It Was a Very Good Year: “The Place Beyond the Pines”

Much of “The Place Beyond the Pines” was filmed in Schenectady and other Nippertown locales (like the Altamont Fair) during 2011. And for the local premiere in April, Schenectady’s moment in the bright Hollywood spotlight got the red carpet treatment, and local fans bought tickets to see themselves, their friends, their neighbors and their neighborhood up on the big multi-plex screen. And, yes, Bradley Cooper came back for the opening night celebration at the Bow Tie Cinema in downtown Schenectady.

The film didn’t really knock us out – the first half was energized and excellent, but it nosedived into ho-hum melodrama after that – although it did land on quite a few high profile Best 10 Films of the Year lists, including these:

CLAUDIA PUIG of USA TODAY: “As written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, ‘Pines’ is a sweeping look at fateful decisions and their lasting reverberations. This saga of fathers and sons is almost a Shakespearean tragedy. Beautifully rendered, wise and somber, it goes in unexpected directions and features a top-notch cast.”

KYLE SMITH of THE NEW YORK POST: “I think maybe the most magnetic of the next generation of male hotshots is Ryan Gosling, though. His star power lit up ‘The Place Beyond the Pines.’”

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JUSTIN CRAIG of FOX NEWS: “Derek Cianfrance’s morality play is a brooding, immersive experience with some of the best acting you will see all year. Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling and newcomers Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen give scorching performances. The triptych format is unique, unsettling and brilliant as three seemingly unrelated stories unfold over two generations of characters. Packed with nail-biting suspense and strong, layered and morally ambiguous characters, ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ is a phenomenal crime drama.”

LAURA LEON of METROLAND: “Not perfect by a long shot, but it’s a daring, far-reaching and haunting look at fathers and sons.”

RICHARD LAWSON of VANITY FAIR: “A melodrama in the purest, most sublime sense, Derek Cianfrance’s rattling, rapturously novelistic tale of generational regret and legacy was pooh-poohed by some as an overwrought yarn. But something about the film’s seething, summery Schenectady milieu connected with me on a gut level like usually only a good book can. Bradley Cooper inhabits his role, as a remorseful cop, better than he did in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ or this year’s ‘American Hustle,’ and Ryan Gosling does strong work in what I hope is his last wounded tough-guy performance for a while. But really this is Cianfrance’s achievement, crafting a story that’s ancient Greek in its scope and themes, but thrillingly modern in its execution.”

LISA KENNEDY of THE DENVER POST: “On sports radio they call it being a ‘homer,’ meaning one’s assessment is too colored by the rooting affection of a hometown fan. Thank goodness then that director — and Lakewood native — Derek Cianfrance is the real deal. There’s no shortage of artistic might in this bifurcated tale of fathers and sons.”

RANDY MYERS of THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: “So what if Derek Cianfrance’s literary epic comes with a few flaws? This imperfect gem shoots for the stars, and sometimes grabs them. ‘Pines’ is an audacious, beautifully photographed American tragedy with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper fumbling around with huge Shakespearean-sized themes. All that and one of the best chase scenes you’ll see in any year.”

SARA FOSS of THE DAILY GAZETTE

STEPHEN WHITTY of THE NEW JERSEY STAR-LEDGER: “It’s what Schenectady meant to the Mohawks; what it means to director Derek Cianfrance is a wide-open place we yearn for but may never quite reach, a safe space where our past sins — and, particularly, our father’s sins — no longer haunt us and hem us in like dark woods. A sprawling, beautifully acted melodrama, in every best sense of that far-too-often maligned word.”

Also HONORABLE MENTIONs from CHRISTOPHER ORR of THE ATLANTIC; DANA BARBUTO of ASHLAND WICKED LOCAL; DAVID SALAZAR of LATINOS POST.

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