Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rian Johnson is the new Chris Nolan

Special guest writer: Christopher Clemente

I've been excited for Looper since that bad-ass image of Bruce Willis first appeared wielding a machine gun and an angry face.

My face is the opposite of happy
Actually, I've been waiting for this movie since it was announced that Looper was to be Rian Johnson's next feature film. Johnson, who's previous films include Brick (which is available on Netflix Instant and also stars Joe Go Lev) and The Brothers Bloom (a Wes Anderson-esque quirky-but-not-Zooey-Deschanel-quirky caper starring Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody) has finally arrived to the mainstream as a solid director who can tell an original story.

And Looper delivers. Plain and simple. The plot revolves around a not-too-distant future when time travel is possible and the mafia sends its victims back in time to be killed by hitmen known as Loopers.  Young Joe (played by Joe Go Lev) plays one of these Looping assassins, and things start to get sticky when the mob sends back Old Joe (Bruce Willis)-- an older Young Joe--and Young Joe can't pull the trigger to kill an older version of himself.

Confused? Who cares--I don't--and neither does Johnson. The film sets up a lofty and confusing sci-fi premise and then boldly dives into exploring major themes that don't concern time travel paradoxes. The movie ends up captivating you because of its deviations from the time-travel and action genre expectations, and throws you in a character-driven direction that you could never have guessed from all the marketing (trailers and posters alike).

Inline image 2
Director Rian Johnson on the set of Looper

But then, this movie reminds me so much of Inception. I'm not even talking about the Joe Go Lev (3rd time I've said that) connection. I'm talking about the distilling of a complex sci-fi story grounded in practical action, and making it palatable--meaning it garnered acclaim from critics and audience members alike (I think palatable is what I mean? Trying to say it was a generally "likeable" film). 

Johnson achieved a feat similar to Christopher Nolan, and that's why I think he will become the next Nolan. He will become a brand. It will become an expectation that he will deliver "original" content in the trite swamp that is the current Hollywood system of remakes and yada yada you've heard it all before.

Side stuff:
-Johnson directed one of my favorite episodes of Breaking Bad--"Fly" in Season 3.
-It was rumored that Johnson rewrote the script to have some of it take place in China because that was the only way that a Chinese Investment company would back the film and give it money. It also was mistakenly reported as receiving more money in China on opening weekend than in the US, a mistake which was corrected when it found out that they didn't take into account the exchange rate for the Chinese Yuan (really?)
-If you wanna watch a time travel movie that deals exclusively with time traveling paradoxes, check out Shane Carruth's Primer. If you look closely in the end credits, Carruth is credited under "Special Thanks" in Looper.

Editors Note: The producer's name is Ram Bergman. Shotty that as my porn name if I were a man in the porn industry


Steph Sessa said...

I usually hate time travel but I love JGL (a much better acronym btw) so I had to see it. I thought it was decent but pretty straight forward. I was waiting for more twists and turns. I think they handled the aspect of time travel really well because usually it just hurts my brain or I think it's stupid; this movie did it really well. JGL was awesome, despite his altered face of Bruce Willis (totes weird).

Christopher Clemente said...

I'll have to politely disagree with you about the movie being pretty straightforward. I think the lack of twists and turns create a character study that shows more depth than your usual run-of-the-mill action movie, yet still managed to be entertaining and accessible and totally not what I expected.

As for the prosthetic face, I personally didn't have that much of a problem with it. I liked that it forced JGL to give a cool performance of playing a young Bruce Willis. I also read an interview where Johnson admitted that he was super nervous about doing the prosthetics while on set, but ultimately decided to do it because of JGL's dedication to the role.

PS: Joe Go Lev > JGL