LOOPER

The first time I wrote you about Looper was on September 12th 2010, so just over two years ago, at another corner of the internet before I made tumblr my home (it’s pretty hilarious how wrong I was about the premise of the movie, hehe). I’m saying this because I want you to know I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time. You have too, probably, if you know about Rian Johnson. He’s the guy behind Brick (2005) and The Brothers Bloom (2008). If you saw these films then you know, you’re not learning anything right now, and if you didn’t? If you’ve never seen these two films, well, no shame in that, but they’re both great films, smart filmmaking, wholly satisfying. You should check them out. You watch those and you know that Rian Johnson has a voice and a vision and he’s not fucking around. He’s an auteur. You remember seeing Shaun of the Dead for the first time? Or Reservoir Dogs? Or Blood Simple? Yeah, Rian Johnson is in that league. They don’t fuck around in that league.

So four years ago we get the wonderful The Brothers Bloom and it’s fantastic and time passes and I’m wondering what’s next? I want more. I’m a glutton for good cinema. I eventually start hearing about Looper. Word is scarce. It apparently has sci-fi elements and time travel elements and it reunites Rian Johnson with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And it has Bruce Willis. And they play the same guy. And that’s all I can find out which is perfect. Who’d want to know more?

Cut to today. I’m sitting down in the theater with some friends and the lights dim and after a handful of shitty car commercials and a couple of trailers (How great does Killing them softly looks? Pretty damn great…) the movie starts.

Rian Johnson doesn’t fuck around, man.

I don’t talk about plot in my mini reviews, I’m a believer of going into a movie as fresh as you can, but yeah, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a younger version of Bruce Willis and the guy is uncanny. This goes beyond meer imitation. He’s not mimicking Bruce Willis, he’s playing this character as Bruce Willis would play him. It works so fucking well that you never ever question that these to guys who look completely different are the same person at different ages. Gordon-Levitt has some prostetics in the film, just a touch, to bring some of Bruce Willis’s features to lhis own profile, but it’s just a few visual cues, the performance is what truly seals the deal. Gordon-Levitt is a miracle.

Let’s talk about Bruce Willis for a bit. He is in fine form here. He’s weary, desperate, driven and oh so fucking ruthless. He sells you everything about the character, and he’s a guy who does some very questionable things in the movie, it takes a special kind of actor to do these things and not be completely despised by the audience (it also takes a great script, and we’ll get to that soon enough) and Bruce Willis, at this point, is just an actor of that calibre. After this and Moonrise Kingdom, I’m really starting to think that Willis can do it all. Acting is a muscle and you have to keep it in shape. You see a lot of older actors who were once great and just don’t seem to try anymore. Willis does. He’s never stopped. He keeps at it and man, he keeps getting better and better. I think Looper might be his finest day…

What about Emily Blunt? Yes, Emily Blunt is in this too. I’m debating going into a rant about the sad fucking state of female roles in Hollywood, but I’ll spare you. Let’s stay positive. I’m going to put it this way: We need more roles like Sara, the role she plays in Looper. It is wonderfully nuanced. Sara is a badass, a strong independant woman with a past plagued by mistakes and regrets but a strength and unwavering willingness to atone for these mistakes by making good with what she has now. And I want to stress that she plays a woman. Hollywood thinks if you want to make a woman tough in a movie you have to basically write a man’s role and give it to a woman. This is not that. Sara is a tough woman. She has values and hopes and regrets and this movie would not work if Emily Blunt didn’t play the shit out of that role. She nails it and it anchors the whole movie. Make no mistake: she is the soul of this film and the reason everything that goes on matters so damn much. She is the card that Looper keeps up it’s sleeve until just the right time (about halfway through the film) and then uses to form the perfect hand.

Kid Blue. Okay. I need to talk just a little bit about Kid Blue. He’s played by Noah Segan (who was in both of Rian Johnson’s previous films, and for whom the role was specifically written) and whenever he showed up I was happy. Kid Blue is a great character. One of cinema’s great fuck ups. He could have easily been a running gag in the film but written and played the way he is, he’s tragic instead. He’s a beautiful, tragic asshole trying hard to do the best he can strattled with absolute shit karma and it’s wonderful to watch. He is as much a reason this movie works so well as anything else. The reason he works so well is that he’s not an idiot. He’s a decently competent guy and a great villain but he’s got shit luck. It’s a ball.

I’m going to get to Rian Johnson soon, the real hero here, but first I want to shine some light on his cousin, Nathan Johnson, the composer for the film. That score is absolutely wonderful. It’s dark and heavy and looming, haunting, foreboding. It carries the movie, scene for scene, exactly where it has to go. It’s understated when it needs to be and gripping when it’s called for. It’s vital to the movie, like a pillar holding up the foundations of the movie, giving room for the emotion and the power to resonate. I stayed all the way to the end of the credit hoping to hear a piece of the score because I wanted to listen to it out of context just to see, and sure enough (after the fantastic blues song Powerful Love, by Chuck & Mac) a number from the score started playing and, even on it’s own, supporting no imagery, it worked perfectly, carrying a tonnage of emotional weight. Bravo, Mr Nathan Johnson, job well done…

