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The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is one of the most engrossing movies I’ve seen this year. It follows the lives of Luke Glanton, a carnival motorcyclist turned bank robber, and Avery Cross, a police officer who eventually is running for public office. This isn’t your typical cop takes down crook story though. It is a deep narrative that later involves Glanton and Cross’ sons, Jason and AJ respectively, who become friends and find their way into some trouble together (and yet still it isn’t your typical fathers getting their sons out of trouble story).

I don’t want to get too much into the plot. The smallest detail would spoil the movie in its entirety. But trust me, this is one you don’t want to miss. Beyond the plot, this movie showcases a wonderful breakdown of the idea of having a main character. The action moves from one character to the next flawlessly, without defined boundaries, so that it feels the story itself, the saga of these four intertwined men, is the main character. Like a painting where there is no central figure, only a feeling and sense of atmosphere. Like Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Cianfrance truly challenges the traditional idea that character is more important than plot or story and places these things on equal ground. Only his is more succinct and successful in narrative composition.

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The Shining Commission 2 by DeviantArt Artist strongstuff

Stephen King is a literary genius. There. I said it. He knows how to paint a character, he knows how to set a scene, and he knows how to twist your guts, pull at your heartstrings, and make you cry (in pleasure, pain and heartwarming sadness). He is a master of story and says so much about the world through his ever so subtle subtext. We have to wait till he or the cranky old critics die before any of this is recognized but it’s true nonetheless.

Given my respect for the man as a writer, you can imagine my excitement at sitting down for the very first time to read The Shining, one of his most beloved works. Everyone knows the story: A family with the slightly-more-than-usual dose of problems finds themselves moving into a hotel closed for the season as caretakers. But of course there is something off about this place, something creepy and grotesque. It’s your classic stay in a abandoned house or castle overnight tale, only extended and humanized.

King certainly delivers up to my expectations. The atmosphere is dark and dense, the characters the same. I was hooked the whole way through and felt more than a few chills creep up my spine. I felt pity for the Torrance family for all their troubles. But one thing I couldn’t get out of my mind was a statement King himself made about Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of the novel. I remember reading, somewhere, that King didn’t like it, that he thought Kubrick’s vision was too different than his own and that there was a disconnect in theme. That King’s version was meant to show the evil within the walls of the hotel, whereas Kubrick made Jack Torrance, the man, a monster.

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Television by DeviantArt Artist aerettberg

What I’d like to talk about today is some really exciting trends happening in film. Recently Steven Spielberg and George Lucas talked about the death of moviegoing as we know it. And they’re right. It’s an outdated form really. Anyway most of us have quality TVs with decent sound systems in our living rooms, so what’s the point of paying ten, fifteen, twenty bucks sometimes (not to mention popcorn, candy and soda) to go watch an hour and a half …

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Snow, Glass, Apples by DeviantArt Artist jdillon82

I. “Snow, Glass, Apples” by Neil Gaiman “I’m deeply interested in the evolution of the tales. What happens to a Grimm tale when it migrates to the U.S.?” — Maria Tatar on Krista Tippett’s NPR show On Being. Me too. And they remained largely intact until Walt Disney came along and purified them. But as Tatar points out, thanks to popular entertainment they’re being plunged into the subconscious abyss once more and confronting our true demons. Back in 1994 Gaiman …

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