Looper Review


Words by Benjamin Pinsent

Science fiction is an interesting genre, it is based around actual science but it is a science that must be explained in the logic of the diegesis of the film. This enhances the reality of the film, even though things like warp drives, teleporters and time travel don’t exist in our reality, the film makes it appear that these fantastical technologies could be created.

Time travel is a whole different kettle of fish: the actual invention of time travel is one thing but keeping track of the separate timelines and paradoxes is something else. If a film does this poorly it can feel bogged down in what seems to be needless complexity. But if it is done right, the result can be a mind-bending ride through the fabric of causality.

‘Looper’ is set in the not to distant future of 2044; 30 years down the line time travel is invented, immediately outlawed and is only used by high level criminal organisations to dispose of a body. These gangs recruit people from their past to kill their enemies: to truly make them disappear, as we are told that due to tagging in the future evidence always floats to the surface. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Joe Simmons a Looper, who comes across his future self (Bruce Willis) who won’t lay down and die, because his life has become too comfortable to let go.

The basic premise is just that, basic. High concept things are mentioned and never explained, 10 percent of the population have telekinetic powers that they use to impress the opposite sex. There are drugs that can be used like eye drops. And last of all there is time travel, which the film goes out of its way not to explain. The weird thing is that the film does not suffer for it, the rest of the story is so absorbing that the audience is left not caring about the many paradoxes and temporal anomalies caused by Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt.

The cast is brilliant; Gordon Levitt himself is perfectly transformed into Bruce Willis, in look and mannerism. Young Simmons is a party boy, only focused on the now like his fellow loopers. Seth (Paul Dano) who is only on screen for the first part of the film leaves a lasting impression as an example of what happens when you let your “loop run”.

Willis gives his all as old Joe, who in his old age has simmered down, showing the lengths a man is capable of going for the one he loves. But the stand out of the piece is Emily Blunt, who after all her years in America finally pulls out a convincing accent.

Jeff Daniels also makes an appearance as the boss of the loopers, mixing that sense of humour with violence and anger that Albert Brooks did for ‘Drive’. All the characters play off each other wonderfully; each interaction deepens the character and advances the plot at the same time.

This film is a gift to watch. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin, places everything in a really tight plane of focus. The contrast between the foreground and background gives the film an extra edge. That, coupled with the use of colour, adds layers of meaning to an already thematically heavy movie.

The film represents an advance in the careers of everyone involved: from Levitt to Johnson, who previously worked together on ‘Brick’, to Blunt and Willis, who try things that they aren’t really used to.

It also shows us that a blockbuster can still have something deeper than just great visuals, it can have something to say with out giant robots and explosions every thirty seconds.

From this review and the others that have been written by the likes of the Guardian, one can assume that this is a film that every one must see this year. Rian Johnson promised us adventure with the trailer and he delivered with brilliant visuals, witty writing and a score that can “wub wub” harder than anything Skrillex will put out.

The Dos and Dont’s of Biographical Films – Part I

Words by Benjamin Pinsent

The biographical picture (or bio-pic) is a type of film that concerns a historical figure. This person may be famous for artistic reasons or have some sort of historical importance either in an event or as a commentator on an event. Creating a good bio-pic may appear easy but there are some obstacles one must avoid.

Don’t get confused with a documentary. This may seem very simple but a documentary and a bio-pic are very similar, both concern actual events and people. However the major difference is that a bio-pic is based on fictionalised real events. An event took place and it concerned the people that it did, however actions and dialogue are allowed to diverge from the actual if key points are met.

For example in the beginning of Walk the Line (2005) there is a conversation between a young Johnny Cash and his older brother; the scene may have been completely made for the movie but that isn’t really important. What was important was to establish the real relationship between the brothers.

Do make it about something. Again, this is not a documentary it is a film concerning characters that just happened to be real. Real life has none of what would be considered to be Hollywood realism, there are no character arcs or catharsis as life continues on. So a writer must pick and choose moments in the life of real people to reflect more on a typical three act structure.

Continuing with the example of Walk the Line (2005) Johnny Cash is given motivation provided by his father not loving him as much as his older brother. We also have a goal, his love for June Carter. We follow Cash through drug addiction and a broken marriage to achieve his goals and we feel sympathy for this character who gets the girl in the end.

Quote of the Day- The Princess Bride

Words by Benjamin Pinsent

Often criminally under looked by general audiences but adored by those who have seen it The Princess Bride takes the archetypes of the fairy tale world and turns them on it’s head.

Before Shrek was threatening a talking donkey with a smacked bottom, and dropping pop culture references so hard and fast it felt like hail storm, there was Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally) and Andrew  Schieman. Their lightning fast wit and creative characters played by great comedic actors like Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally) and Carey Elwins make this a must see for all.

Here then is a small section of the verbal delight contained in this gem of a movie:

[after Westley rescues her from the lightning quicksand]
Buttercup: We’ll never succeed. We may as well die here.
Westley: No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurt – no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that. Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.’s?
Westley: Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.
[Immediately, an R.O.U.S. attacks him]

Westley: Give us the gate key.
Yellin: I have no gate key.
Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, tear his arms off.
Yellin: Oh, you mean *this* gate key.

The King: [after a tender kiss from Buttercup] What was that for?
Buttercup: Because you’ve always been so kind to me, and I’ll never see you again, because I’m killing myself as soon as we reach the Bridal Suite.
The King: Won’t that be nice?
The King: She kissed me! Ha!

(none other than Peter Cook)

The Impressive Clergyman : Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…
[cut to Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik]
The Impressive Clergyman: And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…                    [cut to the trio again]
The Impressive Clergyman: So tweasure your wuv.
Prince Humperdinck: Skip to the end.
The Impressive Clergyman: Have you the wing?
[cut to the trio once more]
The Impressive Clergyman: …and do you,Pwincess Buwwercup…                                      Prince Humperdinck: Man and wife. Say man and wife.                                                 The Impressive Clergyman: Man an’ wife.