Derek Cianfrance only has 3 films to his name, only two of which are even available on home video at this point, but he’s established himself as a director to pay attention to.
Kees van Dijkhuizen Jr. made himself known with his year end retrospective and [the films of] series of super cut videos. Now he’s turned his attention to Cianfrance in what I sincerely hope is the first of a new series of videos called “Insight: Derek Cianfrance” in which clips from both _Blue Valentine_ and _The Place Beyond The Pines_ are edited together with commentary narration from Cianfrance himself.
The end result is a tidy little sum up of some of the filmmakers inspirations, voice, and goals with filmmaking which you should watch. So let’s do that!
I have a lot I’d like to say about The Place Beyond the Pines but I can’t because it would spoil the plot and that would diminish your enjoyment of this great film. Yes, it’s great and you should see it. Derek Cianfrance has assembled a feature of great power and thought and you should see it.
In fact, that’s the TL;DR version of this review. It’s great. Go watch it before you read this. I’m going to avoid saying anything that would spoil the plot but there’s plenty beyond the plot to spoil and I feel you’d go into this best if you go into it blind.
So go. I’ll wait here. Last chance. Ok good.
The Place Beyond The Pines is a fantastic film about fathers and sons and they’re influence on one another and about sins and feelings that are passed from one generation to another. It follows Handsome Luke (Ryan Gosling), a motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robber, and Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a rookie cop who ends up involved in his case, and their relationship with their respective sons.
To say it’s a powerful film would be the understatement of the year. Gosling and Cooper as the two leads both give tremendous performances as characters under stresses they never anticipated and circumstances they’ve put themselves in.
Gosling, as with previous performances in Drive and earlier films such as The Believer seems to have mastered the art of calm, quiet rage. The rage in this case comes explicitly from his circumstance and implied self loathing rather than from an unexplored backstory.
Cooper by contrast manages to convey his characters barely covered guilt and fear with a visceral realism, and I can’t help but be reminded that he was nominated for an Oscar last year.
Both these men I am sure will win all the accolades they deserve in the next few years.
Following them is their sons, and Dane DeHaan playing Luke’s son Jason. This kid is going places. He hasn’t been in much, but between this and Chronicle the kid has some chops and I expect he’ll be one of the next big kids on the block.
The supporting cast, rounded out by Ben Mendelsohn, Mahershala Ali and Eva Mendes is pretty stellar as well. I wish Ben Mendelsohn has more to do in the film but that’s a minor quibble.
All of this is of course due largely because of Cianfrance’s directorial style. Much of the film is filmed in long single shot takes shot with unsteadied cameras. The desired effect of this –which often does not work– is to create a more intimate feeling for the film. In this case it works incredibly well, creating the feeling of being right there beside the characters as they are going through their trials.
Further, while many films will have a character (or two) explicitly state the moral or message of the film, Cianfrance elects to show instead of tell; the characters actions inform us rather than the script and i very much appreciate a film that trusts it’s audience in this way.
Cianfrane has only directed 3 features so far, and only two of those have released wide, but he can count myself as a major fan moving forward. This film is ambitious in it’s message and scope and it pulls it off on all fronts.
This [one of the films I’ve been most looking forward to this year](http://awesomefriday.ca/2013/01/matts-most-anticipated-of-2013/) and I’m happy to report that it’s the first one to knock it right out of the park.
2012 was one of the best years for film that I can remember and I’m honestly hoping that 2013 meets or beats it in terms of number of quality releases, and more importantly in the quality of those releases. There’s a lot coming out this year so here’s the ten that I am looking forward to most.
I’m listing these in order of release and not order of anticipation, partly because I find them hard to rank but mostly because I am looking forward to them all for different reasons.
And with that, here are the movies I am most looking forward to this year.
### Gangster Squad (11 January)
I’ve actually been waiting for this since last year since its original 2012 release was pushed after the Aurora Shooting.
Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn in an old school cops vs. gangsters film is a hard recipe to screw up. I love the cast, I love the premise, and while director Rueben Fleischer has only made a couple of films, they were both good and he’s made a host of music videos and commercials which were also good.
