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Wild angels and easy riders

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We celebrate 'The Place Beyond the Pines' with these road ragers By Kat MurphySpecial to MSN MoviesHe wore black denim trousers and motorcycle bootsAnd a black leather jacket with an eagle on the backHe had a hopped-up 'cicle that took off like a gunThat fool was the terror of highway 101As "The Place Beyond the Pines" begins, Ryan Gosling ritually readies himself to ride his motorcycle in a circus show. His ripped body, covered in mysterious tattoos, advertises a life on the road, punctuated by rest stops in strange places. As stoic as any gunfighter, rodeo rider or rock star, he strides through crowds of fans, trading coded greetings with fellow cyclists. Is this sexy stud the last American hero? Not when the open road curves into a cage for wild angels and easy riders. Bing: More about 'The Place Beyond the Pines'In the movies, it's men on motorcycles who inherit the American cowboy paradigm of footloose freedom and rugged individualism. Like Shane and Ethan Edwards and Hawkeye -- and a slew of Western wild bunches -- chopper nomads are cursed or blessed by their affinity for the frontier, the unwillingness to trade unfettered speed for roots, the glamour of seductive macadam for civilization's mix of pleasures and discontents. Harley-Davidson studs dress to kill, their sexy attire an affront to men in gray flannel suits. Their hogs signal powerful (and provocative) transport, often of the sexual kind. Nihilists, dreamers, rebels, sociopaths and lost souls, these bad boys are born to be wild, their exotic Otherness inspiring lust or loathing. So zip up your black leather jacket and pull on your motorcycle boots for our celebration of vroom-vroom biker flicks as "The Place Beyond the Pines" hits the screen.Who's your favorite motorcycle man? Tell us on our MSN Movies Facebook and Twitter pages.   (Focus Features)
© Focus Features
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