beyond superb job. The Place Beyond the Pines makes you forget that the people in it are just characters; you generally come to care about and understand each and every one of the characters in the movie. I had the same feeling I had watching Cloud Atlas; the connections are there, the story is pretty self explanatory but you have to pay close attention to every detail. The Place Beyond the Pines itself has every emotion a movie like this should have: happiness, tragedy, understanding, etc. You can expect the unexpected with The Place Beyond the Pines. Stellar Cast, Powerful story line, and just an Extraordinary movie.

5 Stars
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I didn't understand the negative reviews of this movie. The performance at the box office was underwhelming for a Ryan Gosling/Bradley Cooper film, but this wasn't a big blockbuster type movie. It was beautifully written, beautifully shot, and wonderfully acted--everyone churned out a fabulous performance...and what about Ben Mendelsohn! I want to see him in more American movies. I like his face.

I really didn't get the criticism of Eva Mendez' performance in this film--she was great. Her acting was very subtle, as I think that it's the smallest nuances that stand out in a Derek Cianfrance film. This story is awesome--it doesn't go AT ALL where you expect it to. It's such a breath of fresh air from all the calculated films in Hollywood nowadays, those films that are written, directed, and acted with dollar signs in mind. This was art. And it just happened to be entertaining as well.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A beautifully shot film with nicely understated performances, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is a curious, experimental flick that never really rises above its own heavy-handedness. The film is essentially three short stories, one of which focuses on a circus performer turned bank robber (Gosling). His violent encounter with a young cop (Cooper) propels the film's second act into the life of that officer. The final third of of the film reveals how the lives of these two men, already inextricably intertwined, become even further entangled by their teenage sons.

The allegory of the film (the sins of the father are passed down to the son) is ponderous almost to distraction. Although told with patient, sumptuous detail, the characters never really seem much more than stereotypes. This may be because everything is done so quietly and subtly. It may also be because the script expects the potency of the situation to be enough to draw the heart. I don't know. All I know is the only person I felt sorry for was Romina (Eva Mendes), the only character to be truly likable and complex (and, of course, the character that gets dumped on more than any other...and that's saying a lot for a film that's as dismal as this one).

The rails really come off in the third act, when the film asks the audience to assume quite a bit about the teenage sons of these two flawed fathers. I won't go into too much detail to avoid spoilers, but I will say that Gosling's son appears to make decisions for no real reason. It seems like the movie is trying to say that there is something inescapable, something in the genes that propels him, but his behavior shifts radically and often. You can't even really blame it on puberty, since the shifts are way beyond even the wildest of teenage mood swings. It felt very much to me like the film just needed that thread of melodrama to keep on playing out, and it had no way to do it beyond highly exaggerated teenage angst.

I was planning on giving the film a solid three stars -- I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it -- until the final scene. Again, I'm avoiding spoilers here, but it was so gushingly symbolic, and so obviously attempting a kind of desperate palindromic poetry that it just felt like the movie was begging me to cry. Even worse, it didn't make a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme of things, and really all I could think of wasn't how deep and meaningful and powerful it was, but was how it was basically another stab in the side of the only character that provided me with any empathy: Mendes's Romina. The fact that the film relegates this powerful, complicated, long-suffering (much longer suffering than any of the male characters) female character to a footnote in the film in deference to this tired symbolism about fathers and sons was what finally annoyed me enough to drop my rating.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The Greeks believed that fate controlled us. Oedipus tried to escape his fate by taking certain actions, which, ironically, led him directly into the path of his ordained fate. My initial viewing led me to think fate was the controlling factor here, too. But not so. The characters try to change their fates, their futures and some are successful.

Why the title? "The Place Beyond the Pines"-- what's there that gives the film its title? A friend, a grounding, a source of history, some explanations, each an essential element of the story of Luke (Ryan Gosling, a superb actor), a daredevil carnival motorcycle rider, and his son Jason. The story covers about seventeen years in a hop-skip fashion and comes in three distinct acts: Luke the bank robber, Avery the police officer who changes Luke's future, and their two sons who intersect as teenagers.

(One note at this point: Gosling always plays the dangerous bad boys, Cooper the wide-eyed heroic types. Wouldn't it be interesting to see a role reversal here? Can Gosling lose his edginess to play the solid, stand-up guy? Can Cooper disguise those innocent eyes to be edgy?)

The film comes in three acts: Gosling as an irresponsible man, father, bank robber; Cooper as hero by quirk--or intention--of fate, momentary dirty cop, politician; and the intersection of their two sons 15 years later to move the fates forward.