I worry about the [re-shoots that happened following Aurora last year](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangster_Squad#Association_with_the_2012_Aurora_shooting) but not very much considering the scene had just been relocated and re-staged rather than excised entirely.
### The Place Beyond The Pines (29 March)
Yes, another Ryan Gosling movie. It’s true: I’m a fan of the baby goose. More than that though, I’m a fan of Ryan Gosling because he’s a great actor.
Gosling previously teamed with director Derek Cianfrance in 2010s _Blue Valentine_ and in that film both Gosling and co-star Michelle Williams knocked it right outta the park. Seriously, if you haven’t seen that movie just go find it and watch it (but be aware, it has some hard to watch scenes).
Ryan Gosling playing a stunt bike rider robbing banks to provide for his son while being chased by Bradley Cooper as a cop mixed up with some crooked colleagues? It’s an intriguing set up and one I can’t wait to see.
### 42 (12 April)
I’ll admit this one is a bit of a wild card pick; chalk it up to my love of baseball. On the other hand this is the story of a modern American legend in Jackie Robinson and it’s being directed by Brian Helgeland, the guy who wrote _L.A. Confidential_, _A Knights Tale_ and _Mystic River_. There’s a lot to like about that fact alone but when you add in Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey (the guy who dared to sign Jackie Robinson in an era when racism was still an OK thing) things get more interesting.
Chadwick Boseman is a relative newcomer here, but if this works out this could be a star turn for him and I’m always interested in seeing that.
### Iron Man 3 (3 May)
I’m a huge Marvel geek and I’m a huge fan of their grand experiment to bring comic book continuity to the big screen. If you’ve been paying attention you may have already [gotten this impression](http://awesomefriday.ca/2013/01/matts-best-of-2012/ “Matt’s Best of 2012”).
Robert Downey Jr. is among the best cast of the Marvel Heroes currently on screen and it’ll be a pleasure seeing him as Tony Stark again. Hell, even in the kind of boring Iron Man 2 he was fun to watch and with Shane Black directing and Don Cheadle returning as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine one can only assume that there’ll be some great “buddy cop” kind of sequences as they battle the armoured bad guys.
Sir Ben Kingsley is playing the Mandarin, a character with supernatural powers in the comics, so it will be cool to see how they reconcile that with the technological world of Iron Man (that is, does he even have his powers or are The Ten Rings from Iron Man all he controls or will they be technological or what?).
Another exciting tidbit is that the story is based on _Extremis_ by Warren Ellis, which is one of my favourite Iron Man stories and sees Tony Stark go through some interesting stuff.
Plus, this is the first film in Marvel’s second phase so I’m looking forward to seeing if I can pick out any world building or portents that’ll give me an idea what they’re planning for Avengers 2.
### The Great Gatsby (10 May)
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s _The Great Gatsby_ is an American classic, a fact that even though I am a Canadian I can certainly appreciate. I’m not going to sugar coat this though: I’ve never actually read it. I’ve always meant to but for some reason it’s just never happened.
Now there’s this, Leonardo DiCaprio re-teaming with director Baz Luhrmann in what looks to be a perfect part for the former and potentially the best looking film from the latter. The film is full of talented people not the least of which is Carey Mulligan who has shone brightly in everything I’ve seen her in, even as Sally Sparrow in Doctor Who.
Plus, if it turns out to suck I won’t have to be bothered by how the movie was a crappy adaptation of the book.
### Star Trek Into Darkness (17 May)
To say I am anticipating this film is an exercise in understatement. Understand that I am a life long Star Trek fan, some of my earliest memories are watching The Original Series with my father. I’ve seen every episode of every show (including the animated series) and every movie. In 2009 JJ Abrams brought Star Trek back to the big screen in a big way and I _fucking loved it_.
Long story short: if this list were ranked, Star Trek Into Darkness would be #1 on the list.
I happen to think that the previous film was nearly perfectly cast so I seriously can’t wait to see the whole crew back again. Yes, even Chris Pine. More importantly, I can’t wait to see Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain in this. So far I’ve only really seen him play good guys so it will be nice to see him put on his evil face. The man is a hell of an actor and this will very likely be a hell of a film.
