Finally getting around to some more reviews. My January resolution of 10 posts a month has failed spectacularly! Anyway, above is the latest Joe Blann picture round masterpiece from the Duke's at Komedia film quiz - Hold Onto Your Butts (first Thursday of every month). Below are some reviews.
'The Place Beyond the Pines' - Dir. Derek Cianfrance (15)
High expectations for Derek Cianfrance's epic follow-up to 'Blue Valentine' were undermined by my increasingly aggressive indifference to the growing hipster cult of Ryan Gosling. But, for reasons that become clear about a third of a way in, 'The Place Beyond the Pines' isn't really the spiritual successor to 'Drive' it's been marketed as in some places, on account of "the Gos" playing an ace motorcyclist-turned-criminal. It's much better than that: a cross-generational tale of fathers and sons - of consequences and regrets. Ambitious, sprawling and never less than compelling. It's the tale of one ostensibly bad man who will do anything for his son, even if it means breaking the law. And one clean-cut good-guy who will do his utmost to defend the law even if it means neglecting his son. There's more to it than that, especially in the third act, but it's an interesting central dichotomy.
Visually it's stunning, as shot by Steve McQueen's regular DP Sean Bobbitt, and somehow structurally tight in a way that belies its long running time. Factor in the fact that both Gosling and the recently Oscar-nominated Bradley Cooper are on top, career-defining form and it's potentially a modern American indie classic. It's not the crime thriller a lot of people will be expecting (it's really a fairly patient and introspective drama), yet 'Pines' isn't for want of horribly tense moments or spectacular sequences - notably a one-take car chase shot from the perspective of police cars in pursuit of Gosling's motorcycle. To say much more about it at this point would be to risk spoiling it, so I'll just leave it there for now.
'Finding Nemo (3D)' - Dir. Andrew Stanton (U)
It's not really a new release as far as I'm, concerned, so I'll keep it extremely brief. Andrew Stanton's classic - one of the vintage Pixar films - returns to cinemas, and I was delighted to find it was as funny and charming as the first time around. The gags come thick and fast, and range from the knock-about and silly, to the existential and witty, and more often than not they work. The animation and attention to detail - particularly the work the animators have done acting the various characters facially (no small ask considering all the characters are still recognisably fish) - is terrific and still holds up very well, even given Pixar's constant boundary pushing in the decade(!) since the film's original release. The 3D isn't really noticeable in all honesty so, given the damage the process seems to do to the vividness of the colours, I'd have rather seen it re-released in 2D. But don't let that put you off: like I say, It's barely noticeable - though that does call into question being asked to pay extra for the privilege...
Also, on a related note, the new 'Toy Story' short that precedes the film is really, really funny. Probably the best one yet - and a perfect antidote to 'Spring Breakers' (you'll know what I mean if you've seen it).