The Place Beyond the Pine

If you just saw Wonder Woman, congratulations. Your life is changed forever. If you’re like me, you want to recreate the experience every day for eternity but can only watch Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Keeping Up With The Joneses so many times until the blu-ray release. However, there was another extraordinary actor in that film. Okay, a few actually. I’m planning a Robin Wright retrospective as well, don’t you worry.
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For now, I’m more readily familiar with the work of Chris Pine. You know, the actor famous for playing Captain Kirk, having blue eyes, and being the best Hollywood Chris. He was marvelous in Wonder Woman (not that convincingly falling in love with Gal Gadot would be a hard day’s work for anyone) as Diana’s lieutenant/love-interest, in that order. I’m a big fan of the art of banter and these two pull it off swimmingly.
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From the moment he steps out of the bath lagoon to their arrival in London is hands down my favourite romantic comedy of all time. In the scene on the boat when Steve delicately and respectfully investigates Diana’s knowledge of “pleasures of the flesh” is probably my favourite line-reading of the film, if not Pine’s entire career. Highlights of which include, but are not limited to…

The Finest Hours

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I’m so glad Chris Pine got to make this movie. The story takes place in Chatham, Massachusetts in February 1952 and is based on the true story of the “greatest small boat rescue” in US Coast Guard history. Pine plays Bernie Webber who captained a lifeboat into a perilous storm to rescue 32 men from a sinking oil tanker.
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Bernie is not well liked at the Coast Guard station. They make fun of him for being too earnest and soft-spoken. He cares deeply about the rules and regulations of the Coast Guard. He won’t do anything without the permission of his commanding officer, including getting married, even after everyone tells him it’s only a formality. When he is ordered to begin rescue of the ship which requires getting “over the bar” (a series of shoals dividing the Chatham harbour from the sea) which is a very dangerous task in a storm, the other men tell him not to bother as he won’t make it and could actually die trying. He replies that it’s his job and he was ordered too so he has to try. That’s the kind of man Bernie is. He is brave and meticulous but throughout their mission he learns to be more impulsive and follow his instincts rather than blindly adhere to the wishes of his commanding officer. It starts when he realizes his lifeboat was only built for 12 men, including the 4-man crew, and there are about to be 32 more on board. On the way back he turns off his radio when ordered to return to sea, resolving that it would be easier and faster for him to find the harbour by following the lights on shore. By the end of the rescue he has earned the respect of every man at the station and those he saved, although Bernie would have done it for nothing.
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Pine gets to stretch his accent legs here as a born Massachusetts-ian, luckily surrounded by native Bostonians in the cast such as Casey Affleck and a fantastic Ben Foster. It’s nothing compared to his German accent in Wonder Woman, mind, but it is fun to listen to a group of six men with thick Boston accents repeat the phrase “over the bar” again and again.
I definitely recommend this film to anyone who wishes The Perfect Storm was made by Disney. If you hate Disney and boat movies, you might enjoy…

This Means War

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I’m honestly obsessed with this movie. It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve watched it. When my mom visited me two years ago I put it on because I genuinely thought she would enjoy it as much as I do but, she hated it. I think it’s a brilliant satire, both of how relationships are portrayed in movies and in the real world. I may be the only one who sees it that way but the overt invasions of privacy and the complete disregard for protocol or procedure by our two CIA Agent main characters would be extremely problematic otherwise. Chris Pine leans in hard to his typecasting as the All-American dashing hero and playfully spars with Tom Hardy as his rough-around-the-edges and delightfully articulate (against type for grunt-master Hardy) British partner. The two best friends wage war with each other after they both fall for Reese Witherspoon, a quality control specialist who decides to date both men without telling them (she doesn’t know they know each other) and test their boyfriendability as she sees fit. She is encouraged by married best friend Chelsea Handler who lives vicariously through her.
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The guys quickly figure out what’s happening and use their extensive government agency resources to constantly one-up each other and spy on Reese to find out what she’s looking for in a mate. Tom even has a side plot about trying to balance the demands of a career in espionage with fatherhood (can anyone truly have it all??) and he’s not above flaunting his son around Reese to show her how sensitive and paternal he is. It’s extremely silly, mad-cap fun and it was filmed around my old haunts in Vancouver. Most notably the now nonexistent three-story HMV on Robson that they re-purpose as a video rental store (this movie is only five years old but that scene was set in the late 90s) in which Reese and Chris meet-cute. I have a lot of happy memories in that store so it’s bittersweet for me to see it so lovingly portrayed on film.
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It’s nice to see Hardy lighten up a bit and, whether or not you enjoy the finished product, it’s clear the cast and crew had a great time making it. I really can’t recommend this movie enough, as long as you approach it as a comment on romantic stalking (which occurs all the time in rom-coms) and not, like, a movie about a guy who drugs his best friend to stop him from having sex with the woman they’re both dating. Or if you prefer your Chris Pine to be a little more arrogant and in space, look no further than…

