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TIFF 2016 Review: Una (2016)

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Una (2016)

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The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

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Deceptively intricate and performed infallibly. Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is morally sound and inevitably cyclic. Encompassing a complex set of circumstances marred by incalculable chaos. The Place Beyond the Pines is irrefutable evidence that history is inescapable. Now, whether or not we chose to look upon this unavoidable repetition as beneficial, dooming, or simply as fate itself, is entirely subjected to the nature and nurture  of our upbringing to the very present moment we have watched this film. Cianfrance has laid out multiple paths that we are allowed to tread along. The decision however, lies within our beliefs, karmic standpoint, and stance on true freedom. Featuring an all star cast that includes, Ryan Gosling, Ben Mendelsohn, Bruce Greenwood, Bradley Cooper, Rose Bryne, Ray Liotta, Dane DeHaan, and Eva Mendes. Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is a highly philosophical, towering achievement in understanding the makings of a generation fuelled by loss, regret, and deprivation.

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Luke (Gosling) is a talented and mischievous motorcycle stuntman who travels with a carnival, currently stopped in Schenectady, New York. Luke is trying to reconnect with his past lover named Romina (Mendes). Romina secretly gave birth to Luke’s son and neglected to tell him as he was travelling with the carnival for the past year. In order to provide for his new baby and Romina, Luke quits the carnival and commits a series of bank robberies with his friend Robin (Mendelsohn). As Luke continues to raise the stakes, the more heat he is under. After a robbery, Luke is confronted with a chase to escape the clutches of a persistent police officer named Avery Cross (Cooper). Avery is confronted with his own tribulations as he soon realizes his police force is ripe with corruption and his marriage to Jennifer (Byrne) is faltering. Fifteen years down the road, Luke and Avery’s paths continue to cross.

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It is excessively challenging to navigate a film with several, individual story lines. When stitching together a film as complex as Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, you run the risk of overbearing the audience. The multiple motivations, principles, and circumstantial elements the viewer needs to consider while deciphering impressions could very well prove too disproportionate. However, with The Place Beyond the Pines, this is not the case. Cianfrance’s ability to extract only what is essential from his cast and divide the disarray into manageable portions is a harrowing achievement. For a film that is packed with calamity and discord, there is never a feeling of disorganization. You’ll never have the urge to scramble. You’ll create a complete, unhampered opinion of the characters.

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A rather unexpected fault I originally found with this film is the indifference I felt towards Bradley Cooper’s character. Then, after some time had passed, I came to the conclusion that it was and is the way I am supposed to feel towards him. It was alarming at first because of the compassion and sympathy I was able to emit for Ryan Gosling’s character. When looked at comparatively, Gosling and Cooper play relatively the same role, the only difference is they’re at opposite ends of the moral chain. Both have made grave errors in their time, do whatever is necessary to keep themselves alive, and relentlessly provide for their families. Now, some will undoubtedly share similar opinions to my own and some will relate to Cooper more earnestly then Gosling. The point is that their isn’t an issue with who’ve you found favour in.

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In a similar fashion, the viewer will be polarized by Gosling’s son and Cooper’s. I generally felt a deep hatred for Cooper’s son for not respecting the opportunities and benefits he has in front of him. Conversely, Gosling’s son was very loyal and charged with an ambitious, thirsty energy. So I full heartedly despised Cooper’s son for his idiotic behaviour and not relishing what he has available to him. I’m supposed to be summarizing the casts performances, gotten a bit sidetracked. I suppose I am reviewing subconsciously and that this personal dissection is probably the best way to influence your opinion regarding this film.

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In comparison to Gosling, Cooper did not measure up. For his segment, Cooper had arguably been set up for disappointment. Following up a masterful performance is never easy. However, having one of your top actors be slightly over performed by another is a great problem to have. Ben Mendelsohn has slowly creeped his way to becoming one of my favourite actors currently active. His performances in The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly, and now The Place Beyond the Pines are staggering. It seems with each outing he becomes more confident and orbited. Another actor who has had a terrific rise is Dane DeHaan. After contributing to the misunderstood Lawless and surprising Chronicle, DeHaan certainly left his mark in The Place Beyond the Pines. Rose Byrne continues to prove why she is one of the hottest actresses in cinema today. A heartbreaking performance alongside a disgruntled Cooper is no easy feat. In their limited time, Bruce Greenwood and Ray Liotta wielded their experience in spectacular fashion. It’s remarkable how Liotta can just stare at you and its almost enough to make you wet yourself in fear. In a film littered with outstanding performances, Eva Mendes is passable. Now, it isn’t as recognizable because the viewer is focused in on everything thats going on. But, this was a supreme opportunity for her to prove herself alongside these acting heavyweights and she didn’t fully grasp the chance.

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Besides an impeccable effort in controlling the vast and multifaceted stories in The Place Beyond the Pines. Cianfrance infuses an enthralling atmosphere to a suggestive and emotionally dark film. With an invested and talented cast, an unprecedented script, and a director brave enough to undertake it. The Place Beyond the Pines is a rare blend of bravery, sacrifice, and judgement.

The Place Beyond the Pines: 9 out of 10.

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Just a quick review, I am off to see Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D soon so I don’t have a lot of time. Enjoy!

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All this time has passed since its release and I am still not dead set on how I feel about Killing Them Softly. It is definitely one of the more questionable releases of 2012 as it never did fully live up to expectations. Boasting a strong cast, clever, politically driven material, and a respected director. Killing Them Softly was hotly anticipated but through this, was arguably set up for failure. However, it isn’t the complete disaster most have made it out to be.  The glaring inconsistency with Killing The Softly is it cannot balance as it sits on the fence. There isn’t any issue with a film digging depth under its superficial exterior. But the accuracy and ferociousness of its violence, abuse, both mentally and physically overshadows its economic message to the point of abandonment. Killing Them Softly is a taste of blunt force, dark comedy, and political satire, but doesn’t lean on their cohesiveness. Instead, it lets each trait trail into independent dependency.

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The criminal economy crashes when three masked man steal the cash from unsanctioned card games in the local area. The men work for Trattman (Liotta), who also runs the games. When time passes, Trattman reveals that he was the one who robbed his own event. When the games are raided again by Frankie (McNairy) and Russell (Mendelsohn), the assumption is that Trattman has repeated his actions. Jackie (Pitt) is called in by the mafia and is informed by Driver (Jenkins), who works for the organization of the situation. Knowing he needs to regain the confidence of the local crime organizations and find the culprits of the second robbery, Jackie sets out to restore balance.

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I can’t deny that Killing Them Softly’s intriguing premise, bleak hilarity, and unrelenting brutality isn’t enough to save it from tumbling into a mediocrity inferno, because it is. The dark, sometimes raunchy laughs and detail in the onslaught are the most consistent aspects of the entire film. While the political influence is present throughout, its relevance and effect are limited. Top performers are Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy, and obviously Brad Pitt. McNairy and Mendelsohn are a hilarious duo who, despite the similarities, are quite the contrast. Pitt once again makes everything appear effortless. Andrew Dominik does an interesting job behind the camera. At times it feels as if he is completely lost, but redeems himself with slowed, atmospheric shots and unique angles. Killing Them Softly might not be the crime drama everyone envisioned. But its economic stance, fierceness, and satirical comedy put it a notch above most thrillers.

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Killing Them Softly: 7.5 out of 10.