Looper is frackin’ awesome!

And it proves that originality still exists in Hollywood–whew! I was getting worried.  Not only is Looper original and brilliantly constructed, it is one of the BEST sci-fi films, involving time travel, that I’ve seen in a long time.  It joins the ranks of Primer and 12 Monkeys, (in my opinion) and brings Writer/Director Rian Johnson‘s score sheet of awesome to 3 out of 3 .

Time travel can be tricky because there are so many variables and little inconsistencies that, like a loose thread in a sweater, can unravel the entire premise and narrative.  Although I am sure that some are searching and can find those threads, overall Looper clears the most difficult hurdles and delivers an intelligent, tight, action filled story that relies more on character exploration than convoluted space-time continuum plot points.

You guys know already that I will not divulge anything about the narrative (no summaries here to spoil the unexpected :)), but I will tell you why I loved it.

Let’s start with the story.  Like I mentioned it tackles time travel in an original way and creates a futuristic world that feels organic and plausible–from cars and weapons, from drugs to lifestyles, it all feels right.  What Johnson does extremely well is focus on the human factor, instead of anything else and at its heart Looper plays out as a morality tale about what extremes a person will go to, to protect the ones they love.  I loved that no one was the clear hero–all the players in this story were damaged and tainted–and yet, we are able to find the humanity in all of them.

(Badass Mondo Poster)

The awesome story was played out by a pitch-perfect cast.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to confirm my ongoing love affair with him! 😀  Since Brick (Johnson’s début film) and Mysterious Skin, I have been on the JGL fan wagon and have yet to be disappointed in a performance.  This kid has some major talent and this role highlights this in a big way.  Then there is Mr. Bruce Willis–the one and only.  Willis is a badass.  We all know this.  And I love when we see him tackle a role that allows his badassness to be enhanced and magnified and yet shows his vulnerable side too.  (Damn.  They are both so awesome! It’s crazy how much JGL channels Willis and the make-up is sick!)

 

 

 

Emily Blunt is almost unrecognizable in a role that is a departure from anything I’ve ever seen her play and she nails it.  She is strong, yet fragile and you can help but root for her.  Then there is Pierce Gagnon–at merely 5 years old (at time of filming)–this kid is incredible!  I have not been this impressed with a child actor since little baby Dakota Fanning in Trapped.  WOW!  That is all I can say because his character is amazing to discover without any prior set-up.

Okay.  Story? Brilliant.  Acting? Top-notch.  Music? Perfect.  Make-up and Effects? Super cool.  I think that about does it.  Go watch it!  You are in for a hell of a ride!

Also, let us remind Hollywood that we want to see NEW ideas on-screen.  It is possible and when it happens, we must support original and awesome content.

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The Dark Knight Rises does NOT disappoint. Thank you, Mr. Nolan!

I am solidly in the LOVE camp here. I have read a few mixed reactions, but my experience was pure enjoyment and satisfaction. Christopher Nolan has created a realistic, thought-provoking, epic trilogy, that will forever be a classic. The Dark Knight Rises meets expectations and delivers entertainment in a grand scale.

I was fortunate to be able to take part in The Dark Knight Marathon and revisited the first two installments, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, on the big screen before the midnight screening and it was awesome. It had been at least a year since I’ve seen either and watching them back to back did add depth and increased my emotional investment in the story.

Side note:  Honestly, I will have to declare that as much as I was satisfied with TDKR, the second film (TDK) is still my favorite. How could it not be? It has one of the BEST villains of all time with (the greatly missed) Heath Ledger‘s iconic Joker and with a structure and narrative that are near perfect. It is truly brilliant.

Maybe watching them together allowed me to be able to appreciate Nolan’s intricate storytelling even more. He tied all loose ends and revealed threads that connected to the first film. I am impressed by his ability to weave such a complicated, intimate narrative while still keeping the scale broad and big. What is amazing is that he created an intelligent, action movie–that plays out like a character study. He takes his time and in the process allows the greater themes to be addressed and examined.

