Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trance


Danny Boyle's Trance is as curvy as its inscrutable star -- Rosario Dawson, who plays a hypnotherapist hired by the leader of a crew of art thieves (Vincent Cassel) to plumb the fractured memory of their inside man Simon, (James McAvoy) who double-crossed the team and hid the purloined Caravaggio but after being clobbered during the caper he can't remember where he put it.  Yes, the story is a mess -- an artfully engrossing mess -- but a mess all the same, which isn't to say it's not entertaining and quite intriguing. Because much of the story takes place in the recesses of a damaged memory,  we can never be sure of the authenticity of what we're seeing. And this, of course, leads us to doubt the authenticity of the players, none more than the entrancing Ms. Dawson, a personal favorite of mine,who bares all for her art. Recommended.

The Place Beyond the Pines


Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines is as unsettling as his 2010 film Blue Valentine, which also featured a mesmerizing performance by Ryan Gosling. His is a strikingly nuanced and disciplined role. In this morality tale that spans families and generations, Gosling plays a stunt motorcyclist attached to a traveling carnival. After discovering he's fathered a child with the earthy waitress Romina (a splendid Eva Mendes), Luke decides to man up and try to provide for his son. The problem is Romina has a man, Kofi (Mahershala Ali), and Luke has few skills besides riding a motorbike. Following an introduction to the wily auto mechanic Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), they start robbing banks, which eventually  leads to a bloody confrontation between Luke and a green but ambitious beat cop, Avery (Bradley Cooper), who has a young son, himself, and a father who is former New York state Supreme Court justice.  It would be easy to write off Pines as a beautifully filmed but disturbing study of cops and robbers as fathers and sons but I think that would be selling short Cianfrance's starkly unsentimental story.  This is much more than a bromide about the sins of the fathers being visited upon their sons, though that is certainly a theme. It seems to me the film is mostly about the impermeable connections that tie all of us together and how little control we have over any of them. It's a wonderfully affecting movie. Highly recommended.

Yesterday

  Director Danny Boyle's hummably insightful morality tale, Yesterday, is a sure starmaker for amiable Hamish Patel, who plays ...