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Tag Archives: Ray Liotta

The Place Beyond the Pines

Luke (played by Ryan Gosling) is a bit of a wanderer – his only real talent is riding his motorcycle and he works as a performance stunt rider in a travelling carnival. After a two year absence, his show returns to Schenectady, New York. After a show one evening, he catches up with an old flame, Romina (by Eva Mendes). She is as beautiful as ever and just as he is about to leave town with the show once again, he discovers that since his last visit she’s secretly given birth to his son, now about 2 years old. He quits the show and decides to stay around town to be near his son. Romina has moved on in her life and she and new partner Kofi (by Mahershala Ali) are raising the baby, so there is no place for Luke with her. He’s desperate to provide for his son so he gets a low paying job at a car workshop run by Robin (by Ben Mendelsohn). Soon he wants to earn more to support his son, so Luke turns to crime – he starts to rob banks, carefully at first but then he takes risks for higher returns … but he makes mistakes. A stand-off with an ambitious young police officer, Avery Cross, (by Bradley Cooper) has life-changing consequences for Luke and his baby son. After the incident with Luke, Officer Cross’s profile is raised within the police force and he wants capitalize on this to progress his career, so he makes another significant decision that means things for both Avery’s family and Luke’s will never be quite the same again. Several years later, the actions of Luke and Avery on the day of the stand-off and then the ensuing actions of these families connected by events in history have further serious consequences for everyone involved.

This movie is well made and the story is compelling. The performances of Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are strong – and Bradley Cooper does well here also. Also excellent is Ben Mendelson as Robin – a very realistic portrayal from him – well done. However, for me the drama loses much of its edge once the first part is over and the two characters of Luke and Avery are no longer the key protagonists in the drama. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but Ryan Gosling’s character primarily features in the first half of the movie – and here is where the strength really lies – Gosling’s fantastic screen presence is intense, his silence, facial expressions and movements are quite enough to display the emotions of his character through the drama. At a point, the story shifts towards Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper’s character) and where is where the drama loses its real edge. In some ways, this movie is trying to be too much – there are several features of the story that are only explored superficially – for example, Ray Liotta’s character is not used to its full potential, he could be a whole lot more than he is here. Also, Rose Byrne is a little redundant in her role as Avery Cross’s long-suffering wife. Because there is so much in this story, the movie is neither one thing nor the other – it fails in some ways as a movie because some dramatic options are not taken – it would perhaps have been better as a television mini-series, giving it the potential to draw more out of some characters and story lines. For me, the ending is a little weak. Overall though, it’s reasonably good.

Made in 2012. Directed by Derek Cianfrance

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Killing Them Softly

In New Orleans in 2008, amidst the economic hard times Markie Trattam (performed by Ray Liotta) runs a card game. He’s done it for years, but has lost a bit of street cred lately since he arranged a hold-up of his own game to pocket all the cash. Johnny Amato (by Vincent Curatola) decides he wants to turn over Markie’s game again and leave Markie squarely in the frame for it – a fool-proof plan! He hires two-bit crook Frankie (by Scoot McNairy) and his dodgy Aussie mate Russell (by Ben Mendelsohn) to do it. The job comes off okay and the boys are home free … but big boss, Dillon (by Sam Shepherd) smells a rat so he hires hit-man Jackie (by Brad Pitt) to sort it out and restore Dillon as top dog. Jackie, in turn, calls on out-of-towner Mikey (by James Gandolfini) to do the job anonymously, but Mikey isn’t the man he once was, so he’s unreliable. Jackie will need to do this himself, so he wants his full whack for the jobs and drives a hard bargain with Dillon’s man (by Richard Jenkins) to get a fair fee. Can Jackie sort this out without the cops crawling all over him?

This is an entertaining crime action thriller. The mood is sepia and dark as a result of the excellent cinematography – there’s no chaos but the violence is deliberate, just the way the characters play it. Brad Pitt owns his role as cool hit-man Jackie, who likes to carry out his hits by killing them “softly”. He wants all the loose ends tied up so his quietly spoken manner is deliberate and clear in its delivery. Mikey is a role that’s classic for James Gandolfini and he fits it like a glove … a cruel, cold-hearted crook with serious weaknesses and little self-awareness. Ray Liotta is strong as Markie and Richard Jenkins is as good as ever here too (in his usual understated way) as Dillon’s man. It’s peppered with great performances and a standout is Australian Ben Mendelson’s fabulous and authentic portrayal of drug-addled Russell – supported by marvellous camerawork, his scenes are great. The movie is based on the book “Cogan’s Trade” by George V. Higgins and was nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival – no surprise there. If you enjoyed “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Get Shorty” or “Jackie Brown” you’ll like this one. Well done everyone.

Made in 2011. Directed by Andrew Dominik

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Movies

 

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