if you saw THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, you might be in more of a mindset to better be able to ‘process’ the BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING TRAGEDY, of last week.

esp as it is playing out – with the younger bomber communicating from his hospital bed, after being reported to have fatally mowed-down his older brother, the mastermind, with a car during a gun battle. and the questions I would love to ask him about that. done to shut him up, spare him torture/imprisonment, or because he was finally mad at a him .. the mind boggles.
and the live breaking news interviews with his family and friends. amazing.

not that the film is about terrorists or bombing, though there are .. car mechanics ? ok, bike/motorcycle mechanics. and oh, I almost forgot: immigrants.

but it is . . about tragedy.

and families. sons. and twisted, intertwined .. fates.
and ultimately how easy it is, for a father to mess up a son, and esp how easy it is .. for a younger person to come under the bad influence of another.

both movie, and the real-life event, are very very intense. and move deeply to the dark side.

in the movie as in this Boston real-life story, the narrative centers on how .. just one family, i.e. each family – is .. in itself: is a cell.

a self-contained unit within society, and both fiction and non-fiction each demonstrate just how easy it is .. for everything to go south, really really quickly. with young boys at the heart of the storm.
south, for that family, and for society as a whole .. based on the particulars & history of that family: be it genetic characteristics and/or parental guidance, in this movie’s the main storyline is the lack of …

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES .. in a nutshell, it’s the ole nature vs. nuture game, staring some pretty great actors.

it’s a game that plays out bad on both sides of the typical American scenario: a struggling ethnic/immigrant family vs. a privileged upper class family . . and predictably, both sides take a dive.

and guess what?
this film says: a lot of that bad action – depends on the actions of .. the dads.

though I’m not sure, they mean dads as in bio ‘DNA gene pool’ dad, as in the Ryan Gosling ‘dumb-luck’ dad passing on the genetic dumb-luck potential for making bad choices .. to his son, who never knew him, but had a loving home.

or .. the ‘nuturing’ factor – as in the Bradley Cooper over-achieving but traumatized cop dad because he shot the Ryan bank robber dad, and his son, of course .. turns out rotten.
who knows: maybe they were trying to cover all bases ?
I guess subconsciously that’s what makes the movie so compelling.
it really does suck you up, into the drama.

either way you cut it: this film spells .. tragedy.

Ryan Gosling’s character, Luke, is .. a maladjusted gypsy-like ‘carnie’ figure. who seemed self-contained and alright until, Eva came back .. for just one last look.

He’s a little on the dumb side, served up with a gorgeous all-American face, and skills. he is a daredevil motorcyclist in a traveling circus. a hero to summer kids with circus tickets, but a way big loser . . in the bigger picture.

anyway this film – is NOT about religion, or immigration. it cuts closer to the bone.

it’s about the fathers. and their sons. and just how crucial, and how precarious the family unit, EACH FAMILY UNIT is, dad being central .. to the success and mellowness of the family, therefore to all of society, as a whole.

I mean who wants to be shot, dead .. on a minor expedition to empty the bank. yes Ryan’s character quickly morphs into a bank robber, motivated by wanting to take care of his new son.

fast forward, and I do mean FAST FORWARD !!
who wants their carefully raised and loved school kid, same Ryan’s son .. caught up in neglected rich kids’ drug-fuelled parties . . and being busted and put behind bars for like .. 5 to 15 years.

likewise back to real life: who wants to be blown up and maimed in a marathon. a celebration of inner resolve and new age positivity.

so consider that: ALL you people always looking for the b-i-g answer, the .. ‘motive’.
the black and white. the ‘why’?
tragedy, it seems is very complex: born of bad choices, certainly .. but also stemming from deep-rooted parental, if not downright genetic .. circumstance.

that’s the mind-set I was referring to.
in Boston, just like in this harrowing movie, it might just come down to .. the family. the dad. the mom. the genes. the instincts. the old world culture. the history.

