Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

The Place Beyond the Pines (♦♦♦)

Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) is a gifted motorcyclist who discovers he has a baby son fruit of a fling with a young waitress named Romina (Eva Mendes). Luke decides to leave the traveling show he works at and stay near his son and Romina, who at the time is in a relationship with another guy. Luke gets a job in an auto shop run by a friend and in desperate need of money begins to rob banks in Schenectady, NY, aided by his close friend. Life is good while they score big, but Luke's brief stint in jail convinces his partner that they should quit while they're ahead. Unfortunately Luke differs.

Luke goes ahead with his plan to keep robbing banks, but his life is cut short after he parapets himself in a stranger's home and a rookie policeman corners him. Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) is the rookie policeman who, just six months into his new job, encounters Luke that fateful day. Avery carries his guilt for the next fifteen years yet his ambition propels him to run for public office.

In his teenage years, Avery's son befriends Luke's son, Jason, who lives in a town nearby; both teens attend the same high school and form an uneasy friendship based on their mutual liking of prescription drugs for recreational use. A fight erupts between both teens when Jason discovers Avery is his friend’s father…A fight that may very well alter the course of their lives.

I thought The Place Beyond the Pines had everything working in its favor: the heists, the tension, the drama and the guilt for what could have been done differently. In The Place Beyond the Pines we even see great young actors the likes of Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, but somehow for me none of that worked.

For the first time I got disappointed by a movie starring Ryan Gosling. While he is good in the story, he is not great, and certainly he has relatively short screen time. Bradley Cooper gets better and better with every performance and while his acting is not at the same level of his previous dramatic films, he is rather convincing, much more so than the rest of the characters in the story. Nor did I feel any chemistry going on between Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling, and that is particularly noteworthy because they’re dating in real life.

In summary, The Place Beyond the Pines is a story with everything working in its favor but which makes use of none of it to its advantage.