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Seeing the reactions to Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" land on Twitter yesterday, I still couldn't quite get a handle on what to expect when I finally see the film. I was a huge fan of the director's 2010 indie "Blue Valentine," and particularly Ryan Gosling's performance therein. Gosling was robbed of an Oscar nomination for one of the year's best performances, but at least co-star Michelle Williams was noticed.
But reactions to Cianfrance and Gosling's latest collaboration, which also stars Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes, seemed a bit split. Some found it impeccable and another step up. Others, like HitFix's Greg Ellwood, found it to be lacking.
Calling the film "uneven" from the start, Greg wrote that "the script feels like a worked over mash-up of too many familiar ideas and movie cliches." I hope I beg to differ. But in the meantime, "Pines" has found a nice home for not-so-easily-defined indie dramas. Focus Features has announced its acquisition of the title, with plans for a 2013 release.
"Derek Cianfrance has made a bold, epic, and emotionally generous saga, once again showing a master’s hand in eliciting searingly beautiful performances from the actors with whom he collaborates," Focus CEO James Schamus and president Andrew Karpen said jointly via press release.
Added Cianfrance, "The Focus team’s ability to work in partnership with writers and directors is known and respected by the film community. Their passion for this very personal project is why I know they are the right home for our new movie."
The Weinstein Company picked up "Blue Valentine" out of Sundance in 2010 and seeded it throughout the year. Getting a nice publicity boost from an MPAA dispute later in the year, the company managed to keep the film in the minds of critics and Academy voters come year's end. We'll see if Focus can manage similar success with Cianfrance's follow-up.
The Toronto Film Festival is on-going through September 16.
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