Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Reasonably effective drama - in three parts of roughly equal length.
First, involving Ryan Gosling, as a stunt motorbike rider, simmering like a volcano ready to erupt violently at the slightest provocation, allured into robbing a bank and quickly getting a taste for it and embarking on a robbery spree so that he can support his estranged lover and their one year-old son..
Second, Bradley Cooper as an honest policeman who unknowingly gets pulled into a corrupt cop circle - and who then extricates himself by framing others, while not averse to pulling a fast one himself to advance his career.
The third segment, 15 years on from the last, mainly concerns the now teenage sons of the main characters in the first two parts, from whence disturbing consequences follow.

I found it quite an unsettling film, which it was surely intended to be, never knowing which way it would turn. Hardly anyone in the current generation of film big-names can simmer as dangerously as Ryan Gosling, and this he does to perfection here. With him around I was quite concerned for the welfare of a dog which features in a little of this first part, but it turned out that there was no need to worry.
The connection between the first and second parts is incidental but it turns out to be a strategic one, coming to fruition in the third and, for me, the weakest part. Bradley Cooper, plays his inner-conflicted yet risk-taking part every bit as well as Gosling. Eva Mendes does well to hold the three parts together.

There has been a significant number of recent films which have come and gone but which I badly wanted to see but, through circumstances, I wasn't able to attend. When I saw the reviews of this one I felt it could be something remarkable so I really had to make a super-human effort to go, despite having to limp over a mile X 2, and only returning at dusk. In the event, although feeling that it was pretty good, it hadn't quite merited all the strain and pain I'd put into seeing it. But I'm reasonably satisfied that, at the very least, my curiosity was satisfied................................6.5/10


  1. I was looking forward to your review of this Ray. First because the reviews I read universally raved about it, also because I love Ryan Gosling and I've liked just about everything he has been in, and lastly because he and the director worked so well together in Blue Valentine. I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't "amazing" although the three parts sounded a bit strange to me - almost like three short films, loosely related?
    Sorry to hear of your struggles - feel better.

    1. Good for you...that's dedication to moviegoing
      Look after yourself.
      I will be going to see this

    2. Craig, I feel I really missed out on something in not catching 'Blue Valentine' as that too had almost entirely positive reviews, just like this one.

      Yes, the three parts of this film are linked, though chance does come into play. Difficult to say much more for fear of giving too much away.
      Ryan Gosling is a formidable talent, excelling in the recent 'Drive' - and his chain-smoking in his part of this film only underlines the unattractiveness of his well-played character, at least for me.

      It is a film of unusual construction, though nothing wrong with that. But, as I say, the first two parts were distinctly stronger for me, which rather unbalanced the overall effect.

      Craig & J.G. - thanks for your thoughts on my well-being. A foot problem has flared up with a sensitive and painful area of one of the soles, near the toes, being particularly painful to put pressure on. After seeing the diabetes nurse this morning for my periodic routine examination she's suggested how it might be alleviated. Only hope it'll work, and quickly, as walking unnecessarily is a thing I prefer to avoid right now.

  2. I am so sorry to hear that you are having health problems. Feel better soon.

    I am happy that you saw this film. If you remember, several months ago I wrote that I was looking forward to this film because it was filmed in the city where I live. Amazed that it arrived across the pond so quickly as it just premiered here last Thursday. The only star that showed up was Bradley Cooper because he was filming in Boston which is only about a three hour drive. But it was a huge event for this city.

    Needless to say, I am excited about seeing this (Friday evening) not only for the two hotties, Gosling & Cooper, but to see all the familiar scenes.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Paul. I'm feeling fine in myself (my latest test results are good), it's just that walking at the moment is painful. Hopefully, with regularly daily bathing of the right foot and a more liberal and frequent application of cream it will reduce or even go away - or so the nurse suggests.

      I now remember what you said about it being filmed in your city - but it did need you to remind me.

      I'd certainly describe B.C. as a 'hottie', though not sure that R.G. would qualify in my terms - though he is a brilliant actor.
      You certainly ought to recognise the banks they used in the film, at least from the outside, though maybe inside them too. Not sure there were really a lot of exterior scenes (apart from chasing the motor bike, perhaps). Not many have stuck in my memory, though as you've got a 'peg' to hang them on they might mean more to you.

