THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
You may not remember this if you're 25 or younger, but between the mid-'70s and mid-'90s, we were sometimes treated to Very Special Episodes of long-running sitcoms. These episodes, which were usually twice as long as their shows' 22-minute standard, found beloved characters momentarily wrestling with Weighty Themes and tackling Important Issues, and were frequently showered with critical praise and awards despite, or maybe because of, their general self-consciousness and bloat. (Michael J. Fox and Helen Hunt surely owe several of their Emmys to VSEs.) They're mocked now, and they were kind of mocked then, and so it might seem like a particularly condescending insult to say that director Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines feels like nothing so much as a Very Special Episode of a gritty, edgy indie drama.