Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Looper, by Rian Johnson, 2012

Most Hollywood science fiction movies kind of come and go.  I mean, look back at the 90's, they came out all the time, but only a handful of them are even remembered, and even fewer fondly.  The ones that stick around are the smart, thoughtful ones with vividly imagined worlds and thought-provoking ideas.  Not far into Rian Johnson's latest film, Looper, I realized that this is going to be one of those movies that science fiction fans are still watching and talking about 30 years from now.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe, a man employed by organized crime to kill people sent back from the future.  They pay him well, with the understanding that sooner or later, he will have to "close the loop", by killing his future self.  Things go awry when his future self (Bruce Willis) gets the drop on him and escapes.  Now Joe must---

Jim!  We have to hurry!

What?  Who are you?

Don't you recognize me?  I'm the you of 2042.

Oh my god, it is you, me.  Why are you here?

I came back to warn you that 30 years from now, nobody is watching or talking about Looper. 

Oh no!  How can this be?

It's our fault.  It's our review, Jim!  It was so poorly written that President Honey Boo Boo had the movie outlawed.  Real Steel is being played 24 hours a day on 3-D supertelevisions around the globe.

NOOOOOOOO!!  I have to stop this horrible future from happening.  But HOW?

There's only one thing we can do...

What...?  What are you doing with that gun, future me?  No.. NO!

I'm sorry, young me, it's for the good of the future...


He... he shot me... then disappeared... that must... mean... I'm not going to... make it.  Only... time... for one last act.  Must click... Publish... tell the people... about... LOOPER... never forget...  Tell my wife I...


  1. Hey there, Jim. You don't know me and I don't know you. So, bear with me: I was Googling David Wain, after a talk with my gf about how I wished he'd make a new movie soon and that it would be just as good and unpolished and cult-worthy as Wet Hot (which is beside the point) when I stumbled on your blog. I read through a few reviews and was struck by how often your sensibilities match up with mine. I'm not sure, from a critical standpoint, that I can say you're "on point" (because I really don't and never will understand truly "objective" film criticism) but it was so refreshing to finally come across one of these blogs where the reviewers reviews not only matched up with mine, but matched them in weirdly specific ways. The fact that you've not only seen Minnie and Moskowitz but also consider it a "favorite" and that you can openly admit to enjoying Adam Sandler's early comedies (I still have Billy Madison forever imprinted on my 28 year-old brain and often use quotes from the movie in everyday conversation--because people LOVE that...). Also, that you appreciate the work of Ralph Bakshi. I live in Indiana, where no one's heard of Bakshi, much less Cassavetes or any of my other fave movie-making weirdos, so--as you can imagine, being a weirdo cinephile in a place like this can be pretty lonely.

    Anyway, I noticed you haven't updated the blog in a while, which is a bummer. And, also, if you could maybe (as ridiculous as these are) offer up a top ten list or something, since you and I (anonymous, questionably-creepy Internet stranger) seem to like so many of the same movies.

    I think, if I had to make a top five list, it would be something like:

    The Shining
    Minnie and Moskowitz
    Welcome to the Dollhouse
    Jacob's Ladder
    Alice (Svankmajer's, not Allen's)

    and, maybe throw in Rushmore or Herzog's Stroszek as alternates.

    I don't know. I'm also partial to Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (which I saw that you reviewed, by the way) and other Czech New Wave stuff, if that gives you any idea of where I'm coming from.

    It's a bummer you're not updating this anymore, but--hey, at least you reached out to one Internet weirdo, so that's got to count for something, right?

  2. Hi! Thanks for posting. I'm really glad that I could reach you in some way with my goofy reviews. I know they're not always "on point", I'd probably be a terrible critic because I like almost everything I watch. I just really enjoy digging up movies and sharing them with people who may not dig much deeper than what's in the theaters or what they grew up with or whatever. A lot of my favorite reviews are the ones where I just try to be funny.

    I stopped writing for a couple of reasons. Mainly because my wife and I moved back to Chicago and I am working a full-time job (the bulk of these reviews were written during a year in Texas purgatory where I had nothing else to do). After moving here, it quickly became clear that I just didn't have the time I used to, and writing the reviews was cutting into my scant movie-watching time. The other reason was that I just wasn't as happy with a lot of the later reviews. I felt like I was running out of ways to just say I thought something was good.

    As for all-time favorites, I go all over the place and it probably changes all the time. I love old Japanese movies and silly, surreal comedies and weird culty movies. In no real order here are some of the big ones:

    Kurosawa's High and Low
    The Royal Tenenbaums
    The Wicker Man (original, not Nicolas Cage)
    My favorite straight-up comedies are probably Wet Hot, The Jerk, and Bedazzled. And of course Minnie and Moskowitz totally blew me away.

    Thanks again for reading and feeling inspired enough to reach out to me. It was totally awesome to wake up to this this morning. I always wanted to get back to writing these things at some point, but I think I would need to find a different approach to it if I did that.

  3. Hey, it'd be cool if you did get back into the whole blog thing--but I understand...life happens.

    Also, I hope you don't think that "on point" comment was a dig at you or your reviewing style. I come from a lit background, so I've seen my fair share of blowhards interpreting things from all the wrong angles--reading Freudian or Jungian or Feminist subtexts into things where no Freudian, Jungian or Feminist subtext exists. I just meant that: like Roger Ebert (who is another critic I admire--Blue Velvet review not withstanding), I like that your reviews read like they were written by a real-life human being--someone who actually likes movies and can talk about them intelligently without dropping a bunch of names or pooping all over your reviews with fru-fru academic speak.

    I look forward to working my way through the list you gave me--the titles I haven't seen anyway. In the meantime, I recently watched a movie called the Telephone Book on Netflix--an experimental sexploitation (used very loosely) film from the 70's, written and directed by a guy who later went on to write for SNL during its first seasons. My apologies if you've heard of/seen this film already--but I hadn't heard of it until last night and, after watching it, I was blown away. One of those rare gems (excuse the cliche) like Minnie and Moskowitz that's gritty and uneven and artsy in spite of itself, but still leveled in some reality where people talk like impressions of people and have no filter.

  4. Hi, sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. Anyway, I didn't see it as a dig at me. I'm actually really happy that I reached you with my reviews. I tried not to intellectualize things too much. I just tried to write like I talk. I only ever took Intro to Film back in college, so I'm far from an authority, but I like to think I know my stuff fairly well despite all that.

    I haven't seen The Telephone Book but it sounds like something that would be up my alley. It has been added to my Netflix Queue. I recently watched and dug Elaine May's directorial debut, A New Leaf, with her and Walter Matthau.