The most interesting point of the film is seeing how Avery Cross's son turns out--and it's not pretty. What the viewer learns in Act Two is that Cross (Cooper) cannot look at his son after Act One (I am deliberately avoiding revealing important information). So he grows up neglected--and wow, what an obnoxious, malicious young man he is. On the other hand, Luke's son is just a typical boy, product of a family that stayed together, although he knows nothing about his birth father.

Just as Luke found himself a new mode in "The Place Beyond the Pines," Jason (his son) learns about his father from the same source. It's a place like the fig tree: safe but full of danger. Luke partook of danger, Jason took a little knowledge.

"A Place Beyond the Pines" is definitely worth seeing, worth the money, but I want to ask more of the actors, the director. Do Cross and his son really change in Act Three. Do people in general really change? And Jason: Why doesn't he keep the photo? Does he divorce himself from his old life and head out into a new future, a new destiny? That photo initiates new potentiality. It's an abrupt but fascinating ending, one of those that make you create your own ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2014
Format: DVD
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0

The film's title is loosely based on a Native American name for Schenectady, New York, where the story takes place. Director Derek Cianfrance's effort represents an improvement over his prior blue collar soap opera, 'Blue Valentine'. Here, his story is more ambitious, a triptych of sorts, focusing on a group of interconnected characters.

In Part 1 of 3, the strongest of the three stories, Ryan Gosling is Luke Blanton, a 'bad boy' motorcycle stuntman who quits his job in order to raise his one year old son who he fathered with a former flame, Romina. Much to his chagrin, she's now involved with another man, Kofi, and wants nothing to do with him.

Luke soon befriends Robin, a former bank robber and now owner of a small auto repair business, who suggests that a good way to provide for his son, is to rob banks. Gosling does a fine job in depicting our resident psychopath as he goes about terrorizing bank customers and brutally assaulting Romina's boyfriend with a wrench after he brings a crib over for the baby at the boyfriend's residence (the assault results in Luke's arrest). Everything is rationalized in the name of being a 'good father' and Luke's violent behavior keeps escalating. When Robin wants out of the bank robbery business he dismantles Luke's motorcycle but Luke sticks a gun in his mouth and confiscates the bail money which Robin had laid out.

Part 2 (not as good as Part 1) begins when Luke reaches the end of the line after being caught in the act of his final bank robbery. He ends up in a residential home where we're introduced to the new protagonist, PO Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), who shoots Luke before he gets his own shot off, hitting Cross in the knee. Luke then falls out the window and bleeds to death on the pavement below.

There seems to be some question as to whether Avery was justified in shooting Luke, especially because he gave him no chance to surrender. At the same time, things happened so fast, that Avery probably had a good case in arguing the shooting was completely justified, since it was quite probable that Luke was armed and could have shot him right away (and as it turned out, Luke indeed was armed and did fire his gun, but only after Avery shot him first). As it turns out, an internal police investigation exonerates Avery but he remains guilt-ridden simply because he killed a fellow human being. Avery even tells a police psychologist that he can't stop thinking about Luke's son when he looks at his own son.

It seems odd that Avery would go along with the two crooked fellow officers, Scotty and Deluca, who confiscate Luke's bank robbery stash from underneath Romina's son's crib. They gave him the lion's share and we soon find out why Avery goes along: he offers Romina all of his share back, but she refuses. What happens next didn't seem believable at all. Avery decides to rat out his fellow officers by going to the chief of police. Now why wouldn't Avery realize that the chief of police is just as bad as his fellow officers and would end up telling them about his decision to report their illegal actions? This is borne out when Deluca asks Avery to follow him in his car and he complies, until it suddenly dawns on him (duh!), this is an ambush (wouldn't anyone with any common sense have figured out what was going down?).

Avery seemingly has a way out when he records another officer who's trying to steal drugs from the police property room where Avery is now relegated to. Avery uses the tape to blackmail the DA who is forced to prosecute all the corrupt cops. We're asked to flash forward 15 years but wouldn't Avery still be in danger? Yes, all the cops have been jailed but I'm sure they have plenty of friends in town who might want to get back at him (and what about when the cops get out of jail later on?). So again, would any normal person put their trust in a police chief who is suspect from the get-go?

Part 3 focuses on Avery's teenage son, AJ who unknowingly befriends Luke's son, Jason, while they're students together in high school. AJ's parents are now divorced and he appears to be severely influenced by gang culture. Unfortunately, there's only one scene which shows the interaction between father and son (Avery confronts AJ after he's arrested for assaulting Jason). So why did AJ turn out the way he did? Not explained. We're asked to assume that Avery's quest to become state attorney keeps him away from acting as a good parent.

