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Monthly Archives: October 2012

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Ten Word or Less Review : Atlas does more than shrug.

We live our lives again and again and again in a seemingly rigged cosmic craps game where we fight against the powers that be over and over and over in an unending struggle of the righteous underdog against the overbearing power of manipulative, controlling evil.  Or as one character so pointedly puts it, “The weak are meat and the strong eat.”  There.  Everyone’s been trying so hard to summarize Cloud Atlas I figured I start off with that and get it out of the way.  It took me a couple of tries to phrase it right, and I still like that line from the movie more, but that about sums it up.  Atlas spans six individual tales taking place in six different periods of time, from the mid-19th century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future, all interconnecting with one another on a thematic level, but sharing a story element that connects one story to the next.  The character in this time reads the letters of the character in that time.  One character in the future watches a movie adaptation of one character from the past.  It’s all extremely ambitious and admirably executed in the hands of the sibling Wachowski’s (The Matrix) and German director Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run).  The trio of directors have set an amazing project in front of themselves, one few others would ever attempt.  Not many filmmakers try to make a movie which encapsulates the EVERYTHING of our lives.  All the effort though hasn’t quite delivered the awe inspiring masterpiece they clearly intended to make. Cloud Atlas works so hard that to not at least respect the effort is to needlessly spit on its shoes.  But to love the thing, that may be asking too much.

David Mitchell’s acclaimed novel which inspired this epic gamble of effort was considered by most to be unfilmible, which is a silly cliche to say about a book because anyone can set out to film anything, the devil is in the details.  Mitchell’s novel presented the first half of 5 narratives in chronological order, each one interrupted abruptly mid stream.  In the middle sat the sixth story of a world on the verge of extinction, after which the back half of the first five stories played out in the reverse order of which the books started.  Think of it like this: 1 2 3 4 5 6 5 4 3 2 1.  Got it?  It’s not that hard to follow and the structure made for a compelling novel.  Each story worked on its own terms and while Mitchell started hammering his theme home rather bluntly by the end, one had to admire the circuitous nature in which he pulled off his work.  The Wachowski’s and Twyker, knowing full well that this format won’t work for their movie, have thrown all the narratives together and run them consecutively, like little girls weaving together shoe laces.  The most amazing thing about Cloud Atlas is that the format, confusion and incoherence rarely enter the mix.  Some future gibberish speak may shoot past a few ears.  Each story is deftly sewn together into the other, careful to construct a fabric which the viewer can follow.  This technique of sewing the stories together accomplishes a large goal but sacrifices another.  The overriding theme that each story shares is crystal clear.  The individual stories though have lost their importance.

A reader can pick up Cloud Atlas, read any one of the six tales and find themselves enveloped in a high quality piece of fiction.  In their zeal and determination to shoehorn in all the narratives of Mitchell’s novel, as well as be respectful of the central characters of each, the screenplay to Atlas all but abandons the details which made the stories work on their own.  They’ve been stripped down to such bare bone narratives that they hardly work as individual stories.  Atlas the movie demands that we take in all the narratives concurrently, slowly building into a grand scheme we can appreciate.  Thus, a good 90 minutes or more go by before one feels genuine pull into this massive story of cosmic karma.  That’s a long time to wait around to be engaged by a movie.  If Atlas hooks you sooner, then you’re in for a rare cinematic treat.  If not, you may start clock watching before you reach it’s bigger, satisfying moments.

How does one go about casting six different stories for one movie set in different eras and nations?  You use the same  actors over and over, applying generous amounts of make up.  This gimmick works wonders for some but embarrasses on others.  Tom Hanks slips into most of his parts with genuine conviction.  He is by turns a poor, goat herder in the future, a scheming, buck-toothed doctor in the past as well as an Irish hooligan writer of today.  He has no singular showstopping moment but the effort as a whole is the first time he’s pushed himself as a performer in quite some time and its fun to see him in something as singular as this.  Halle Berry appears fleetingly under heavy makeup, her turn as a white lady goes by with no dialogue, but her major roles are mostly prosthetic free and she does well by them.  Hugo Weaving suffers the worst in this game of make up decreed age and ethnicity.  His turn as a nasty, green skinned, subconscious lurking demon named Old Georgie that whispers nasty suggestions to Hanks emotionally shaken goat herder of the future, all while wearing a ratty top hat, is Weaving at his scenery chewing best.  But in another story he’s buried under a monstrosity of a forehead in a botched attempt to pass him off as Asian.  It looks like a silly joke and it’s not even the worst of it.  He’s also been done up as a nasty female nurse in a freedom depriving old folks home.  It’s as if his Agent Smith from The Matrix married Nurse Ratchet form Cuckoo’s Nest and this is their sinister offspring.  Weaving’s drag getup is ridiculous and completely takes you out of the movie.  This hit and miss system draws far too much attention to itself.  One stops watching the movie constantly to keep playing this game of spot the actor under the make up.  Without this needless distraction one would be more inclined to appreciate how good Jim Broadbent is in his multiple roles, as well as be equally annoyed that Susan Sarandon is wasted in not one but four parts.  Kudos though to whoever did Hugh Grant’s transformations.  See how long it takes you to spot him as a cannibalistic warrior decked out in face paint and tattoos.

