Looper (2012)

It’s Going to Happen to YOU, It’s Not Going to Happen to ME!

Looper (2012)When I originally heard about today’s movie, I had exactly zero intention of watching it.  It reminded me of the movie Premium Rush in more ways than just sharing a main actor.  It also just seemed like a super basic action movie that really had nothing to set itself apart from any other random action movie I could choose to watch instead.  But, as my end of the year review was coming up, my friend Greg told me that this movie would probably have to be his movie of the year, even after we had both just seen Django Unchained, which ended up making third on my list.  I decided that I had to see it, and was actually able to accomplish that before the year ended, it just still didn’t make my list in any capacity.  And, since it didn’t make top or bottom of 2012, what level of mediocrity did this movie attain?  We’ll find out as I review Looper, written and directed by Rian Johnson, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, Xu Qing, Paul Dano, and Piper Perabo.

In 2044, Joseph Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for the mafia as a “looper.”  With Minority Report going on, the only way to kill someone is to have them sent through time with silver strapped to their backs to be killed and disposed of by Loopers so that no one would notice, since they weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.  The only caveat is that their contract will eventually end as well.  They know that their contract is at an end when the older version of themselves is sent back with gold strapped to their backs to be killed by the younger version of themselves.  When this happens, they are no longer Loopers and live with this gold until someone takes them and sends them back to the point when they kill themselves.  But this creates a lot of problems if the Looper fails to kill themselves, as Joseph finds out when his friend Seth (Paul Dano) fails to close his own loop, leaving the mob boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) to have to take care of the situation in a brutal way.  That doesn’t really help Joseph learn from his mistakes though because Old Joe (Bruce Willis) gets sent back and knocks young Joseph out.  Joseph has to fix the problem before Abe takes it into his own hands.

This movie was pretty fantastic.  It wasn’t quite able to make its way into my top list of 2012, but it was not far off.  The surface of the movie feels like a pretty standard action movie, but the science fiction stuff compounded with the time travel stuff makes this movie have a lot more going on under the surface than I would’ve expected.  Time travel always tends to leave a lot of plot holes in a movie, but I felt like this one was handled so deftly that I didn’t notice any plot holes at all.  I’m not saying they weren’t there, but I was so riveted by the story that I wasn’t bored enough to pay attention to trying to find any.  And parts of it were just shocking.  Like what Bruce Willis sets to doing when he gets loose back in time and decides he needs to stop the Rainmaker.  I couldn’t believe they went there.  The story actually has a lot of surprises in it, all the way up to – and including – the end of the movie.  The situation did make me laugh a little bit just because it seems the character Joe would fall in love with anybody as long as they helped him recover from his addiction.  Old Joe fell in love with the Asian lady because she helped him out with that, and Joseph falls in love with Emily Blunt because she helped him through his withdrawals.  Thank God Joe never met Dr. Drew.  That could’ve turned out weird.

The effects and action in the movie were all solid.  The look of the future was never over the top like Back to the Future Part 2 makes it look like it will be in 2 years, but they had enough going on that it didn’t seem exactly contemporary.  The most futuristic thing was probably those jet motorcycles they used.  Those seemed almost over the top, and also sounded like the land speeders from Star Wars.  There were parts where they looked a little goofy, but never enough to take me out of the movie.

The performances in the movie were all pretty great, but none of them ever really did much to give me cause to talk about them.  I heard a lot of talk about Joseph Gordon-Levitt and how he did such an amazing job becoming Bruce Willis, but I didn’t really notice that.  He did a good job in the movie, but he actually felt more like DeNiro than Willis to me.  I also heard a lot about how good the kid, Pierce Gagnon, did in the movie.  That one I totally agree with.  That kid was pretty crazy.

My expectations for Looper went from complete disinterest because of the trailers to expecting a lot because of the opinions of my friends.  In the end, Looper ended up being a fantastic movie that far exceeded my original expectations while not quite making it to the point where they met up with the hyperbole my friends used.  The story was fantastic and surprising, the action and visuals worked really well, and the performances were all completely solid.  I can understand not completely trusting this movie enough to purchase it straight away, but I imagine any rental of it stands a good chance of leading to a purchase.  Check this movie out.  Looper gets “I’m from the future.  You should go to China” out of “This time travel crap, just fries your brain like an egg…”

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There Will Be Blood (2007)

As Long As I Have Teeth, I Will Bite You

I honestly have no reason that I wanted to see today’s movie.  I guess it looked vaguely interesting from it’s trailers, or there was some Oscar buzz about it, or I was randomly clicking movies on Netflix.  No one can really tell.  It’s supposed to be a really good movie though, so I guess I’ll find out.  It did, however, take me a really long time to get it reviewed.  I got it from Netflix and let it sit on my desk for a while.  Then, when I tried to watch it, Netflix’s disc service let me down again by giving me a disc that was scratched to shit and unplayable.  I sent it back and got a replacement … which was also scratched to shit and unplayable.  Apparently this movie is popular with the asshole crowd.  But this second disc responded well to a go in the Game Dr., so I can finally present my review of There Will Be Blood, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Kevin J. O’Connor, Ciaran Hinds, and Russell Harvard.

