The Magnificent Return of Ryan Gosling
It would be an understatement to say that the 2012 film season has been a letdown after seven months. When two of the top five summer releases are Ted and Magic Mike, it’s easy to save up the dough for what has to be a strong finish come the holidays (and don’t worry, it will be). So what’s missing? After some careful deliberation, the answer is obvious. Movie theaters are missing their biggest star, the man 75% of human beings would gladly take out on a date. Ryan Gosling.
Last year he treated us to three excellent and diverse films that checked him off as the heartthrob of Hollywood, but also as one of the most talented actors of his generation. In July, he gave us Crazy, Stupid Love – one of those rare romantic comedies that appeals to both sexes. Ninety days later he turned a 360 as the amoral driver willing to bash anyone’s brains out in the hyper-stylized and wildly original Drive. Finally, he starred alongside George Clooney in the underrated political thriller The Ides of March.
If you’ve been wondering if Gosling has been too busy breaking up street fights to get himself behind the screen in 2012, then fear not. He’s got two films lined up for later this year sure to elate the critics while flying right by the Academy, an institution that has unfortunately evolved into a running joke. Believe it or not, the one you’ve probably seen trailers for already, Gangster Squad, is not one of them. That’s slated for January 13, 2013.
His two releases this year are The Place Beyond the Pines and Only God Forgives (20% chance the latter slides back to 2013). What makes both films special is their directors: Derek Cianfrance and Nicolas Winding Refn, respectively. The prior directed Gosling in the slit-your-wrists-and-cry love tragedy, Blue Valentine, while Refn was man in charge for Drive. Both are directors with a focus on style, and that fits Gosling. Throughout his career he’s managed something few actors have succeeding in doing, and that’s being both an indie and mainstream superstar. Until, well now, he’s always done one mainstream film (Crazy, Stupid Love) and one independent title (Drive). Seeing how four of his next five movies are directed by Cianfrance, Malick and Refn twice, one could assume he’s found his niche elsewhere from the Hollywood hacks. Then again, maybe he’s just that big of a superstar.
First up, The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s got an eclectic cast that is pretty hit or miss: Gosling (check), Rose Byrne (actually like her a lot, see Sunshine), Bradley Cooper (meh), Eva Mendes (hmm) and Ray Liotta (as long as he’s a gangster). Here’s what we know: motorcycle stunt driver “considers” committing a crime to provide for his family, which hurls him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician. Sounds a hell of a lot like Drive, but it’s directed by Cianfrance. Regardless, it’s supposedly a “generational” crime saga, so I guess people are going to age significantly over the course of the film. It’s all in good hands, though. Cianfrance is a talented director, and if you need evidence, just see Blue Valentine. Plus, he has a penchant for graphic sex scenes…and if Eva Mendes is included, then count me in.
The one to really get excited for is Only God Forgives. The perfect marriage of an epic title and what has already become an epic cinematic tandem, Refn and Gosling. The two became close friends during the filming of Drive, immediately signed on for this one and have already announced yet another for late 2013/early 2014. If you want the full plot synopsis for Only God Forgives, then click here. Basically, Gosling is a respected, yet empty criminal who manages a Thai boxing club as a front for his drugs operation. When his brother murders a prostitute, things go south as a legendary police detective is called on the case. Gosling has already said it was the strangest script he’s ever read, and that only makes this more exciting. Unusual and Refn are quite the pairing. This film is sure to generate millions after the success of Drive, which makes sense, because as long as Refn sticks to that same directing style, he’ll continue to blow away other directors in the genre. Here’s a quick summary of a preview shown two months ago at the Cannes:
The camera finds a room in what now seems to be a club of some sort, possibly a high-end strip club. Two Thai men in white suits sit laughing on a long couch in one corner, Gosling sits in another staring at a nervous looking girl holding a microphone. She’s not singing or looking like she’s about to sing, just standing there looking sad and lost in her thoughts.
Gosling stands abruptly, walks calmly over to the two Thai men having a good time and proceeds to smash one of the men’s drinks into this face, shattering the glass against his teeth. Punches are thrown, Gosling dominating the fight, which continues out into the hall where Gosling grabs the hurt man by THE MOUTH (he’s lying on the floor, gasping in pain and Gosling just goes ahead and sticks his hand into the dude’s mouth and drags him down the hall by his upper jaw) and throws him out of the building.
The man’s friend kicks Gosling from behind, they brawl and Gosling ends up not only beating them both, he decides that’s not enough and removes his belt and starts a-whippin’.