The rest of the production is handsomely mounted which makes the bizarro make up even more perplexing.  The Wachowski’s and Twyker utilize sophisticated special effects as well as beautiful location shooting to accomplish their multi-century set story.  There’s little to fault on a technical scale.  The film score is routinely gorgeous, that haunting melody from the preview plays through out, and all the participants can take some sense of respect away that this was all done without a major studio behind the wheel.  No studio would ever fund such unorthodox material.

I pick at this admirable creation for it’s slippy narrative and lousy make up but I still have to recommend seeing it.  It’s unlike much of anything which has come before it and there will likely be little else to come after that resembles it.  Sadly, works like this always seem doomed to financial failure and divisive critical response.  It gets to go sit in the corner with Aronofky’s The Fountain as another piece of high minded, spirit gazing cinema no one would bother to see.  It may have a strained narrative one struggles to involve oneself in but if you keep giving it a chance, you may find yourself wrapped up in that rare thing at the movies, a real work of art.  I can never bring myself to truly slap someone down for being this brazenly creative.  In an age where commercial movies are so uniformly rote, and independent movies commonly cynical, to experience a movie like this should be appreciated, warts and all.

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The Hole (2012) – A hole lot of nothing.  8 P


The once great Joe Dante (Gremlins 1 & 2, The Explorers) returns to directing after a long absence and the result is as depressingly shitty as the last movie he made, 2003’s crime against humor Looney Tunes: Back in Action.  Flat as a pancake run over by a semi then stomped on by a passing marching band, The Hole feels like some BS Halloween flick made for the ABC Family crowd that would suck even by those Hellishly low standards.  The screenplay is derivative, the characters common and annoying, and the entire thing put together with only the most rudimentary sense of style.  Only one sequence with a demon clown puppet hints that the twisted bastard who made Gremlins might still in there somewhere, straining to get out.  But honestly, if you can’t make a sequence with a demon clown puppet even a little creepy you’re probably blind.  It comes as no shock that this turd sat on a shelf for 3 years before recently being unceremoniously dumped into a few theaters and released to On-Demand providers.  I’m sorry Mr. Dante, but if this is all you have left in the tank, stay retired.  You and the John’s, Carpenter and Landis, can hang around and reminisce about past glories over golf, scotch or hookers.  Whatever makes you happiest.  Just stop directing movies.

Warlock (1989)Terminator in a witch hat.

Terminator and Warlock, a comparison.  A robot/witch from the future/past comes to the modern age via time travel to ensure the destruction of mankind by killing an unborn child/assembling a demonic book.  The robot/witch is followed through time by a rebel fighter/witch hunter trying to thwart it’s evil plan.  Once in the present a waitress gets entangled in the battle to save the world.  The robot/witch kills her roommate and sets her on the run with the rebel fighter/witch hunter.  In the end the plan to destroy the world is thwarted and the robot/witch destroyed but the rebel fighter/witch hunter is killed/sent back to the past much to the sadness of the waitress.  Warlock turns a few things around in this formula, Terminator had no Amish folk, but otherwise it’s a cheesy horror effort that tries to use the power of British thespianism, Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant, to lend the whole thing credibility.  It doesn’t work.  Not horrible but definitely one to file in the ‘who cares’ folder.

The Tall Man (2012) – Greatest movie Jessica Biel has ever made. So it’s okay.

