Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

“Looper” (2012) – Movie Review

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Writer / Director:  Rian Johnson

Stars:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Pierce Gagnon

The year is 2044, and Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper.  A Looper is a hit-man in the present working for the mob from 2074, after time travel has been invented and outlawed.  Joe’s job is simple.  He’s given a time to be at a certain spot.  When that time arrives his hooded target appears before him, Joe blows him away with a blunderbuss, collects his bars of silver, and disposes of the body in a furnace.  Eventually Joe will kill his future self, collect a large payment of gold, retire, move away, waste all his cash, find the woman of his dreams, get detoxed off the drug of the day, and live happily ever after.  At least until that day he gets grabbed, hooded, and sent to the past to meet his younger self.  That’s the deal Joe makes to become a Looper.

But what if something goes wrong?  What if Old Joe (Bruce Willis) wants to change the deal?  What if Old Joe wants to get rid of the main mystery man who took over the mobs and started getting rid of all the old loopers?  What if Old Joe wants to get rid of the Rainmaker before he becomes the Rainmaker?  Well, then Present Joe has a problem.

Rian Johnson creates a dystopian future where the separation between the haves and have-nots is to the extreme.  Human life has no value, and the refuge of society wander the country like hobos of old.  Law and civility have broken down where the average citizen can shoot a thief in the back with impunity, and the police report to the mob.  It is also a world very much set in our reality.  New “motorcycles” that hover share the road with cars & trucks that have been retrofitted with solar panels and Miatas that are considered classic cars.  A world with sleek skyscrapers, poor row house neighborhoods, and 100-year-old farm houses.

As for the story, at its simplest it is The Fugitive.  The Rainmaker is the one-armed man, Old Joe Dr. Kimble, and Present Joe Agent Gerard.  But at the visceral level it is a story of how far someone will go.  How far will a mother go to defend her son, a man to protect his wife, a person to protect himself.  Though in some ways aspects of the story are predictable, how it gets you there is totally unexpected and refreshing.

The success of the film rests solely on the shoulders of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Present Joe is morally and emotionally bankrupt.  His “friends” are other Loopers, his “girlfriend” a hooker, and he is a junkie.  Bruce Willis as Old Joe has found peace in his life, and is now willing to die to protect it and the one he loves.  He’s John McClane from Die Hard but older.  Emily Blunt is Sara, a mother and farmer.  More importantly, Emily Blunt owns this role.  You understand where she is coming from and what she is willing to do to protect her son.  You also see why Present Joe grows as a human in her presence and their interactions.  In effect, Present Joe becomes Old Joe without the thirty years of history.

Looper is a film that stays in your head after you are done watching it.  You think about it the following day.  Your appreciation for it growing with each new thought.  I didn’t know where Looper was going to go when it started, but I can say that I never expected it to take me where it did.  And for that I thank the entire creative team.

Grade = A-

Movie Confessions Blogathon

A fellow movie review blogger, MyFilmViews, invited me to be part of a blogathon.  In this case the theme are movie confessions.  Below are my answers to the questions sent followed by some thoughts:

  1. Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?  The Night of the Hunter.  I know it is meant to be surreal.  I know it has one of Robert Mitchum’s greatest performance.  I know it is a misunderstood masterpiece.  And I know “The Preacher” is one of the most iconic characters of all time.  But I also know when I saw this film for the first time my reaction was underwhelming “Ehh”.  It didn’t do anything for me.  I neither loved it nor loathed it.  It didn’t stay with me and pop into my mind from time to time.  
  2. Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?  The 400 Blows, The Apartment, Taxi Driver, Gone with the Wind, Do the Right Thing, The Seven Samurai, The Seventh Seal, Some Like It Hot, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Battleship Potemkin
  3. Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?  To the best of my memory, no.
  4. Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?  Katherine Hepburn.  I’m not saying she is a bad actress, but for someone that appears to be acting the same way in all the limited films I have seen her in I can’t believe she has been nominated twelve times and won four.
  5. From which great director have you never seen any movie (and why)?  Ingmar Bergman.  I have no good reason why I have never watched any of his films; I just don’t feel any urge to.
  6. Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?  Hudson Hawk.  It’s #1 Guilty Pleasure, and I have no idea why it is hated so much.  It’s not great art, but it’s a good popcorn movie.
  7. Have you ever been one “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?  Borderline yes.  I don’t remember if I was having a conversation with my mother or returning a phone call to my sister with her, but we did it while the end credits were rolling.  Since this was done after the film and during the credits, I am not sure if it qualifies.
  8. Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because a specific actor/actress was in it?  Which one and why?  In a theatre no, but at home yes.  I’ll usually watch anything with Harrison Ford and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I’m a big fan of both and try to watch all their films.  Best example of this would be G.I. Joe.
  9. Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?  No
  10. Are there any movies in your collection that you have has for more than five years and never watched?  The 400 Blows.  But after a recent review by AndyWatchesMovies I set a goal to myself to watch before Labor Day–first weekend in September.
  11. Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?  Though not from my point-of-view, but Hudson Hawk.  Also Candy, which is the worse movie ever made starring the most number of famous people.  I keep it just for that reason.
  12. Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?  My TV is small; it is in an armoire with the doors typically closed unless we are watching the TV.  As such, and movies I watch with a lot of action I usually watch laying on the floor in front of the TV instead of the sofa behind the coffee table.  Otherwise it is difficult for me to see all the details of the action.
  13. Any other confessions you want to make?  I’m typically biased against European films.  I stereotype them as being painfully slow and poorly edited.  I know this is not true, but I blame a film school professor of mine who loved those types of films for giving me this perception.  Most people naturally assume I am a sci-fi film fan, but I have actually seen very few of them. I am not a fan of gross-out horror films.  I usually watch comedies as rentals and not in the theatre.

