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Looper (spoilers)
  • Last night, I saw Looper. And then, this morning, I saw it again. I loved it the first time, and it was even better on the second viewing. It’s confident, charming, surprising, fun, smart, incredibly tightly plotted (despite a premise which may or may not be a bit flimsy, and which sort of begs for every sf nerd on the internet to tear it apart—a concern the film itself actually addresses at a couple of points); it’s incredibly well-acted, and, not that it’s a surprise coming from Rian Johnson, absolutely fantastically directed. It was an utterly fulfilling movie-going experience, and I can easily see Looper taking the top spot in my year-end best of list. (The other contender, The Master, was wonderful as well, a truly Great with-a-capital-G film, but left me wanting—which may very well have been by design, but it lacked closure all the same; Looper, on the other hand, challenges you and can be fairly cerebral at points, but it’s wholly satisfying.)

    I have a lot of thoughts on Looper, from how time travel basically functioned the same way it does in the Back to the Future trilogy, to how great the performances were, to how deeply unsettled I was by a particular scene, but for now I’ll just say that it’s without a doubt the best genre piece I’ve seen this year, and one of the best films overall as well.

    Anyone else see it yet? What’d you think?

  • I will come back to this later but IT WAS SO GOOD!

  • Yeah I really liked it. The ending I wasn’t quite sure on at first, partly cos I thought it would end around that shot of the kid on the train and was like OH GOD THIS IS DAMNING AND AMAZING, but now I’m okay with the ending the way it is, and it makes sense. Damn fine. Was the unsettling scene the one where the kid first does the thing he does? Cos that shot of him freaked me out.

    (There should be ways to white out text, which there probably are but I don’t know about it, so I can sound less euphemistic/incoherent)

  • I just edited the thread title to say that the thread contains spoilers.

    The unsettling scene was the torture one, for lack of a better way to describe it. All the torture took place off screen, but seeing it play out on future Paul Dano in real time was some seriously horrifying shit.

    Speaking of Dano, how fucking good was he? He wasn’t in the movie for very long, but he absolutely stole every scene he was in. I thought he was kind of channeling Crispin Glover a little bit.

  • I think I would have felt slightly let down if it had ended the way you describe, Anne. As it is, all of the themes of action and choice get brought to the fore, tying everything together, closing the loop, as it were.

  • Yeah the torture scene was HORRIFYING.

  • Oh yeah, I’d forgotten that bit. Ugh. I’d also forgotten it was Paul Dano; last time I remember seeing him was Little Miss Sunshine, which I didn’t like. I agree about him channelling Crispin Glover.

  • dano is just a brilliant actor. anne, check out there will be blood - he even outshines daniel day lewis in it.

    that torture scene was amazing.

    i loved everything about the movie, up until the girl and the kid. i was biased, because i already disliked emily blunt, but i felt that johnson should have either A) given us more reason to like blunt, and therefore more reason to care about her imminent death, or, even better would be B) - make the rainmaker’s future deeds carry more weight, like, bruce willis didn’t just want to save his wife, he wanted to stop the rainmaker from RUINING THE WHOLE WORLD.

    all in all, it was a really well made and enjoyable film, it’s just, when a movie ends the way that one did, i want it to feel like it was the only option, and like that decision was the right one. we can argue why he didn’t just shoot off his right hand, if you like!

  • Honestly - I thought the stuff w/ the girl and the kid was the heart of the movie; without it, it would have been a well-crafted, fun and thought-provoking genre piece without having much interesting to say.

    I like Blunt off the bat, and thought her character was well developed. I don’t think she needed to be made more likable, but I don’t imagine we’ll agree on that point.

    i felt that johnson should have […] make the rainmaker’s future deeds carry more weight, like, bruce willis didn’t just want to save his wife, he wanted to stop the rainmaker from RUINING THE WHOLE WORLD.

    But the whole point was that both Present Joe and Future Joe were acting out of self-interest alone. It didn’t matter how bad the Rainmaker was, what he did, because FJ didn’t give a shit about saving the world. As much as FJ lectured PJ for being selfish and acting without thinking of others, well, FJ was doing the same, really. It wasn’t that he wanted to save his wife, it was that he couldn’t imagine his own life w/o her. PJ was right; to save her, all he’d have to do is give her up. He couldn’t do that. PJ broke the loop by being compassionate.