In 1898, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a miner with the world’s shittiest lucky.  He mines some silver, but falls down the shaft and breaks his leg.  He then finds oil in the mine and one of his workers is killed when the oil buckets break free and smash his head, leaving his son to be adopted by Plainview and named H.W. (Dillon Freasier).  The fact that mayhem and death follow him around does nothing to slow his rise to a successful oil man.  One day, he gets approached by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), who sells Plainview information about an ocean of oil beneath his family’s ranch.  Plainview goes to the ranch and confirms the potential for oil, and then purchases the ranch from Abel (David Willis) and Paul’s twin brother, Eli (also Paul Dano) with the promise of contributing $10,000 towards Eli’s church.  Plainview brings the oil derrick to the ranch, and does not forget his own personal death and destruction.  An accident gets a drill piece dropped on a guy in the well, killing him instantly.  Later, when the oil explodes out of the ground, H.W. is right in it’s path and the impact leaves him deaf.  If you hadn’t yet noticed a pattern, you can expect that the rest of the movie will have death and mayhem will follow Plainview for the next hour and a half.

I have next to no fucking idea what was going on in this movie.  I would say this is a movie that I respect, but do not like.  It’s really confusing in parts, boring in other parts, but it still kept my attention and I had no idea why.  At first, the movie is just about Plainview’s rise to riches, and it’s fairly interesting.  At about the halfway point of the movie, Plainview starts going really insane for no reason that I can figure.  He mentions something at one point about hating all other people and wanting no one around him to have any success, but that hardly excuses beating someone to death with a bowling pin.  Plainview had a passionate hatred for Eli from almost the moment he met him, and I never really understood what drove this hatred either.  I grant that I also found that guy really annoying, but I would probably just react with a good bit of ignoring him as opposed to slapping the shit out of him.  This movie did such a bad job of keeping me informed that I didn’t know that Paul and Eli were different people until I started writing this review!  Finding this out didn’t really clear anything up either.  The movie was basically just a realistic depiction of the life of a oil man.  Not that I’ve ever worked as an oil man before, but I feel like I know all about it now … and it’s boring.  We get to watch everything, like the early drilling technology, the measuring of the fields, the real estate acquisitions, all of it.  And if that sounds boring, you’re right!  What I thought was interesting was that I still found it pretty interesting.  I think the semi-random deaths and mayhem – in conjunction with the music that seemed to keep swelling, regardless to what was actually happening – made me keep watching thinking that something interesting was about to happen.  At least half of the time, the music swelled up to Plainview picking up the phone, whereas the other times it swelled to the oil derrick exploding into flames.  A good example of this is the beginning of the movie.  It’s just Plainview working in the mine, finding silver, hurting himself, finding oil, killing someone, moving on.  Not a single word is spoken until 15 minutes into the movie, but I was still paying close attention to it.  The settings were also very nice, and the camera angles were usually pretty interesting.

The performances were … good … ?  Daniel Day-Lewis is a fantastic actor (at least that’s what I hear; I think this is the second movie of his I’ve seen), but he (and everyone else in this movie) made very strange choices for their characters.  Everyone in this movie had a stiff and odd performance, but it also seemed like all of them chose to do this, so I really don’t know what to say about it.  I found it off-putting, but it’s what they were going for.  Daniel Day-Lewis was by far the best performance in the movie, as he started off stiff and odd but migrated towards bat-shit crazy at the end.  Paul Dano was the stiffest and the oddest.  I found him irritating through the entire movie.  He gets pretty wacky when he’s casting the demons out of people as the evangelical preacher, but that’s not going to win him any points with me.  Even as a religious person, I found his amount of bible thumping very irritating.  Everyone else in this movie will just fall under the heading of “I guess that’s how you wanted to do this” performances.

I’m torn on what to tell you guys about this movie.  The story (and the movie itself for the majority) is pretty boring, but it manages to hold your attention with a couple of cool accidents and music that tricks you into believing another one is always around the next corner.  The performances are good, but they’re also very off-putting.  I found the movie interesting enough, and I respect it’s quality, but I don’t want to ever watch it again.  It’s just boring to me.  But almost everyone on Rotten Tomatoes loves the thing, so maybe I’m wrong.  But I’m not.  I think you should watch this once, but I do not promise you’ll like it.  There Will Be Blood gets “I see the worst in people” out of “Now run along and play, and don’t come back.”

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