In the not too distant future time travel is reality and is used by the mob to dispose of someone who gets in their way. The send them back 30 years where a looper is waiting for them to take them out, leaving no evidence in the victim’s present and the murder untraceable. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper and knows at any time the boss could “close his loop”, meaning they would send his future self for him to kill in exchange for a large payoff. However, his future self (Bruce Willis) has other plans and intends to change the future and save his wife by killing her murderer as a child.
A lot of surprises for me here. Going by the trailer, I thought the drama stemmed from Gordon-Levitt discovering he had to kill his future self, but he was quite prepare for that. Didn’t know Emily Blunt was even in this, as she plays the mother of the child Willis must kill. Kudos on the American accent, Miss Blunt. Sometimes when a plot is not what I expected, I’m disappointed, but Looper had a lot more meat than I was anticipating.
With any film that takes place in the future, there’s a lot of world building exposition, and Looper is no exception. The first twenty minutes or so, you’re bombarded with a lot of information and key slang (like blunderbuss and TK) but everything has their place and importance. The future present here is a dirty and dangerous one, much like the world of Blade Runner. Gordon-Levitt’s Joe sleeps with prostitutes (or at least one prostitute), does drugs, and has a posing little weasel for a best friend (played by Paul Dano who seems to specialize in weaklings). While watching this film, I realized that Gordon-Levitt plays a lot of lonely guys, someone give the guy a hug!
2012 was a pretty strong year for kid performances and newcomer Pierce Gagnon is terrifying as Cid. I never wanted to see a kid get shot so much. He just is such a creepy little guy and while, yes, his mother loves him and sometimes he can look cute, but no good can come of him being allowed to reach adulthood.
One thing that bugged me was the excessive use of lens flairs. Once the action moved to the country, they calmed down, but early on it was driving me to distraction. I know people who hate on the use of shaky cam, but I find excessive lens flair way more obnoxious.
This was a strong year for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I give the guy a lot of credit, he’s becoming a star on his own terms. You can always tell what drew him to the project and he isn’t doing stuff for the paycheck. I look forward to more interesting choice from him in the future.

The Dark Knight Rises

I think anyone would agree that The Dark Knight was a tough act to follow. Nolan’s revamp of the classic superhero series is a stand-out of the genre and Heath Ledger received almost universal praise (and a posthumous Oscar) for his portrayal of the Joker. With Ledger’s passing, it raised the stakes even more. While Batman has faced countless villians in the comics and other incarnations, many are much too campy for Nolan’s vision, so he went with the lesser known but very brutal Bane (Tom Hardy), but to keep the masses happy, he threw in Anne Hathaway in a catsuit.
It’s been eight years since Harvey Dent’s and the public was told he was murder by Batman and only Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Bruce Wayne (aka Batman – Christian Bale) know the truth. Harvey Dent Day is a local holiday in Gotham, and Gordon’s life is falling apart due to the guilt. Wayne lives in a self-imposed exile somewhat crippled from injuries he endured as Batman. He encounters Catwoman (though she is never called Catwoman) as she steals his mother’s pearls and his fingerprints from his supposedly uncrackable safe. Meanwhile, Bane, a former member of the League of Shadows, is building an army in the sewers of Gotham. This is enough to convince Wayne to bring Batman back, much to the dismay of his butler and confidant Alfred (Michael Caine). After a showdown with Bane, Wayne finds himself in a legendary prison known as the pit, a hellish place that only one man, Bane, has escaped. He must return to form and return to Gotham, which has been taken over by Bane and other criminals and is facing a nuclear holocaust.
And now for the SPOILERS!!!!
As you can see this film has a lot of plot and not all of it makes complete sense. The biggest “Huh?” moment for me is when Bane hacks into the stock market and bankrupts Bruce Wayne. It was very well known that Bane held the stock exchange hostage that very day, so why isn’t this investigated more? Also, I also don’t know if I believed the big twist that Miranda (Marion Cotillard) was really Thalia Ghul’s daughter who was in cahoots with Bane to destroy Gotham. This was a surprising reveal, but it seems like a twist for the sake of a twist. I didn’t like this for two reasons: 1) I don’t believe Cotillard knows she’s Ghul in the earlier parts of the film. If you want to see an awesome twist, go watch Fight Club. When you rewatch it, you see the tightrope Helena Bonham Carter had to walk as Marla. This does not exist with Cotillard. She’s Miranda and then, suddenly, she’s Thalia. I’ve spoken about this with a fan of the Frank Black comics, where Thalia Ghul is a much bigger deal, so it was cool for him, but it fell flat for me. 2) It weakens the presence of Bane. As Thalia tells Batman her plan, Bane looks down on her like a puppy dog. This brutal monster, the one that escaped The Pit, the one who could bring Batman down, is some puppet on a string?
While it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight, I didn’t expect it to be. That said, Hathaway is a lot of fun as Catwoman. Caine is heartbreaking as Alfred says good-bye to the boy he promised to protect. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great as John Blake and really shaping up to be one of the most interesting actors of his generation. I wish we could get some Robin movies, especially since I’ve never been blown away by Bale’s Batman. Like the return of scarecrow as head of the kangaroo court, though if Ledger was alive, that would have totally been Joker’s role. Nolan is smart to gather so many top-notch actors (the cast includes four Oscar winners) because the performances keep you from noticing the plot holes, weaker spots, etc.
Overall a satisfying end to the series. Gives the audience a clear ending, while making them wish there was more to come.

Programming note: Will be out of town next week so my brother will be guest blogging for me.