In a backwoods Washington state town where hope and opportunity have evaporated, the children start disappearing with no trace.  Before long the distraught parents and citizens are constructing an ominous myth around their disappearing kids, the Tall Man.  A mysterious stranger in a long black coat, some believe this child snatching apparition to be no more than a construct of grief and desperation, others claim to have seen the shadowy menace and want the authorities to take the idea seriously.  The town nurse, Jessica Biel, does her best for a despondent population but one night, the Tall Man appears at her door and snatches her son.

Biel has been trying to get out of the babe role for a decade now.  The gorgeous girl has fame, fortune and a resume full of bottom barrel shit no one can stomach to watch more than once, if that.  She’s decided to pull a Theron and ugly up for the part of small town nurse chasing her son.  But she doesn’t look ugly so much as anemic and light deprived.  The script also takes some purposeful steps to beat her character up a bit.  It isn’t enough she go pale, she needs to get roughed up too.  I don’t think Biel has great oceans of depth as an actress but there’s no reason for her to continue to languish on as superficial eye candy for the XY chromosome crowd.  Her performance here is more than adequate and she sells the story, even as it starts to lose its grasp on probability.

More thriller/mystery cinema than the horror film the movie bills itself as, Tall Man is a very decent and respectable movie experience, if totally convoluted by the time its over.  It’s admirably unorthodox screenplay keeps its secrets under wraps in fairly intelligent fashion and while the viewer may put it all together before the film throws its cards down, it never overtly tips its hand.  Tall Man has a grim, rain soaked style and the unpredictable story works enough to keep your attention.  If the plots convolutions and finale don’t make you guffaw then you might find it an appreciative aside to the typical horror nonsense which populates the likes of Netflix.

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Ten Word or Less Review : Ben Affleck is now more credible than Matt Damon.

I think it might be reasonable to assume that before he’s done with Hollywood, Ben Affleck might snag himself a Best Director Oscar.  After a career flame out that would leave most actors cast into the ranks of second rate TV shows, as well as raging alcoholics  Affleck has built a second career for himself as a respected director of mainstream dramas.  They still make them.  I’m shocked too!  With Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now Argo, there’s little doubt that the one time celebrity whipping boy has the eye for mature material few filmmakers will bother with in our superhero obsessed age.  And while some are giving Argo big Oscar chances I don’t think Affleck’s Iranian hostage drama has escalated him to the master class.  But he’s getting closer.  Argo is very high quality but stamping it the best of the year speaks more to the poor quality of the year than any overpowering quality of the movie at hand.

In 1979 the U.S. gave sanctuary to Iran’s ousted Shah, a loathed national leader whose return to Iran was demanded by students and militants to face charges of crimes against the people.  I.E. they wanted to hang his ass Saddam style.  With the U.S. refusing to return the Shah, Iranian protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy and took the 52 staff members hostage, a well documented political drama that took more than 400 days to resolve.  Little known to anyone at the time, six employees snuck out a back door and took refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador.  After a couple of months of thumb twirling and situation watching, enter Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA ‘exfiltrator’ charged to get the U.S. workers out of Iran under the nose of an increasingly unstable and violent government.  There are people being hung from construction equipment in the street.  Gun wielding thugs are going door to door looking for anyone who might be anti-Ayatollah.  Mendez’s escape plan for the six trapped workers?  Argo.  A fake science fiction movie which will have him enter the country posing as a movie producer scouting locations and subsequently use the embassy workers as his fake movie crew.  An absurd idea given credence by the fact that it’s absolutely true.

Affleck lovingly hearkens back to the style of 70’s cinema for his hostage drama.  He digs up the old Warner logo that graced screens during the Lumet age, the oblong one that looks like Morse code, and immediately establishes that this movie is a stylistic throw back to those socially conscience and gritty pictures of that tumultuous and confused decade.  He’d probably like Argo to fit seamlessly into a triple feature with All the President’s Men and Network.  Affleck’s direction is designed to not only reflect movies of the age but the era and the event.  He meticulously recreates pivotal situations, stay through the credits, and is careful not to overdramatize or action up the situation to where it no longer hangs onto any truth.  I’d argue that this is an admirable trait for Argo to follow through with but at the same time a nagging problem.  With Affleck determined to respect the situation as is and avoid overreaching dramatic flourishes or embellishments, Argo comes across as a good, sturdy procedural but doesn’t break that boundary   The tension never ratchets up to where it would probably like it to be.  By respecting the events so reverently, he doesn’t transcend the forgone conclusion that is his story.