    I know I can’t shut the fuck up about this movie, but one thing I was really taken with was just how well-crafted it is. You know how they say Chinatown is a perfect screenplay, where there is no wasted detail? That’s how I felt about Looper as well. I won’t say that it was necessarily on the same level as Chinatown, but it was so well-plotted, all the pieces interlocking perfectly. I think I could probably watch this movie a hundred times and get something new out of it with each viewing.

    The only things that even come close to being plot holes are really more about the ridiculousness of the premise in the first place, but I mean, you’ll have that with any time travel story. Like, I don’t understand why the mob only sends their targets back 30 years, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter, and it’s not the kind of question that’s going to keep me from enjoying the film.

  • I saw this yesterday. I thought it was good, but boy did I not enjoy it at all. It was much darker and more grisly than I expected; and there was no scene that relieved any tension or anxiety. I really don’t need to see that kind of film again.

  • What I loved about this film was the way it put all the pieces in motion and absolutely shamelessly refused to spend too much time with expository detail. It asks you to accept a couple of deceptively simple premises that seem well-supported by all sorts of thick description and ancillary details, but when it comes to the larger questions about the premise—like, if it’s impossible to dispose of bodies in the future how did Joe make a living as a gunman for three decades?—the film insists, as Willis tells JoGo, that it doesn’t matter. The stakes of the film aren’t determined by its conceit or its structure, but by the characters and their individual journeys. While you’re swept up in its narrative energy, I don’t think many people will spend time thinking about, say, the one deeply perplexing timeline fuckup, because there’s so much else going on that’s way more compelling than questions about the logistics of time travel.

    For the record, I thought Blunt was great (and I’ve never liked her in anything else), JGL was awesome and Willis was phoning it in. Actually, JGL’s Willis affectations aside (which were awesome), I think the role of elder Joe could’ve been much more interestingly cast.

  • What was the deeply perplexing timeline fuckup?

    I thought Willis was good. He seemed weary. That seemed right to me.

    I’m glad you liked it, Miles! I figured it was right up your alley.

  • You guys are so much better at being critical and insightful about film than I am. I love that about you guys. Now I wanna see this again.

  • Good movie. There was something holding me back from unabashed love, but I’m not exactly sure what. I may be with Coldforge in that I wasn’t expecting it to be so carelessly violent. I did, however, appreciate how deeply morally ambiguous it was.

    On the topic of Paul Dano, “Gigantic” made me commit to hating him for life. But despite that, I really like him in this (and in “There Will Be Blood”, and even in “Little Miss Sunshine”, despite my better judgement). I may secretly be a Paul Dano lover.

  • Agree with Coldforge and Aug: shit was way more violent than I expected, and I’m glad I didn’t inhabit that world much longer. But also, it was …not quite refreshing, but I appreciated it that they actually let Bruce Willis gun down one of the kids. That torture scene made me really physically uncomfortable, too. But that’s its own sort of accomplishment.

  • I liked this film, I loved Paul Dano, I thought the ending was ponderous as fuck, but by far and away the best bit of the film was when the kid has the bad dude up in the air slowly exploding - which in itself was cool - and everyone in the theatre gasped and then the guy behind me leaned over to his friend and said, with a tone of convincing surprise, “is this based on a true story?”

  • Garret Dillahunt is value added

  • also, dode was awesome

  • was the timeline fuckup the part where they show PJ shoot FJ on his little plastic sheet after FJ runs away the first time? I thought that was weird, maybe I missed something though.

    I really enjoyed this movie a lot. It was really violent which I usually do not like. It didn’t bother me too much in this movie for some reason. Most likely because it kind of fit into my own sort of bleak view of the future. In fact my favorite parts were just the way the future was portrayed, both futures. JGL was so excellent! I thought everyone was, really!

    Adam I have no idea what could have been done to make us care more about Emily Blunt than the idea that if the kid was taken care of he’d probably end up using his genius for good rather than for evil. Plus just her whole character in general. She’s great. I don’t really know why she had to have sex with JGL but you know sometimes you wanna get laid and there was some heavy stuff going on…

    WHICH actually reminded me how arbitrary relationships can be. FJ loved his wife because she saved him. PJ probably could have loved and married Emily Blunt for similar reasons. It didn’t really matter who it was because both relationships helped them change for the better.

