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'The Place Beyond the Pines' not to be overlooked

Date: 4/25/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

A solid drama that is currently in theaters and yet another documentary on the Titanic are in this week's film column.

In theaters: The Place beyond the Pines

This is the time of the year when studios like to release movies that might get lost in the explosion of big budget summer films that begins next month and "The Place beyond the Pines" is a film that shouldn't be over-looked.

The theme of the film co-written by its director Derek Cianfrance, is one of the links between people and their consequences — how life is a line of dominoes we accidentally set up and then put in motion.

This is a common enough device in movies. The recent epic flop, "Cloud Atlas" had a similar approach, as did "Magnolia." The difference is those two films treated these relationships as almost freakish and inexplicable.

The relationships established in "The Place Beyond the Pines" are common and everyday, making the story all too believable and carrying real weight.

Ryan Gosling is Luke, a motorcycle stunt driver working in a carnival who has a one-night stand with Romina (played by Eva Mendes). The result, he finds out a year later when the carnival returns to town, is a baby.

Luke is clearly pure trouble, but the idea of having son takes a little of his edge off, but not enough to resist staging a string of bank robberies.

In Luke's mind he is providing for his son, something Romina initially resists, as she is now in a healthy relationship. Luke's charm wears thin, though when it becomes clear she isn't going to leave her boyfriend — a realization that sets forth a string of events that involves the film's other main character, Avery, played by Bradley Cooper.

Avery is a new cop and his involvement with Luke changes his life. Years later, those changes affect his son and Luke's son.

To reveal more of the plot would be a disservice to viewers. Let me just say that if you're looking for an adult drama that will keep you riveted for its more than two hour running time, this is the film you should seek.

Although Gosling and Mendes are very good in their roles, Cooper winds up being the star of the story. Avery is a man with a lot of hard choices to make and Cooper conveys the price of his decisions very well.

This is an Oscar contender. Go see it before it's bumped from theaters.

On Blu-Ray: Titanic 100 years in 3-D

According to the information on the documentary's box, if I had a 3-D television, I could watch this new film in the miracle of three dimensions.

Thankfully, the disc plays just fine without the new-fangled set.

The premise of the documentary is that an expedition sent down a robotic controlled camera that shoots video in 3-D, allowing both researchers and viewers to get a view of the wreckage of the doomed luxury liner that had not been seen before.

The story of the Titanic and its fateful maiden voyage a century ago is re-told through animations, expert testimony, recitations of the accounts of survivors, and archival movie footage and photographs. It's an engaging package that tells what is now a pretty familiar story.

The sinking of the Titanic still fascinates people and since the James Cameron film a cottage industry has arisen surrounding interest in the story.

While this was a successful and somewhat memorable documentary, perhaps because the new angle to the story required technology most of us don't yet have, I didn't find it compelling.