Nolan explores what would really happen to the Batman if he were in our real world and Christian Bale delivers beautifully. Bale knows Bruce Wayne and Batman. He has grown into this character and this is his finest performance in the series. (I was excited from the first announcement that Bale would be Batman–it’s validating that he has done so well. Go, Christian!)

 

The series regulars, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, are all stellar (as usual).  Oldman, who I love to a fault, is fantastic and gets the chance to give Commissioner Gordon more depth. But, I have to give a special shout out to Caine for his Alfred, who had some wonderfully emotional scenes. Yes, I did spill over a few times. 😀

How about the new players? Tom Hardy continues his awesome streak as Bane. Hardy is able to portray more with just his eyes and body language than most actors can. His Bane is imposing and scary.

 

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the man! I love this kid! He is one of the best young actors out there–period. His body of work, to date, is already impressive and this is one more notch in his career. His Detective Blake is the heart of the story–the average every-man–who wants to believe in heroes.

 

The shout out though has to be Ms. Anne Hathaway‘s Selena Kyle (Catwoman–although she is NEVER called that–I love the realistic twist they gave her). She nails this character. Sexy, smart, slick, capable yet vulnerable and complicated. Hathaway steals the show. She has some of the best scenes and the biggest laughs. All I can say is WOW!  The only character I felt was underdeveloped was Marion Cotillard‘s Miranda Tate–Cotillard is lovely, but I did not ever get to know her until the end.

You all know that I will not delve into plot or details–I went in blind except for the first trailer and loved all the little surprises that were waiting for me. I want you to have that too. What I will say it that I loved how it ended. It felt…right. I applauded and cheered. I walked out with a smile on my face. I can sit here and find plot holes and character inconsistencies but the bottom line, is that this is Nolan’s vision and at the end–I was happy. I will always revisit this universe and feel happy. And isn’t that all the really matters? Yes. It is.

 

50/50 = 100% Awesome!

Balance.  That is a tricky feat in Hollywood storytelling.  Many films struggle to find the right tone or direction–and sometimes you find it–the perfect balance.  50/50  sounds like a downer–a young man is diagnosed with cancer and we get to watch his experience.  Woohoo!  Fell good movie of the year–right?  Actually…yeah, it is!  I laughed out loud, cried a bit and LOVED every minute of this film.

I should also tell you that I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He continues to impress me.  From 3rd Rock from the Sun to Inception.  His young career is filled with memorable, wonderful performances and 50/50’s Adam is another one to add to the list.  If Joe doesn’t receive an Oscar nomination I will be upset because his Adam is layered and nuanced.  An everyday guy faced with a difficult roadblock on his life’s  journey.

A nice surprise is Seth Rogen.  Who I like, but can be a bit annoying sometimes.  Not this time.  As Adam’s best friend Kyle he shines.  All his strengths are highlighted and he very funny.   Add a fabulous Angelica Houston,  the adorable Anna Kendrick  and a getting good at being nasty,  Bryce Dallas Howard and you have a strong supporting cast.

The biggest credit must go to screenwriter Will Reiser, who was inspired by his own battle with cancer and has created this lovely, heartfelt, funny and realistic story.  His timing is perfect.  Just when you think it is too deep or serious, the tone changes smoothly and you find you are laughing–even if you don’t think you should be.  I will keep an eye on this guy.

Not to be overlooked is the director Jonathan Levine.  He directed the little known gem titled The Wackness back in 2008 (if you haven’t seen it–check it out–it is quietly good).  He deftly tells this story by showing details rather than telling you.  It works.  You learn more about these characters by these actions, than by anything they could have said.  I will definitely be watching his career.

Dez and I were lucky to get to a preview screening of 50/50 and we both agreed it is one of our favorite movies of the year–so when it goes wide on September 30th–put it on your MUST see list!  You will not regret it!