  • oh fuck I realized that the thing where PJ kills FJ is how FJ even lives to be 30 years older, but I’m still kinda huh? about it. no sense in thinking too hard about it though guess.

  • yeah, that scene was FJ’s original memory of how it went down, basically. when he went back, he changed that on purpose, and that’s when the two timelines diverged.

    i meant care about emily blunt as a character, like, a little scene that would give us a reason for her to be less than just a 2-dimensional protective mother type. my personal opinion is that johnson just sucks at writing women, but he’s awesome enough at everything else that i can look past it.

  • Oh! I’ve seen this one, too, now! Very fun. Here’s some things I liked: (SPOILERS ABOUND)

    1) How Joseph Gordon-Levitt looked like Bruce Willis, but really he looked more like a fucked-up dandy.

    2) How Joseph Gordon-Levitt absolutely nailed sounding like Bruce Willis.

    3) The way this era of Bruce Willis has become a sort of parody of himself and it’s just like “Oh yeah, definitely this guy is unstoppable and will pile up bodies like he’s a goddamn nightmare. Duh.”

    4) That the filmmaker didn’t bother getting into the intricacies of time-travel. The diner scene where Willis says that thing about straws and diagrams had me wondering if they did actually write a scene explaining time-travel and were like “Fuck it, let’s just have Bruce Willis say something clever and dismissive.”

    5) Oh man, remember when that kid got shot in the face? Most movies would cut away when a child gets a bullet in the face (even if it just clips him). But this movie? No. It’s gritty. You get the impact head jerk and everything.

    Stuff I scratched my head at a bit:

    1) I also found the body limb removal scene unsettling (where future Seth starts losing body parts because past Seth is getting them chopped or whatever). Then I was like, “Hey, why would the bad guys even do this? They can just kill past Seth and future Seth dies, too.” Loop closed. I don’t know?

    2) Movie wrapped up REALLY quick. It’s like the movie had these intricate and difficult pieces where it’s like not everyone can get their way and all of a sudden… very quick bail out. I’m just not exactly sure why Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character pulls a martyr routine. Being with what’s-her-face makes him realize there are bigger things than him? I don’t know.

    Mostly, it was charming and I was totally glad I saw it. Sorry my post ended up being super long! Cheers!

  • but like what if you live in an apartment building where the rainmaker child is one of the tenants?

  • Captain said: 1) I also found the body limb removal scene unsettling (where future Seth starts losing body parts because past Seth is getting them chopped or whatever). Then I was like, “Hey, why would the bad guys even do this? They can just kill past Seth and future Seth dies, too.” Loop closed. I don’t know?

    They mentioned that this was making “too big of a change” or something like that. Which raises some questions in and of itself, but one of the rules of time travel in the movie is that you can’t make such drastic changes, or at least that it’s a really bad idea.

    2) Movie wrapped up REALLY quick. It’s like the movie had these intricate and difficult pieces where it’s like not everyone can get their way and all of a sudden… very quick bail out. I’m just not exactly sure why Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character pulls a martyr routine. Being with what’s-her-face makes him realize there are bigger things than him? I don’t know.

    I think it was mostly seeing himself, his own life, in the kid. Wanting to stop the cycle of violence that has lead him to the place where he is, along with the one that would lead to the kid becoming the Rainmaker.

  • Hoshi said: far and away the best bit of the film was when the kid has the bad dude up in the air slowly exploding - which in itself was cool - and everyone in the theatre gasped and then the guy behind me leaned over to his friend and said, with a tone of convincing surprise, “is this based on a true story?”

    I finally got to see the movie last night, and loved it immensely, so I just now opened the thread; despite my great affection for the movie, the above is still head and shoulders above anything in the film itself.

  • Also, after hearing coldforge talk about how unrelentingly grim it is, I was pleasantly surprised by how palatable it was, overall. In fact, I now I kinda wanna re-watch the grimmest film I’ve ever seen, Peter Watkins’s The War Game.

  • So good!

  • What Jed’s trying to say is that he admires Looper’s commitment to community service.