Did I ever tell you about the time John "Cougar " Mellencamp waved to me? It was in the summertime and the sun was out with a chance of rain, I was home from college and a film was being made in my home city of Rochester NY. I was dropped off at the location in which the cast and crew were filming that day, I sat on a bench on the bridge that overlooked the scene they happen to be shooting. From breakfast to sometime after lunch I stayed to see what I could. Then somewhere in between getting wet from the river and the afternoon rain Mellencamp was able to leave his trailer and gave a quick wave to those of us watching from above. The independent film is called After Image and if you can find it I suggest giving it a watch-10 years later and another small film has been made in a place close to my heart...
A Place Beyond the Pines directed by Derek Clanfrance and written by Clanfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder is one story with three separate parts and takes place in a city I have visited (once or twice during my life)
The story starts with Luke played by the aways wonderful Ryan Gosling. Luke is a motorcycle stuntman for a travelling carnival. When this job brings him back to Schenectady NY, he runs into an ex-girlfriend (Eva Mendes) and learns that he is the father to her baby boy, Jason. The new love Luke has for his son sends his life into a downward spiral leading to the second part of the film and introduces Schenectady cop Avery played by always lovely Bradley Cooper. Avery has a young son of his own named A.J. and as a heroic cop his tale is one of drugs, money, corruption on the police force, family and fame. It is that love and sense of family that takes us into the third and final chapter-Jason and A.J are now teenagers and meet when A.J. transfers to Jason's school bringing more trouble for all involved.
A good story and excellent acting make any film worth watching and A Place Beyond the Pines have both including fine performances by Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan.
That being said there are those movies in which the town/city where the story takes place plays a major role in the production and to what the audience sees on scene. NYC, L.A, Chicago and London to name a few are all nice places to watch and I hope to visit but out smaller cities can have just as much as an impact on the viewer and Schenectady proves the point. I spent many days "going over the river and through the woods" to visit my grandmother who lived there. Also by chance it was were my sister and her husband got married. When you see a place you have been and know, when a character reads the local paper a copy of "The Daily Gazette" and you remember waking up and seeing the same paper spread out on the kitchen table or another character mentions the name of a road you have travelled on many times, when there are buildings in the background that you have passed and when Bradley Cooper's character is campaigning for a state office and his staff talks to him about touring the other cities of that state like Buffalo and having to "prepare him for eating a garbage plate" in Rochester one (me) can't help but smile while watching.
But the scene that really got me and stood out is the one where Avery (Cooper) is accepting accommodations for the work that his has done as a cop. There is a press conference for him at Schenectady's City Hall and I swear to you 2014 Academy Award nominee Mr. Bradley Cooper is standing right where my sister stood as the Mayor married her and her husband. The scene makes me so happy!
In the end it really is all about location location location in a small film called A Place Beyond the Pines.