Only God Forgives (2013)
Before Only God Forgives, the last 5 full-length movies that Ryan Gosling starred in were all high caliber films. That being said, I did not know a whole lot about Only God Forgives before watching it, but I figured that with Gosling’s track record, it had to be good.
Only God Forgives takes place in the slums of Bangkok. Julian (Ryan Gosling) is part of a drug-smuggling family. After Julian’s brother is murdered, Julian’s mother wants him to find and kill the man responsible. Things get more complicated after Julian finds out the reason why his brother was killed.
Let me just say, I figured way wrong!
The film was painstakingly drawn out. It was dark, graphic, weird, awkward, hard to follow, boring, pointless, and just plain bad. It tried way too hard to be something special, but it just turned out to be one of the worst movies that I have seen all year. In fact, it might just be the worst movie of the year. It is certainly Ryan Gosling’s worst movie.
I wanted to turn the movie off halfway through. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it never did. It just got worse, and worse.
I try not to be so blatantly harsh when it comes to reviewing films, but I am going to make an exception with this one. Let me just be blunt, and honest. Overall, Only God Forgives is just crap.
To all of you Ryan Gosling fans out there, he is bad in this movie, but the movie is even worse. I am a big Gosling fan. Do not waste your time with this film.
I rate this movie a 1 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? RUN!
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
The Place Beyond the Pines was not exactly what I expected it to be. The film was unique because there were multiple layers to the story as well as to each of the characters. The storyline flowed nicely even though each layer of it seemed to change who the main characters were. The mood of the movie was rough and intense throughout with a darkness that few films are capable of.
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver whose life gets turned upside down after finding out that he is a father. In order to try to provide for his kid, he quits his job and begins robbing banks. Avery (Bradley Cooper) is an honest cop. Eventually both men’s paths cross.
The film is written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
Gosling is cast against type. He does not usually play the rebel outlaw type, but he proves once again that he is capable of widening his range as an actor because he nails his part.
Cooper has a strong presence and when his character arrives, it changes the whole dynamic of the movie.
I felt like Mendes did a good job, but we could have gotten more out of her character. I fault the writers for that. She did great with what she had to work with, but her character could have been developed better.
Liotta seems to have resurfaced after being pretty washed up the last few years. In this film he carried himself like the Ray Liotta of old. He did not seem like the train wreck that he was becoming. This was a welcomed surprise.
Both Cooper and Gosling continue to make smart decisions when it comes to which films to act in. This film is guaranteed to keep them both in the spotlight.
The Place Beyond the Pines is a movie filled with tough subject matter mixed with raw emotion portrayed by a fantastic cast of actors who are very passionate about their work. This combination makes for a very exciting and suspenseful film about people leading hard lives.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Crazy, Stupid, Love. is one of the better “dramadies” that I have seen in a while.
Sweet-talking ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes newly, almost single Cal (Steve Carell) under his wing and tries to help him get back out into the dating scene. This sets off a dysfunctional chain reaction in both of their lives and hilarity ensues along with craziness, stupidity, and love.
The film has just the right blend of laughs and drama. It may go a little overboard in one direction or the other at times, but that just helps to capitalize on the subject matter and keep the film exciting.
Carell does better when more comedy is involved and Gosling is more of a serious actor. Both actors’ styles complemented each other very well and I think that working together enabled them each to go a little bit out of their comfort zones as to what is usually the norm for them. Gosling pulled off being funny and Carell managed to get serious. Carell has proved that serious doesn’t usually work for him (i.e. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)), but it did in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Gosling didn’t become a comedian by any means. He has always managed to be pretty witty and clever, but he added funny to the mix.
The movie also has strong female characters played by Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Marisa Tomei. Each woman was able to bring a level of wholesomeness to their roles with a touch of quirkiness. This complemented the film quite well and helped to make it a bit unpredictable.
Josh Groban proved that he should stick to singing and leave the acting to the actors.
If you are looking for a good date movie (whether you are married or not), look no further than Crazy, Stupid, Love. It is humorous and touching at the same time. It is not a “chick flick.” It is a film that both men and women will enjoy.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked Crazy, Stupid, Love., then you will probably enjoy:
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) (click on the title for my full review)
The film looks like a cross between Drive (2011)(good) and Killing Them Softly (2012)(bad). In Drive Ryan Gosling is a stunt driver turned driver for hire. In The Place Beyond the Pines it appears like he is a stunt motorcycle driver turned bank robber. It seems that Eva Mendes plays a very similar character in The Place Beyond the Pines that Carey Mulligan plays in Drive.
Overall the movie looks pretty dark in a similar way to that of Killing Them Softly. Also, Ray Liotta and Ben Mendelsohn are in both of those movies. Both actors played very scuzzy characters in Killing Them Softly and I think they have continued that trend in The Place Beyond the Pines.
The wildcard in The Place Beyond the Pines is going to be Bradley Cooper. In recent years Cooper has proved that not only is he a supremely capable and extraordinary actor, but he has also chosen his movies very wisely. Gosling is great and Liotta has that ability as well, but we have seen them in this type of movie before. Cooper, I think, will be the deciding factor as to whether or not this movie is any good.
On paper, a movie with this cast should be a slam dunk. It does look good enough to see in the theatre, but I’m going to be a little skeptical.
The movie directed by Derek Cianfrance and it is set to release on 3/29/13.
Gangster Squad (2013)
With a huge squad of big name actors, Gangster Squad definitely had enough firepower and got the job done right. Although with such a high caliber cast, one would have to try very hard to not make a good film. With Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie, who could go wrong? The supporting cast is an endless number of recognizable awesome character actors and I couldn’t name them all if I tried. Every other scene I recognized another face. I kept saying; Wow he’s in this too? Or, I like that guy. What else have I seen him in?
This could just be perhaps, Josh Brolin’s best performance. He was excellent! His role fit him like a glove.
Ryan Gosling was his usual suave and slick self. Once again he was paired with Emma Stone as they were in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011). They were a great couple again, but her character in my opinion, did not get much of a chance to develop. She was the big love interest, but she really was not in much of the movie.
Gangster Squad is Sean Penn’s best movie since Mystic River (2003). He has quite honestly been pretty disappointing on and off the screen in the last decade. This is a solid comeback movie for him. His character far exceeded my expectations.
Speaking of comeback movies, Nick Nolte surprised us all with a major comeback and Oscar worthy performance in the movie Warrior (2011). Even though his role in Gangster Squad was pretty minor, he reminded us that he can still act.
Giovanni Ribisi never ceases to disappoint and he continued that tradition once again.
Robert Patrick’s film career peaked when he played the T-1000 robot in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He has been in many movies and TV shows in the last 22 years since then, but none of his roles have ever lived up to T2. He gives a good supporting role in Gangster Squad.
Michael Pena and Anthony Mackie have both been up and comers for a while. The two of them were both fun additions to the film.
The filmmakers did a remarkable job recreating Hollywood in the 1940s. Everything about the movie seemed real and believable. The clothing, the cars, the buildings and surrounding landscapes, and even the way people talked and acted were all works of art in themselves.
Gangster Squad is one of the best movies that I have seen in the last year. I was only a little disappointed that Emma Stone did not get much of a chance to develop her character. Even the much lesser known Mireille Enos, who was Josh Brolin’s wife in the film, seemed to have a bigger role than Emma Stone. If the film was a little longer and had developed its female characters a little more, I think that it would have been even better. The film was pretty amazing though, and if you have not done so already, you should check it out!
I rate this movie an 8.5 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.