Rian Johnson. Like most of my favorite filmmakers, he both writes and directs. So he’s the guy behind this film in two ways rather than one and in both he comes out looking fucking swell. Writting time travel is tricky. I’m of the opinion that the holy grail of time travel movies is Back To The Future. Forget the sequels, some love them and some don’t, but the first one? If there’s any justice in the world this script is studied in film school. It’s perfect. It’s time travel written to a T. So that’s my bar. There’s other great time travel films, of course, like Terminator, The Time Machine, Time after time, Twelve Monkeys (based on Chris Marker’s amazing shortfilm La Jetté), Time crimes (I haven’t seen that, I’m ashamed to admit, but I’m hearing amazing things about it). All movies that use the time travel conceit extremely well. And now we have Looper. I’ve seen it just a few hours ago and I’ve been accused more that once of being a master of overstatement (I get excited, what can I say?) but I believe that Looper has a place amongst the very cream of that crop, alongside my favorite, Back to the future, and all the other greats. The time travel rules that Johnson sets up early on in the film work like gangbusters. Best of all, he doesn’t spend the entire movie relishing in the science or ramifications of time travel, he takes a few minutes up front to tell you (and show you) the what of it all, and then he tells his story. So narratively, the movie flows extremely well, and yet after the movie you’re given the gift of the puzzle. Does it all work? What if this instead of that? Does it all make sense? It’s not every movie that warrants a few pints with your friends at your favorite pub discussing all the ins and outs of the story, but this one definitely does. I take a long time to tell you something fairly simple: this script is great. It isn’t light, either. This movie is not PG13, it’s rated R. It’s violent, gory, sad, thrilling, dark as hell at times, but also romantic, funny, infused with the golden standard of dialogues. I felt traces of film noir, especially upfront, with the voice over and the quick repartee between the characters. Everyone is given great lines here. A standout is the soon to be infamous diner scene, where Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, both playing the same guy, Joe, sit down to have breakfast and say their piece. It’s riveting to watch. So you have film noir elements, sci-fi elements and then, about halfway through, the whole thing pretty much turns, tonally at least, into a contemporary western. And it all works.

Because Rian Johnson, on top of being a fantastic writer, is a great director. I’ve said it before: he doesn’t fuck around. Along with his director of photography Steve Yedlin and his editor Bob Ducsay, Johnson makes this movie feel completely sorted out, instead of the thematic and tonal mess that it could have been, in less competent hands. The movie takes no time to find it’s rythm. This isn’t a roller coaster ride. It’s a movie that knows when to run and when to sit down and let a scene unfold and tension build (like the great westerns do, incidentally). It is impeccably shot and Johnson always knows where he needs to put his camera to let the intent of the scene take over without hitting you over the head with it. As an audience member, I always knew where I was. I knew, in a geographical sense, where every character was in relation to everyone else. Since I knew all this, the scene could just play out and I could just let it take me where it wanted me to go. In an action scene that is crucial. Fuck it, it’s crucial whatever you’re shooting, action or not. Bruce Willis has some emotional moments that Johnson shot so well (and that Willis completely nails), I felt myself choke up, knowing the horrifying truth of what this man was going through. That’s powerful filmmaking. That’s everyone on the team being at the top of their game.

That’s what LOOPER is. It’s a perfect storm. It’s everyone delivering a career highlight. It’s badass filmmaking at it’s finest.

If you haven’t seen Looper yet, stop fucking around :)

New Looper poster is cool. Extra points for absence of head in the clouds.

First teaser trailer for Rian Johnson’s fantastic looking LOOPER!

Catch it on glorious HD quicktime right HERE!

Some movies I’m super looking forward to in 2012

-The Innkeepers


A bunch of peeps I know saw it last Summer at the Fantasia film fest and they all loved it. It’s one of the few I missed out on and it’s coming out in February. There’s a trailer out there that I refuse to see. I’m going in this one clean.

-John Carter


Andrew Stanton follows in the footsteps of fellow Pixar wizard (yes, they are wizards, be silent) Brad Bird and makes the jump to live action. He’s adapting pulp classic The Princess of Mars, the first John Carter adventure, published around 1917 or something. People will inevitably accuse it of ripping off Avatar and Starwars and stuff. These people will have the whole thing ass over tits. John Carter was seducing otherwordly princesses before it got cool.

-The Cabin in the woods


When Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard team up to take horror genre conventions for a spin, you stop whatever you’re doing and you bask in their collective genius like the puny lesser human that you are. Or at least I will.

-Marvel’s The Avengers


Joss Whedon is given amazing toys and ressources to pit Iron Man and Hulk and all their buddies against something probably mean and rude. I’m there.

-Prometheus


Ridley Scott returns to the world his Alien franchise takes place in. I think this movies happens before all that stuff though. In any event it’ll look great. Also it has Michael Fassbender in it and I’m at least 5% gay for him.

-Brave


It’s Pixar doing a movie not involving cars, so I’m in.

-The Dark Knight Rises


Um. You really need a description?

-Looper


Ryan Johnson did an amazing film called BRICK, then he followed that up with a fantastic and completely different film called THE BROTHERS BLOOM. LOOPER is his third film, that’s enough for me. But hey, when it’s about future Bruce Willis being time machined back to the present to be assassinated by his younger self (played by regular joe Joseph Gordon Levitt) it seriously garantees my ass in the seat.

-The motherlovin’ Hobbit

(that’s not an official poster, there isn’t one yet)


I just like their hairy feet.

-Django Unchained

(that’s not an official poster, there isn’t one yet)


Quentin Tarantino is doing a cowboy movie about an escaped slave seeking vengeance or justice or something equally badass. Look, it’s Tarantino and he’s in my top five. I’m going.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’m forgetting a thousand movies but it’s 6 AM and I really should find my keys.

Later, film lovers

I envy Devin Faraci so much it burns. The motherfucker (I don’t really mean that) has seen a cut of Rian (Brick, The Brother’s Bloom) Johnson’s next film, the sci-fi time-travel action movie LOOPER, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That movie is coming out IN A YEAR! Here are his thoughts.