The Place Beyond the Pines

I didn't understand the characters' motivations for a lot of The Place Beyond the Pines, but the cinematography was nice, the music worked, and I really liked the triptych format and being able to find out what happened sort of "after" the movie.

I liked the way this movie looked. It was kind of old-school/gritty, but it was really well-shot. The music was interesting, and I liked the format of the movie, how it started out with Luke's story, and then the "passing of the baton," as the director put it, changing to Avery's story, and then AJ/Jason's. I liked that we got to see what happened with their kids, kind of what happens "after" the movie. That's one of the main reasons I was interested in seeing it.

It was a total shock when Luke died. I had no idea that was going to happen. It was good, though, because Luke was crazy and going nowhere. Most of the stuff he did made no sense; robbing the bank, telling Ro he wanted to leave with her, showing up unannounced all the time, hitting Kofi, wanting to rob more banks. I really couldn't relate to his character at all. And it was totally unrealistic to have Robin show up out of nowhere and offer him a place to live. I guess he was just lonely, though. The scene with the cop chasing Luke was great. It was full of energy. The director said his inspiration was the TV show Cops, and you could definitely feel that. It was an accident when the stunt driver crashed into the barrier, but I'm glad he did, because that was a great moment.

I felt really bad for Avery when he got stuck not wanting to be a bad cop but not having anywhere to turn, not knowing what authority he could trust. He wasn't a very sympathetic character before that, though. It was hard to get a handle on what he was like. And he didn't seem like much of a nice guy after that, either.

I wonder if Deluca was going to kill him in the woods? It seemed like he was. Maybe he just wanted to scare him, though. The whole thing was a bad situation for sure. I knew Deluca was trouble the minute I saw his face. I was like, "that guy is bad news. You should stay away from that guy, whoever he is." Avery was crazy for asking to be made lieutenant, though. You can't just go straight from beat cop to lieutenant even if you did pass the bar exam. There are a lot of steps in between.

I felt bad for Jason, too, getting mixed up with AJ. You could tell he wanted out, but he didn't know what to do. It wasn't realistic for the drugs to be so accessible. No pharmacy is like that. They wouldn't be able to keep anything in stock, it'd all be getting stolen constantly. The movie kind of lost me with Jason and AJ. I don't know why Jason would want to beat up AJ just because Avery killed Luke. It's not like he was in on it. I guess Jason thought he was. I didn't get why he would come after him with a gun, either, but I guess he felt threatened and cornered. I guess it makes sense now, but it was kind of confusing during the movie. I'm glad he didn't kill Avery. It wasn't necessary.

It was pretty unrealistic that Jason was able to find out about Luke just by Googling his name. Sure Luke was kind of a big deal 15 years ago, getting killed and all, but still. I can never find the actual person I'm looking for even when I include key words that shoud help. I didn't like that the picture they used of Luke, Jason and Ro was the one with his hand over her eyes. It just seemed weird.

I didn't think Ro was doing the right thing with Kofi. She slept with Luke, so I feel like she didn't love Kofi and she was just using him. It's a tough choice, but I don't think it was right. She did stay with him, though, so maybe the thing with Luke was just a mistake.

I didn't really get what "the place beyond the pines" was, though. Was it the place where Deluca and Jason took Avery? Was it Robin's garage? Was it just Schenectady? They should've titled it something that referred back to the theme.

The director said the theme was about heritage, and passing things on, and the same lives being lived over and over. He said he was inspired by rings on a tree. It's an interesting theme, and it definitely comes through. The original cut of the movie was three and a half hours long. I think a lot of interesting stuff probably got cut. I wouldn't mind seeing it. Maybe it would've been cool to do the triptych as three movies.

I felt like there weren't really any truly likeable characters in the movie for me, because they all did something bad, except for Kofi, but he was really a side character. It kept me from liking the movie. There's the whole argument to be made for "I like grey characters, it's more realistic," but that's not usually how I like things. I like the bad guys to have good things; it makes them more well-rounded. But I don't like the good guys to do bad things. But the director was talking about it, and he said he's never met somebody that's all good, or all evil; it's not how people are. And I guess that's true. I just have to look at it as more of a realistic movie. And in real life, good people do bad things all the time. It just happens. It doesn't mean you're a bad person. It's something I've heard tons of times and seen represented as a theme in movies tons of times, but I guess this movie just didn't sit right with me in that aspect until I saw the commentary. 

The entire commentary is pretty interesting. Just about everything the director said was worth relating. It's definitely something to check out if you liked/have any interest in the movie at all.

Ryan suggested Eva for the role, and it was his idea to have all the tattoos. He wanted to go for "most tattoos ever in a movie." He thought it would be a really cool idea to have the face tattoo, but after the first day of shooting he regretted it and wanted to reshoot without it. The director told him the movie is about consequences, and wouldn't let him take it off, so every time he did a scene, instead of feeling like a cool guy, he just felt this sense of regret.

Ryan actually bonded with the baby, and it wasn't scripted for the baby to start crying after Luke hit Kofi, but he just did, and then he really just calmed down when Ryan picked him up because he was so comfortable around him. It turns out Eva really started crying during the picture-taking scene, and Ryan just put his hand over her eyes like that. The director said it was "chivalrous." I guess that's nice, but I still wouldn't have used that picture.

I wondered why Ryan's voice was so high/hoarse when he was robbing the bank for the first time, and it turns out the director used tellers who had actually been robbed before, and they weren't scared by Ryan at all, so he had to keep doing the scene over and over and try to scare them. The director said he talked to some bank robbers, and they felt really desperate during robberies, and he felt like Ryan actually reached that level of desperation when he couldn't scare the tellers.

Ryan actually always wanted to rob a bank, and he said he would do it on a motorcycle and drive it into a truck, because nobody'd be looking for a truck, they'd be looking for a motorcycle. And the director said, I'm writing a movie right now where that's what the character does. It's pretty crazy that Ryan had thought about doing that.

I have a better sense of the movie, the themes, and what they were going for after seeing the commentary. That's usually how it is. But how I felt after just seeing the movie is valid, too. The director said at the end, they decided not to kill Avery because they didn't want it to be a movie about revenge. They thought about having Jason kill himself, but it wasn't a movie about suicide. They decided it was about forgiveness, and the freedom of forgiveness, and Jason living out his father's dream of freedom, and reaching "the place beyond the pines," which was actually leaving Schenectady. I guess that's nice.

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