Even less convincing is Jason's quest to take revenge on Avery. He never had any connection to Luke and only learns about him from talking to Robin and reading old newspaper clippings. Furthermore, Romina and Kofi appear to have been good parents. I can see why he wants to get back at AJ (whose initial assault on him was particularly brutal) but why Avery? Perhaps it's just a teenager's impulsivity but Avery's reaction where he gets down on his knees and begs forgiveness just seems over the top. It goes all the way back to when Avery shot Luke--should he have felt that guilty? To my mind, he was doing his job as a police officer; and had Luke not robbed banks and broken into someone's house, Avery would not have had to shoot Luke in the first place.

Director Cianfrance aims high here and manages to keep one's interest throughout. Nonetheless, only the first story, the chronicle of the psychopath Luke, proves compelling. Avery and the two boys are not developed well enough and let's not even discuss the female characters. 'Pines' is no masterpiece but is still worth a look!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 21, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The place beyond the pines is a movie about a motorcycle stunt rider who turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his ex-girlfriend and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.

The film initially concentrates on Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) and his relationship to his ex Romina (Eva Mendez)then later on switches to the rising star cop (Bradley Cooper) and then later on to both men's sons as their worlds cross. Thrown in for good measure is the corrupt cop in the force played like always Ray Liotta.

This story has a lot of potential but I found out as I watched that it seems to get lost in itself and seems to wonder into the forest that it is trying to display. The story meanders on at times and the character development seems to be a bit flat and unmoving.

The story is an intriguing one and has some decent performances from Gosling, Mendez and Liotta but the movie is a bit too long, gets lost and drags on a bit too much, concentrating on some aspects of the film too much and lacking in others and seemingly throwing some other elements in for good measure. To me, I thought the bike robbing father could have been its own movie without the rest and would have probably stood up better on its on. I am not so sure why they threw in the corrupt cop thing as it seemingly was a small part of the movie and was just kind of left out there with the passage of time. And when it came to the teenagers and the movie ending, I didn't really feel any emotion because the development of any sentiment towards them wasn't there for me especially since the initial character was troubled and pretty unlikeable from the very beginning.

The movie itself is a decent watch but fell short of what I thought could have been a great overall story that brought you in and made you feel something. In the end, I just felt disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 16, 2013
Format: DVD
Ryan Gosling once again blisters the screen as a loner who works as a motorcycle stunt man in a travelling carnival. Set in Schenectady in upstate New York, Luke (Gosling) runs into Romina (Eva Mendes) with whom he had a brief fling on his visit a year ago. As it turns out, she and he also have a baby boy. Previously unaware, Luke decides to stay, get a job and help out financially. Gumming up the works however is the fact that Romina has moved on and is living with a new man.

Working as a mechanic, Luke is getting little work so he and his boss (Ben Mendelsohn) decide to rob a bank. They get away with it, but Luke starts getting greedy and decides to go it alone. He pulls one job too many. In an unusually authentic chase scene between a couple police cars and Luke on his motorcycle, Luke is finally cornered in a house. The cop who has found him is a rookie with a law degree (Bradley Cooper). With another strong performance by Cooper, the film shifts gears as the two men exchange gunfire. Avery (Cooper), seriously injured is marked as a hero. But it doesn't sit well with him, especially given that he has a son the same age as Luke and Romina. Things get more complicated as Avery's police friends harass Romina in an effort to find the cash that Luke had stolen.

The film then jumps ahead 15 years. Avery has become the District Attorney and is running for Attorney General. His now 17 year old son A.J. (Emory Cohen) comes to live with him again after a long divorce. He's a druggie and befriends Jason (Dane DeHaan), the son of, you guessed it, Romina and Luke.

The movie is beautifully shot and logical in its display of events. It is too long however clocking in at 2 hours and 20 minutes. The final act in particular seemed to tell us what we already know. This is a minor gripe in what is one of the best movies of the year so far. The film's title comes from the Mohawk translation for Schenectady.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
A tale of loners and drifters, lawmen and delinquents, this movie first grabs your heart and then burns it. It's a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare.

It stars Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper as two fathers, each with a son the same age. Their lives only cross once, for a brief moment, but that meeting ripples across a generation.

All the performances are exceptional. Gosling and Cooper deliver like always. Eva Mendez is surprisingly good as the mother who can only watch what happens to her baby and her baby's father. The kids that portray the two sons play their roles to perfection.

This is an intimate epic about sins of the fathers and sins of the sons. It's about choices, and how we handle the consequences of those choices - not only our own, but also the choices of those we love.
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