The story of Jackie Robinson gets the Hollywood treatment this weekend.
The drama "42" is a gauzily nostalgic look at Robinson's rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, stoically facing racist taunts and death threats as the first black man in the major leagues. Newcomer Chadwick Boseman is charismatic as Robinson, capturing both his cool grace and his athletic prowess. But director Brian Helgeland's heavy-handed sermonizing and Harrison Ford's over-the-top portrayal of Branch Rickey, the Dodgers' general manager who orchestrated Robinson's arrival in the bigs, lay the movie's message on thick.
"The Place Beyond the Pines" is a densely plotted drama, told in three acts, about fathers and sons and the consequences put on the present by sins of the past. Part one features Ryan Gosling as a motorcycle stunt rider who quits the carnival circuit when he learns he has a son but making a living leads him to bank robbery. Part two centers on a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) whose idealism is tested after a fateful encounter with Gosling's character. Part three is set 15 years later, as the sons of Gosling's and Cooper's characters meet. Director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine") creates a moody and thoughtful drama that benefits strongly from Gosling's dynamic performance and slowly flags when Gosling's not on screen. (Read The Cricket's interview with Cianfrance, as he recounts how Gosling and Cooper became involved in the film and how his cinematographer almost got himself killed.)