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The Place Beyond the Pines - Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Bruce Greenwood, Harris Yulin, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Robert Clohessy

The Place Beyond the Pines: a trilogy of stories surrounding a cop, a robber, and their kids. Firstly, the casting director should be put down; nobody here is doing anything new. Gosling (complete with gratuitous torso shot) is a lovable-but-flawed boyfriend, Cooper is a smart and ambitious over-achever, DeHaan as a creepy weirdo kid and Liotta as a bent cop, Mendelsohn as a petty low-life criminal – fuck me sideways, it’s like a cast made of characters from other films. While the three plot threads are connected, they are more akin to three completely separate stories. It has a painfully Indie/Arthouse slant to it; this means it’s OK to have excruciatingly long cuts of people riding bikes and cars down roads, and to casually drop in to the lives of ‘everyday people’. And once the ’15 years later’ title appears you know exactly where this is heading, so to take another 40 minutes feels rather greedy. More generally, it’s also hard keeping up with where you are on a timeline – sure, it’s chronological but one scene will jump a day, others weeks, some months with no indication. Over the 17 or so years all we as the audience get is all of the melodrama – in a film that is nothing like the bank-job / heist / action film the trailer suggests. I genuinely don’t understand the hype surrounding director Derek Cianfrance, but he got one thing right – calling this ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ – which tells you everything you need to know about it – too long, very vague, and painstaikingly tedious. By the last act, it felt more like the NeverEnding Story.

Score: 3/10

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Bridesmaids: even the best of friends can buckle under the stress of a wedding! Calling thisThe Hangover with chicks’ does a disservice to the film – even if the marketing did want to push it in that direction (£££). Where it stands out is that it’s consistently funny, with a great humour range – Kirsten Wiig in particular is immense. Story-wise it’s a paint-by-numbers friendship rollercoaster, that loses its footing a bit towards the end and has a few spells where it’s all about the story and not the jokes. It could have used the other funny girls a bit better; especially Rita. Hamm plays a great weirdo, and what’s an Irish TV star doing in Hollywood?!?! (He does a good job though!). In the least condescending way possible, it’s great to see women on the big screen being this funny! Strong comedy that doesn’t rely on (just) dick jokes.

Score: 7.5/10

Knowing: [unavoidable spoilers]: an astrophysicist receives a bit of paper that holds the key to every major disaster on earth. The number connection at the start feels like a high-brow Number 23, especially the drunken math-ster montage. The film’s surprisingly atmospheric and way more spooky than it looks. Ironically, and eerily, the movie also predicts a Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster, weird. Disaster-wise we have an epic plane crash and destruction sequences on a supreme scale. Cage is rather good in this. Everything’s going really well then from out of nowhere: ALIENS AND FLAMING WOODLAND ANIMALS!!WTF?!?! Just when the film’s almost bounced back from that the final 15 minutes is another gigantic slap in the face. Knowing is a great premise that worked surprisingly well and was heading towards a 7-8 score. Unfortunately, it was absolutely mauled by the ending.

Score: 4/10

Adam: a film about a guy with asperger syndrome who meets his new female neighbour and their time together. Not convinced? Neither was I when I read the synopsis. The director could have made this ultra quirky but generally stayed focused on telling the great story. Aware that it would undoubtedly be compared to Forrest Gump, it even makes a cheeky reference to this. Both leads are outstanding, which makes the film more believable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were nominated for several awards. Because of Adam’s tendency to take everything at face value, and difficulty to gauge other peoples’ feelings the film has subtle and glaring comedy moments throughout. Look out for Ervin Burrell (the Wire), and Adam himself looks like Mr Prezbo. Despite the realism you do still get the feeling that it romanticises the relationship potential with someone that has aspergers. Not your classical Hollywood Rom-Com, but well worth checking out.

Score: 8/10