      After Friday, do come back here and tell us what you thought of the film. I hope you'll be saying that you appreciated it more than I did.

  3. Paul beat me to it: I once lived in Schenectady, now only work here, but I'm next door to the theater it premiered at this past week. I might have to be a local-geek and see it just to pick out all the locales :-)

    Feel better, sir!

    1. When I saw the name of the place in the film, S/b, a little bell went off in my head without knowing quite why - and now I know. You have indeed mentioned it before in your blogs.
      I should have thought your connections would have made you eager to see the film yourself, but if you know someone who can do the groundwork for you at least you know if it'll be worth forking out any dosh for the 'experience'.

      Thanks for your final thought, S/b. My foot problem comes and goes - at this very moment it's on the minor end of the nuisance scale, but could flare up again anytime. But thanks.

  4. I'll confess this is one I would see if only for the eye candy. Ryan Gosling AND Bradley Cooper? Oh my.

    1. I certainly would second your opinion on B.C., H.K. Less so about the other one, who is a fine actor, probably even the better of the two, but who does much less for me in the 'hottie' stakes.

  5. Your rating for "Pines" is in agreement with most other reviews. The exception being our local newspaper which awarded it 4 stars. I found this surprising as they are very hard on films. An example of this would be "Anna Karenina" - 1 star. I believe most reviews are subjective and contain the viewers own experiences, feelings and opinions. I say this because I admit that I probably am not being objective in my opinion of this film.

    The film is not perfect - a little bit flawed. The transition between the second and third act is lame. Bradley Cooper: We all know what he can do with the release of "Silver Linings" but Bradley plays his character without depth. On the other hand, Ryan delivers a beautifully acted performance as he always does, the exception being "Gangster Squad."

    This film is a treat for those of us who live here: real tv station, real street names, real hospital, real banks, real diner and a neighboring village.

    I thoroughly enjoyed myself at this movie and it was a delight to go and have lunch at the diner shown in the film and discuss our thoughts. This will probably never happen again.

    1. You had a very special angle on this, Paul, so I'm not in the least surprised that you got much more out of it. I agree totally that opinions must, almost by definition, be 'subjective' - and I would never claim that my own views of a film can be anything near being OBjective. It would be dull, not to say arrogant, to claim that they could be.

      I agree with what you say about the linking of parts 1 & 2, though even in the first part I found it a struggle to see R.G. beyond that ever-present cigarette, something I also had trouble with in my long-since-past bar-cruising days. But that's just me.
      Yes, B.C.'s character was shallow, though I thought he did play his encroaching being corrupted very well and convincingly.
      I thought the third part was so different from the rest as to be from almost another film.

      Never had the experience of seeing a film that had been made in a place where I had lived, at least other than London - and (if you ever got it) T.V.'s 'Inspector Morse', actually made in Oxford during the years I lived there, though I didn't watch them till after I'd left.

      It must have been fun going to that diner, which I still remember - and which I know you'll be going back to again. I was also wondering if they'd used one of the banks where your own account his housed.
      I'm certain that you'll be watching this film again - and maybe again.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Very interesting. I like it when my own opinion is challenged, even gently as you did.

      Oh, and btw: Just the ONE star for 'Anna K.? That really makes me gasp!

  6. Ray, You were wondering if they used one of the banks where my account is housed. The answer is no. However, the older bank shown is located in the village, across the bridge, where I once lived. The other bank is located about five minutes from me and the dinner, which is in another direction, is about ten minutes away. Also, I don't remember if I ever mentioned it, but when they were filming, I did get a brief glimpse of Ryan.

    Here is where you and I disagree. I found Ryan's smoking oh so sexy - but that is just me.

    1. Well I can see how the film had a personal resonance for you, Paul. I think you did say that you'd had fleeting sight of R.G., which must have been very satisfying for you with your being such a fan.
      Maybe I might have appreciated the latter more in this film had I had a few drinks first. That is the ploy I used to adopt in smoky leather bars where, once I was at least half-sozzled, an attractive guy who was also smoking didn't bother me half as much as when I was sober.