Affleck’s portrayal of Mendez is as low key and rooted in a desire to be truthful as the rest of the movie.  He doesn’t embellish Mendez with a lot of outward character or forced quirks.  Marriage trouble and a desire to be close to his son is about it.  He chooses to play it subdued and real and the result is a good performance, but something a little more rambunctious or intense may have made Argo more inherently gripping.  If Pacino had played Mendez 30 years ago it may have become a signature role for the legend and Argo would probably have seethed and tensed a little more in its center.  The big personalities are here but they’re in supporting roles.  Alan Arkin and John Goodman knock out the delightfully profane banter, ‘Ar go fuck yourself!’, as a producer and make up artist who take up Mendez’s noble cause.  You wish the cantankerous, back talking duo had gone to Iran with Mendez just to stir the pot a bit.  Bryan Cranston finally gets a supporting role on his resume that he doesn’t have to feel remorse over taking.  It’s his fifth movie appearance this year, John Carter, Rock of Ages, Red Tails and Total Recall, and I’d wager a big nickle that it’s his best.  The actors tasked with playing the six hostages all seamlessly resemble their real life counterparts, once again watch the credits, and make just enough impact for us to care about their fate.

Argo is high quality in many ways, if not really elevating or transcendent in the end.  It does show that Affleck, who showed an eye for action with Town, can take a more subdued road and make it work.  I think calling it a classic or must win Oscar choice is a knee jerk reaction in a flimsy year of mainstream cinema.  It’s a respectable effort from a guy who has had to work very hard to get any respect at all.  Now that he’s got it, let’s hope we can continue to bank on it.

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Ten Word or Less Review – Scarface gets old.

Brian De Palma, the hack bastard of all hack bastards, can make wretched cinema like few others.  Not content to just make a bad flick, he takes resounding dumps right on screen which soil your brain for life.  His list of failures is massive and his output over the past 20 years has been consistently awful.  Even in his so called heyday he made unmitigated shit like The Fury and Body Double.  Even classics like Dressed to Kill annoy me endlessly.  But even a dogs ass catches a ray of sunlight some days and on occasion De Palma stumbles into a decent movie despite his dogged attempt to make a big celluloid stink.  The Untouchables is classic movie escapism of the highest order.  Blow Out is a shockingly grand achievement.  And after missing it time and time again, Carlito’s Way turns out to be a pretty decent entry in the modern gangster genre.  It’s perhaps the last time the sun shone on De Palma’s tuches.

Carlito feels like a pseudo apology to the world for that wretchedly misconstrued piece of pop-art dogshit that was Scarface.  An epic joke of overindulgence, vulgarity and lunacy, Scarface has spent decades being idolized by society’s zero class, moron, wanna-be-a-thug population.  If you know someone with a Scarface poster on their wall get better friends.  It stands as an overriding example of how legions of people can watch something and completely miss the point.  Looking to delve back into the crime genre and avoid any dunderheaded interpretations, De Palma and star Al Pacino go back to the gangster well and craft a story of lost opportunity around an aging hood.  After 5 years in the clink, Carlito Brigante is sprung from the joint because of the diligence of his lawyer (Sean Penn).  Back on the street and facing middle age, he plans wholeheartedly to walk a straight line and retire to the sunset, but just a few hours into freedom there’s a gun in his hand and dead people at his feet.  We know Carlito is doomed, it’s simply a matter of us caring one way or the other.  The viewer has to simply cross his fingers and hope De Palma’s arch, overreaching tendencies don’t derail the effort.

Coming off an Oscar win for Scent of a Woman, Carlito firmly entrenched Pacino in the worn down, middle aged Tyrannosaurus of a man  he so magnificently played for about a decade.  Between Woman, Carlito, Heat, Any Given Sunday and Insomnia Pacino had a very admirable run of material in which he excelled.  Devil’s Advocate was a magnificent piece of showing off.  For Pacino, Carlito is a hypothesis of what happened had Tony Montana not snorted a mound a blow and shown those gunmen his little friend.  He instead jumped out the window and got old.  Where there was bravado and bluster, there’s now calm and a semblance of wisdom.  Carlito really does want nothing more to get out, but like Pacino famously uttered three years earlier in his derided Godfather III, they keep pulling him back in.  He adds a graceful narration to things which give the movie an occasional calmed spirit it uses to its advantage.