There’s so much more I could say here, but the bottom line is this: _is it May 17th yet???_
### Much Ado About Nothing (7 June)
So apparently while filming last years _The Avengers_ Joss Whedon called up a bunch of his friends and shot an adaptation of Shakespeare’s _Much Ado About Nothing_ in his own house over 12 days or so.
Let’s rephrase that: the guy making the biggest film of last year made an indie Shakespeare adaption in his home in his spare time. That alone is pretty cool.
But this is also Joss Whedon we’re talking about here. Love him or hate him he’s certainly done some interesting stuff and is really good at managing large casts. I’m also just curious to see what he does with Shakespeare and how he worked his house into the film.
Plus, this is full of his buddies like Nathan Fillion (playing Dogberry), Amy Acker (Beatrice) and Clark Gregg (Leonato).
So basically it’s a bunch of awesome people doing a version of a play by the greatest playwright ever as adapted by a fantastic director. So where do I sign, exactly?
### Pacific Rim (12 July)
Let’s see, director with a crazy and unique visual style? Check. Giant Monsters? Check. Giant Robots fighting those monsters? Check. Two people whose minds link via a computer voiced by the same actress as GLaDOS from Portal? Check. A cast including Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam? Check.
I dunno, maybe this movie wasn’t made for me specifically but there’s certainly a lot of boxes checked off here.
Plus, it’s a disaster movie where people are fighting for humanity as a whole to survive (check) against ridiculous odds. I’m sure that the giant robot that turns the tide will be obsolete or broken or something too but cliches done well are still entertaining as hell, and Guillermo del Toro is a pretty great director so I have little doubt he can pull this off.
### The Worlds End (25 October)
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are finally going to release the third in their “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” each of which has been an homage to a certain type of film so far (if you’ve been hiding in cave these last few years, _Shaun of the Dead_ was zombies and _Hot Fuzz_ was buddy cop action).
In addition to apparently featuring the mint chocolate chip cornetto, apparently the boys will be on a massive pub crawl towards The World’s End Pub and the world might actually be ending while they do it. That description alone is enough to get me in theatres but rest assured the film will be full of their signature comedic style and mile a minute on the nose pop culture riffs that made the previous two films (and the series they did, _Spaced_) so laugh out loud funny.
### Enders Game (1 November)
I am of the opinion that if you have never read Orson Scott Cards phenomenal book _Ender’s Game_ you should probably stop reading this **right now**, go find a copy and read it. There’s even a fantastic [graphic novel adaptation](http://www.comixology.com/Enders-Game/comics-series/8011 “Ender’s Game on Comixology”) if you’re so inclined. I’ll wait here while you do that.
All done? Good, then I don’t have to spoil anything. Now do you see why a movie version of this could be amazing? Harrison Ford as Commander Graff and Sir Ben Kingsley as Mazer? Asa Butterfield as Ender himself? There’s not a lot to dislike here. Well, except that Gavin Hood is directing, but remember that while he did direct _X-Men Origins: Wolverine_ he also directed (and won an Oscar for) _Tsotsi_, which is an amazing film.
### What’s Missing?
There’s certainly a lot more than 10 films coming out this year and more than 10 that I am quite looking forward to. _Thor: The Dark World_ (8 Nov) and _Elysium_ (9 Aug) both only missed being on the list by the skin of their teeth –if I wasn’t a baseball fan you can bet one of them would have made it– and then there’s the Spike Lee remake of _Oldboy_ (11 Oct), _Man of Steel_ (14 Jun) trying to get Superman right for the first time in decades and Tom Hanks playing Walr Disney in _Saving Mr. Banks_ (20 Dec) and _Movie 43_ (25 Jan) doing it’s best to offend, well, everyone it seems.
It definitely looks like it’s going to be a good year for genre film in particular this year, which means this is going to be a good year for nerds like me.
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention _The Wolverine_ (26 Jul) or _The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug_ (13 Dec) and that’s because while I am looking forward to both of these I’m not really excited to see either. That might change once I see some trailers though so time will tell.
Sometime toward the end of 2013 I plan to revisit this list and recap whether I was excited to see the terribly great or the greatly terrible. In the mean time, what are your most anticipated films of the year?