The Place Beyond the Pines
by Nick Venable
The best film of 2013 so far has got to be Park Chan-wook’s Stok…Dammit, Eric! That’s all right, though, because while I did love that film, it didn’t continue to stay securely and uncomfortably nestled in my psyche for days on end like Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines did. With a plot split between two time periods, the film introduced me into character after character that I probably wouldn’t want anything to do with in real life. Ryan Gosling is a cocky, motorcycle riding bank robber whose attempts at pacification and fatherhood are only slightly more successful than his son Jason’s (Dane DeHaan) eventual attempts at friendship. Bradley Cooper plays a cop who lets his guilt and honest nature cloud his hero status, which doesn’t jibe well with his fellow officers (including a painfully constrained Ray Liotta), and his son AJ (Emory Cohen) is somehow less reputable than Gosling at his worst. As much as I love watching comedies, I always end up flocking to films that challenge my baseline sense of complacency as a viewer, and The Place Beyond the Pines delivers that in spades and red jackets.

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World War Z
by Kelly West
It may help that I haven't read World War Z yet, and therefore went into the film looking for an action packed zombie-mayhem adventure and not an adaptation of a popular novel, as I hear the latter barely applies. I was reluctant to declare a big-budget popcorn flick as my favorite movie of 2013 so far, but when it comes down to it, it really was. World War Z is the most satisfying movie I've seen this year. It not only delivered on every promise its over-played trailers made, but it also managed to offer a fun, exciting and exceptionally satisfying story in under two hours, without any substantial lulls or the time-sucking fourth act that so many movies seem to think they need these days. World War Z introduces Brad Pitt and his family to us. The zombie mayhem ensues. Brad Pitt embarks on a mission to figure out how to stop the virus. More zombie mayhem ensues. The story never deviates from that, or tries to be more than it needs to be to get us through it. Was it as gory as your typical zombie movie? No, but the film made up for that with suspense, some truly intense and thrilling moments, and the right kind of plot resolution in the end. Also, Daniella Kertesz as Segen was a fantastic added bonus, giving a great performance and adding a strong female character in the film.

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