Pacino is ably backed up by a solid supporting cast headlined by Sean Penn as his curly headed, Jewish lawyer.  Penn does excellent supporting work here, portraying an inherently weak and scheming type.  It flew in the face of the grim, macho persona Penn had catered to till then and it’s a fine example of the diversity he’s capable of when he wants to reach for it.  Also surprising in a typical girlfriend part is Penelope Ann Miller.  I never gave Miller much credit for screen presence and her subsequent vanishing from the movie landscape as the 90’s wore on seemed to validate the thought, but she holds her own and proves a solid presence against the always intimidating Pacino.  She’s clearly too young for the part and it’s an underwritten role but she makes it work for what it is.  Luis Guzman is also here playing Luis Guzman.  As far as I know Luis Guzman has never not played Luis Guzman.

Now we come to the De Palma factor.  The big BD can make the greatest actor in the greatest scenario look like a second rate hack if he gives into his unchecked, Hitchcock worshiping instincts.  The man rarely found a cinematic situation he couldn’t over direct in a heartbeat.  And while he’s working at an elevated, melodramatic level he stays just on this side of bearable.  He at times flirts with turning Carlito into grandiose visual excess but Pacino keeps the thing anchored and respectable.  Having a decent screenplay and a dedicated leading man help to no end when your director seems adamant about turning his movie into delirious, soap opera popcorn.

For me and De Palma it’s been a long, bumpy road.  Some nice ups punctuated with major downs.  I don’t have much left of his resume left to pick over.  A few lesser efforts that even his worshipers seem to make little fuss over.  I doubt I’ll get to them.  It’s nice to leave things on a decent note.  From now on when Carlito plays on cable I’ll be inclined to stay on the channel and enjoy the ride.  But with my luck I’ll just happen across Mission to Mars or Snake Eyes again.  Why does anyone watch Mission to Mars?

April Fools Day (1986) – This ‘too straight faced for its own good’ horror film tries to separate itself from the pack of what then roamed the cinematic horror movie landscape.  Instead of falling into the killer with a gimmick and a quip genre that defined the age, Fools eagerly tries to carve itself out a place in the history of trickster cinema.  A group of college chums head off to an isolated mansion for a weekend of booze and sex with their best friend Muffy hosting   After a lot of setup one nincompoop after another wonders off into a dark corner and never returns.  It’s a notch above the decade’s trashier efforts but despite the attempt to be different the overall result is not much more than a lackluster slasher effort with a twist ending most people should spot a long way off.  Sometimes taking the high road gets you nowhere.

Nightbreed (1990) – A wild idea with lots of potential gone unbelievably wrong.  Clive Barker’s ambitious monsterfest surely inspired the adoration of Guillermo Del Toro as the creatures from this film would be right at home in a Hellboy flick.  The makeup effects are almost worth the effort to sit through an otherwise completely incomprehensible serving of monster schlock.  Craig Scheffer plays Boone, a guy suffering wild nightmares filled with ghastly beasts of all kinds.  Boone visits a shrink played with surprising sense of creepy by David Cronenberg.  The shrink convinces Boone he’s killed dozens of people in his sleep.  Boone takes off for a cemetery where all the creatures of his dreams live underground.  He’s killed by the police but comes back to life and becomes one of the monsters.  The shrink wants into the land of monsters where Boone has gone.  There’s a worried girlfriend who wants Boone to be human again.  Freaks galore wonder the landscape.  It goes on and on and on and on and on.

Each and every scene of this mess feels as if crucial information has been sliced away, leading the movie to feel like a haphazardly designed jigsaw puzzle with it’s pieces jammed together whether they fit or not.  Example, the cemetery where all the monsters and freaks live is just there.  It takes no effort to get to or enter.  You just drive there and walk in and there’s the freaks.  It’s well documented that Barker had to edit out about 25 minutes of material to make the studio happy.  Maybe that 25 minutes makes all the difference in the world.  Maybe the movie would still be junk.  I’d bet a few bucks the truth lies somewhere in between.  It’s an interesting mess as it is and those fond of creature effects should love it but if you wait around for it to make sense, you’ll wait in vane.

