Taking a stretch limousine to screening of “The Place Beyond the Pines” in New York City was a no-brainer for Mayor Gary McCarthy.
But forget the Hollywood image. For McCarthy, splitting the rental with William Winkler, the city’s director of operations, was all about avoiding a late-night drive back to Schenectady and all the hassle of parking in downtown Manhattan.
“And I figured I could maybe get some work done on the way down,” he said Tuesday.
The two city officials joined their wives for the cast and crew screening at AMC Loews theater on 34th Street. They were among many Capital Region residents who served as extras in Derek Cianfrance’s film largely shot in Schenectady and got an invitation for Tuesday’s limited showing.
McCarthy was honored to get the invite, two days before the film’s red-carpet premiere, three days before its limited release and more than two weeks before a local debut is scheduled. That’s the bonus of being in the film — even if it’s in an extremely limited capacity.
AP review of the film
View Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire's review of "The Place Beyond the Pines."
McCarthy said he was very pleased with the movie and was thrilled to see so many noteworthy Schenectady landmarks throughout the film. He believes the film will be received very well by the public, especially those moviegoers living in the Capital Region.
“It tells a complex story,” he said moments after leaving the screening. “Overall, it will reflect well on Schenectady.”
Both McCarthy and his wife, Caroline, had cameo appearances as extras during filming in summer 2011, as did Winkler and his wife, Nancy. McCarthy said the film crew seems to be living up to its promise to keep the local community involved as the film nears its release.
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“They always indicated they wanted to involve Schenectady as much as possible,” he said.
In fact, Nancy Winkler ended up in a number of scenes after a chance meeting with the production crew while working at Ellis Hospital. After appearing in a scene with Bradley Cooper at the hospital, she also was in crowd shots at City Hall and Vale Cemetery.
The Winklers were still on vacation in Florida when they learned of the invitation last week. Still, they weren’t about to miss a chance to brush elbows with Hollywood again.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.
Tuesday’s screening is just a prelude to a red carpet event slated for Thursday in New York City, in which all of the major actors are expected. The movie opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, with the national release scheduled April 12.
The 140-minute film is a three-part serial about how one misstep can lead to a generation of turmoil. Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a carnival stunt motorcycle rider who unexpectedly learns he has fathered a son with Romina, a Latino diner waitress played by Eva Mendes.
Learning about the child brings new meaning to the life of Gosling’s character, but also drives him to a life of crime in an effort to support his son. Then during a botched robbery, his path intersects with Avery Cross — a rookie Schenectady cop played by Bradley Cooper — touching off a decades-long conflict between the two families.
The debut of “The Pines” is long-awaited in and around Schenectady, which served as a gritty backdrop for Cianfrance’s triptych crime drama. The director relied on roughly 2,000 local extras, in addition to several dozen Capital Region residents who were given speaking roles.
Kayla Smalls, a Duanesburg High School senior, had a small speaking part as Romina’s daughter. The role was enough to gain her a mention in the film credits, an invite to “The Pines” premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September and again during the screening Tuesday.
Smalls figured she’d be invited to the local premiere, which is scheduled for April 11 in Schenectady and still being planned by Focus Features. Then on Saturday, an email invitation came from the company for the downstate screening.
“I was kind of shocked to get invited to the New York,” she said.
Despite having seen the film twice now, Smalls still hasn’t caught much of her performance. Shy to see herself on the silver screen, she always averts her eyes when she sees her part coming.
“It’s weird,” she said. “I basically closed my eyes and didn’t watch.”