this film is also about .. ‘losers’. a word that got taken away from the Boston event, too.

though ‘corruption’ also plays a part.
in fact the police corruption bit in the film . . is it’s weakest link. and the most boring part of the whole movie. RAY LIOTTA . . is way too obvious. I almost walked out, right then and there. lucky I didn’t, so just sit still when the movie wanes .. it most definite gets better.

in this movie .. its about the spectrum, the different ways there are to be losers, on both sides of the coin .. rob a bank / shoot a robber too soon. and the way these bad choice actions in and of themselves produce a shared tragedy: produces the next generation of losers – the robber’s son is a loser for making wrong choices, but seems to come out ahead, while the cop’s son looks to be totally evil & unredeemed. the bad guy Ryan’s son is looking good, after taking a manipulated wrong turn, unlike his dad, he gets a second chance – by the very cop who did not give his dad a second chance. while his son – looks e.o.a. – evil on arrival, no going back, no good to come. and in that sense: dead. it’s kind of the classic – cross-over. it sounds a bit complicated as a soundbite – but as a movie – it rocks, and it ROLLS.

plus: it’s worth the time and ticket just to watch RYAN GOSLING .. duh.
do you feel for him, or what ? and he’s – the bad guy !!
or is it the cop, whose the bad guy. well, that a sense of how the movie plays the viewer, just like .. a damn violin.

but still, GOSLING.
is that guy some emotional straight-faced .. sweet-faced camera-magnet, or what !!

and when he dies, and his body leaves the screen, half-way through the movie no less, the young EMORY COHEN . . who plays BRADLEY COOPER’s privileged but neglected evil son, AJ .. takes up the camera-so- loves-him .. slack. big time.!
a young Marlon Brando, and I bet I’m not the first .. to say this.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES .. at the end of the day, you have to wonder seriously, about how e-a-s-y it is .. for some people to be totally TOTALLY dominated, totally twisted out by others .. so, I’m also thinking, Boston Marathon .. here, too.

in the film the bad domination comes from total, TOTAL strangers. what the hell guys, whatever happened to just say: NO ? but then there would be no story, this is the key to the action, in the PLACE BEYOND THE PINES.

the Ryan Gosling/dad is dominated to no good by a bank robbin’ mechanic he just happens to run into on the road; his son is likewise easily dominated by a drug-seeking high school macho moron who just arrived at the school, a total unknown, who happens to be Bradley the cop’s bad-to-the-bone son .. in the school cafeteria.

1. so is this a tragic genetic flaw that both Ryan and his son, share .. to be so easily undone by strangers. is this why you DO need your dad around to tell the bio son, look I got mislead, now don’t you be doing the same thing. we prob share a dumb domination gene.
file under: nature.

3. while the Bradley Cooper dad, though he’s successful and smart, and his kid looks to be smart enough too, manages to screw up his kid, big time, because he neglected him.
file under: nuture.

so I’m still thinking Boston. sons. fathers. family units. nature / nuture.

is it genetic.
a propensity for making bad choices. a propensity to be influenced. a propensity for not being able to channel disappointment, aggression, or faith.

is it nuture ?
could better family influence/guidance have helped with those ancient mountain fighter Chechen genes.

and finally, it’s a long, deep wide-sweeping movie !!
file under: AS IF !!
everybody should be born with .. a great, wise and powerful, rich is nice too, power lawyer dad – to get them out of jams. Bradley Cooper’s character’s – dad !!

at least, until we figure out how to modify .. all human DNA. and therefore families !!
down to a universal .. and, very m-e-l-l-o-w state. and, then we WILL not have any short-circuiting ole world crazy bros blowing-up .. new age runners.

but by then, we’ll probably all be clones.

let’s hope the guys look like Ryan . . and the girls, like Eva.

watch the trailer: The Place Beyond the Pines – official website


EMORY COHEN (AJ) and DANE DEHAAN (who plays the Ryan Gosling character, Luke’s son .. Jason) in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES / image credit