Star Trek

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You might not know this about me, but I am a sucker for a reboot. Or a remake. Or even a decades-later sequel in the same universe. It doesn’t matter. Even if I’ve never seen the original and have no plan to do so. The less I know about the franchise the better. Such was the case when Star Trek came out in 2009. I was familiar with the concept of Star Trek but I didn’t really care for it. This was all about to change.
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Star Trek changed my perception of sci-fi movies. They could be funny! The sequence where Bones drugs Kirk and sneaks him on to the Enterprise brought me back to the theatre five times. Chris Pine really came out swinging. He had the swagger and the smoulder of a typical leading man and the raw talent of a character actor. His Kirk, due to a rejigging of the timeline, spends the bulk of the story trying to prove he’s worthy of his father’s legacy by denying that he is, in fact, worthy of his father’s legacy. It’s a curious balancing act between stubborn heroism and crushing self-doubt. Kirk naturally ascends to Captain of the enterprise by the time the credits role because, movies, and gets to keep all the friends he made along the way as his crew.
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The rest of the cast is equally fantastic, boasting Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and the late, great Anton Yelchin. It’s a fun romp through space that explores themes of family and belonging (this is a popular theme for space-romps) while also being action-packed and sufficiently dramatic to keep the audience invested in the goings on. Even if you’ve never watched or enjoyed a Star Trek in your life, this is an excellent place to start. If you’re not interested in seeing Chris Pine play another hero, how about a villain?

Horrible Bosses 2

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You may not know this about me, but I’m a sucker for a sequel. And I LOVED Horrible Bosses but I could watch Horrible Bosses 2 every day for a year and never grow tired of it. Well, maybe not, but certainly once or twice a month. I think my current record is three times in one weekend and it’s all due to Chris Pine and his portrayal of the villainous Rex Hanson. He’s so so so good. Also do yourself a favour and peep that booty in the scene where he crawls out of the trunk. Those grey jeans are doing God’s work.
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This character could have been so terrible. A rich douchebag who orchestrates his own kidnapping and then double-crosses his partners in crime isn’t supposed to be likeable but Pine makes it work. He’s just so damn charming! Charming and charismatic with the attitude of someone who moves through life free of obstacles. He puts everyone at ease with his buddy-buddy routine and his piercing blue eyes that somehow appear bluer when he cries. Chris Pine maxes out his own earnestness in this role, giving a rousing speech to inspire our heroes to take down the man and get their due! Even if it will surely land them all in prison. When he arrives at Nickurtdale’s offices to begin the kidnapping, he immediately makes himself at home, like the overly-privileged man he is. I also love the display of arrogance when he calls out Dale’s racist Mexican accent the very morning after taunting his Asian maid with an equally racist accent.
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The brainstorming montage is crazy good. I especially like the bit where they’re all on their phones, even alleged victim Rex. He’s exactly the kind of idiot who would Instagram his own kidnapping. At one point Jason Sudeikis announces that they are way better at kidnapping than murder and I’m inclined to agree. This Horrible Bosses is much lighter and more fun than the previous entry, even if it suffers from a severe lack of Colin Farrell. I wish it had been successful enough to ensure a threequel because I would be very interested in seeing what hijinks these guys keep getting into. There are so many more crimes to almost commit! Such as bank robbing. Which reminds me of another fantastic Chris Pine movie…

Hell or High Water

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This was absolutely my favourite movie from last year. The script, (which earned Taylor Sheridan an Academy Award Nomination) is a masterful slow burn story, unfolding just enough to keep you compelled and wanting more. Chris Pine and Ben Foster play brothers who start robbing banks to save their mother’s house from foreclosure. The pair have an easy chemistry and genuine bond as they’ve worked together previously in the aforementioned The Finest Hours.
Here Pine sheds his trademark cockiness, tries to hide his good looks behind an unkempt moustache (it doesn’t work), and turns in one of the finest performances of his career. There was even a slight Oscar buzz about him, which I feel would be richly deserved and might not be too far from his reach if he keeps doing films of this caliber.
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His co-star, Ben Foster, is certainly no slouch himself and delivers an energetic and authentic performance as a reckless Texan. His character was so precise and someone I am very familiar with. From the tobacco chewing to the fiery temper and constant drinking, I know that dude. I grew up with those dudes in Alberta, AKA Canada’s Texas. There’s a scene when Chris wakes Ben up and he startles him so much he jumps off the couch and almost decks his brother. At first I thought it was just a weird reaction but then I realized: he’s been to prison. He can never let his guard down, especially at night. I’m not sure if that was imagined by the writer, director, or actor but it’s the kind of specific character detail I LIVE FOR.
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I confess I still haven’t gotten around to Chris Pine’s early work (Unstoppable, Just My Luck, or The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement) although I might have to make a point of doing so. I also have yet to see his episode of Saturday Night Live, which was praised as a momentous achievement for the multi-talented performer. Move over, Timberlake. 
It’s clear from this list that Pine can make lemonade from any old lemon he comes across and has forever cemented his status in Hollywood as the reigning champion of Chrises. Sorry Hemsworth.
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