So there you go, my answers to the questions.  Overall I had a great time working on this.  It reminded me there are still a lot of classic movies I have not watched yet, and reminded me that liking a film is purely subjective.  We all have out guilty pleasures that we like to watch and other people will give us an odd stare for.

As a thank you, here is the link to MyFilmViews post on these questions, as well as other bloggers who are participating:

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Also, here are some links to earlier posts of mine that touch on some of my responses to the above questions:

“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) – Movie Review

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Director:  Wes Anderson

Writers:  Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Stars:  Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton

Though I am a fan of the look of Wes Anderson’s live-action films, I am not a fan of their stories–Royal Tenenbaums the exception.  Moonrise Kingdom will also be an exception.  It is a modern fairy tale set in the 60s, and the time & setting work to Anderson’s strengths–perfectly constructed and choreographed worlds.

The story begins with multiple tracking shots through Suzy’s (Kara Haywood) house on the island of New Penzance.  The feel of the shot is similar to looking through the backend of a doll house where all the rooms face the front.  We quickly learn Suzy comes from a family that believes in education & culture, has three younger brothers, has parents that are possibly having issues, and she has issues as well–always with her binoculars and always looking for something.

Next, we don’t meet Sam (Jared Gilman).  It’s morning at Camp Ivanhoe of the Khaki Scouts.  As Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) walks-thru the camp during the morning ritual he performs spot inspections, minor disciplinary actions, and settles for the morning breakfast with the troop.  At breakfast he learns Sam is missing by his empty chair.  He and the troop head to Sam’s tent and enter.  Perplexed by how the tent could be empty because the zipper was closed from the inside, he soon finds a hole cut through the tent behind a map of the island.  Scout Master Ward then calls the Sheriff, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), to tell him about the missing scout.  Later Sam & Suzy meet in a meadow and continue their journey together on the island.

That night during dinner at Suzy’s house, her mother Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) is told by one of her sons Suzy is missing and has run-off.  After telling her husband Walt (Bill Murray) they are visited by Captain Sharp in his search for Sam.  Quickly Laura discovers both children are together when she finds a collection of letters & water colors detailing their relationship and plan to get together.  What follows is a journey of young love, tired adults trying to find purpose and do what is right, and the challenge of keeping Sam away from the hands of the Social Services (Tilda Swinton).

This is easily the most identifiable and relatable of Wes Anderson’s films.  Though the world is idealized and you know it will have a happy ending, you can connect with each of the characters and where they are coming from.  All the main adult characters are well-developed, and also take their journeys as they search for Sam & Suzy.  Captain Sharp realizes the loneliness & monotony of his life and does something about.  The fastidious & meek Scout Master Ward gains confidence and takes charge during a crisis.  Laura & Walt know something has to change in their marriage for better or worse before it leaves them hollow inside.

But most important this is about Sam & Suzy finding each other and who they are.  Too young to have the happily ever after ending of most fairy tales we have been accustomed to, we know the kids will be all right.  More importantly, we know that Sam & Suzy are what they need for each other now but not necessarily forever.

The acting across the board is solid.  The success of the film rests solidly on the shoulders of Gilman & Haywood, and they deliver.  Their interactions together are sweet, endearing, and genuine.  These are two kids discovering romance with all the awkwardness and lack of self-consciousness that entails.  Gilman & Haywood also have a great chemistry together, and come across as two people who honestly care for each other.

The look and the feel of the movie is reminiscent of old sun washed-out photos.  The exterior scenes are over saturated and have a yellow tint.  The feel is like you what you visualize when your eyes are closed telling about your first kiss at summer camp.

Grade = A