The Innkeepers (2011) – Director Ti West is an admirable student of the less is more horror film.  His 2009 effort The House of the Devil wasn’t all flash and gore and morons walking into death.  It was a slow burner horror effort that unfortunately culminated in a goof ending that made the slow journey getting there feel like a bit of a waste.  The Innkeepers feels similar.  It’s a textbook haunted house effort that is made with just enough finesse and skill to provide some restrained scares, but its final beats skewer the overall effort.

Two hotel employees (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) wind down their tenure at a grand old hotel about to shutter its doors forever.  With just a random guest or two,  the duo pursue their quest to find a ghost in the hotel.  Of course there is one and as demanded by such movies, it’s a meanie of a spirit.  When I say Innkeepers is textbook I kid not a bit.  West has the spooky movie playbook in his lap and he follows it step by step.  Creepy noises, ominous hallways, all slowly building into the occasional gotcha moment.  It’s routine, sort of a Shining Jr., but it works well enough even though West doesn’t kick or shake the wheels of the ghost genre.  He strips it down to its barest essentials and lays it out which would be fine, but then he dumbs up things at the last second.  To reach his mandated ending of doom West has to wade into stupid waters. His dodged refusal to shake things up or try something new screws up his movie in the last lap and the otherwise solid effort wilts in the end.  If a decent, old fashioned scare is what you want, and you don’t mind the clunker finale, Innkeepers is decent October viewing.

The Master – Ten Word or Less Review: Two guys act up a storm.  Don’t know why.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s acclaimed feature is an enigmatic, perplexing and antagonizing experience.  Rarely could you praise two performers (Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman) as highly as this, hold a deep appreciation for Anderson’s unparalleled technique as a filmmaker, Master is never less than exquisitely composed, and still feel thoroughly disinclined to recommend the end result to anyone.

Phoenix’s portrayal of Freddie Quell, a WWII vet/pervert/raging alcoholic/whack job, is complete in its dedication and hypnotic to watch, but the man refuses to grow into anything beyond the perverted screwball we meet in the first scene.  Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, like Phoenix, is an equally blistering performance worthy of praise, but in service of what I know not.  If Hoffman is supposed to be L. Ron Hubbard, of which there’s little doubt, he does neither the man nor the Scientology movement any favors, but a larger purpose feels vague.  Anderson’s screenplay refuses to reconcile why Dodd keeps Freddie as his close satellite for so long.  We wait and wait for some kind of arc or narrative point to present itself but good luck with that.  Their relationship peaks half way through the movie.  The two men dance around each other for the remainder and when their final scene together culminates, it’s a long moment of head scratching.  The whole thing feels like a master class acting lesson taking place for the entertainment of its creators, everyone else be damned.

LooperTen Word or Less Review: Back to the Future with lots of shot guns.

As good as you’ve heard, but not exactly what you’re expecting.  In the decaying America of 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a looper, kills people sent back in time from the future where murder is impossible to get away with.  You’re paid in silver attached to your victim’s back and your last kill, with a golden payday included, is an older you.  When Joe’s older self appears to be disposed of (Bruce Willis) the kill goes wrong and Joe’s older self escapes and begins a grim crusade to save the future he’s just been stolen from.  As young Joe chases old, things get stranger, deeper and more malevolent.

Looper is sci-fi entertainment at its finest. Those hoping for, or perhaps dreading, a high-minded, existential crisis about meeting yourself aren’t going to get that.   You can feel echoes of previous sci-fi efforts (12 Monkeys, The Terminator) echoing off Looper’s walls but it still manages to feel fresh and original.  It also makes some unorthodox and challenging character choices and doesn’t tippy toe around its harder narrative turns.  It’s R-rating is well deserved and those expecting some kind of flippant, flashy chase movie are in for a bit of a shock.  Director Rian Johnson realizes the time travel plot with a sure hand, embracing and running with the ludicrous nature of his story.  Instead of getting hopelessly bogged down in the plausibilities of going back to the past he has twisted fun with the concept and gently nudges plausibility aside.  Levitt and Willis make good sides to the same coin.  For Levitt, in subtle make up to give him a half acceptable Bruno resemblance, it shows he can move past charm and good looks to play something a little more desperate and edgy.  Willis gets to play aged and shoot people so it’s right in his wheel house.

Trouble With the Curve Ten Word or Less Review: Gran Torino for the ABC Family crowd.

This movie is boring as Hell.