Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Looper (2012)

Delay of gratification is hardly fashionable these days. In 2044, even less. So working as a looper makes sense, offering clean murder services to crime syndicates whose hands are otherwise tied by extensive body tagging. Instant cash, never mind what happens 30 years later. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) explains the premise:

In the future, time travel is outlawed, used only in secret by the largest criminal organizations. When they need someone gone and they want to erase any trace of the target ever existing, they use specialized assassins like me, called loopers. The only rule is: never let your target escape, even if your target…is you.

Therein lies the crux of the plot. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) travels back in time to hunt down a certain child and prevent a disastrous future, in the process endangering Young Joe’s life, whose looper contract forbids such a dichotomy. The two Joes struggle against each other, culminating in a final face-off at a Kansas farmhouse owned by Sara (Emily Blunt), whose son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) just might be the feared Rainmaker.

With all this going on, it’s not surprising that the film projects an Inception-like feel. Director/writer Rian Johnson makes his own mark on the sci-fi genre though. The movie handles information well, and it is a clash of motives that drives the conflict, not external antagonists (although we have those too). Looper owes a lot to its impressive cast. Gordon-Levitt delivers as usual, and Willis reprises a role he’s practiced to perfection: shooting down bad guys in the name of love and leather jackets. It is Blunt who surprises us with a highly emotional scene—which she pulls off without a hitch. And Gagnon gives new meaning to creepy child prodigy when he goes past mere precocious to ultra-powerful. Also, although these hardly alter the overall effect, I appreciated little touches like Gordon-Levitt’s make-up and Blunt’s tan. While they can be distracting, I recognized the added effort to lend authenticity to the movie.

Time travel is always a tricky territory to navigate. But Looper provides a caveat early on, and one that we readily agree with at the film’s conclusion. “This time travel crap,” Abe says, “just fries your brain like an egg.” This might seem like a cop-out, but it’s not. The film plays out so elegantly, so neatly (it’s a “closed loop” after all) that one would be hard-pressed to come up with a better solution. It’s not so much that there are no plot holes, but that the film holds you in thrall so effectively that you don’t want to find them, you don’t want to spoil it by thinking too much. Sure, Looper makes leaps of logic (what sci-fi movie doesn’t?) and characters make lousy decisions, but that’s part of the act. And it’s all synchronized so well that you don’t feel the need to look behind the scenes and dispel the magic. Those of you who want to take up the challenge and fry your brains, go ahead and try. As for me, I don’t need to make heads or tails of this. I’m happy with this violent, ambitious, splendid mess.

‘I’m from the future. Go to China.’

‘I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.’

Pulp Fiction (1994)

I cannot believe it took me so long to watch this. I’ve had a copy of it for months now but only got around to watching it a few days ago with Maki. Because it’s from Quentin Tarantino, I had expected it to be brutal, violent, and downright gory. Instead I found it extremely hilarious, witty, and inventive. I enjoyed every minute of it, even those times when the on-screen tension had me half-covering my eyes in expectation of gunfire. But even then it was hardly as bad as I had supposed. Hostility remained at a tolerable level, and was not at all the focus of the movie.

Dialogue takes center stage in Pulp Fiction. There’s often so much going on in any one scene, but still I found myself paying prime attention to the eclectic conversations. And it’s not just the actual lines themselves I found interesting. There’s also something riveting in the way the characters say them, effectively drawing viewers into the moment with them. The breakfast scene (Mike’s favorite, I think) typifies this quality extremely well. Plus it’s also one of the most tension-filled scenes in the entire movie. In it, the tension in the atmosphere surmounts line by line even as the characters prate on about hamburgers. The banality of the topic made the anticipation even more excruciating.

Both in form and content, this movie showed a level of inventiveness that is perhaps unprecedented in my meager film-watching history. Upon first watching it, I did not know what to make of it. It was entirely new to me. Presented in a non-chronological manner, the movie interweaves the lives of several characters from the Los Angeles underworld, including the scheming boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), gangsters Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), as well as their boss’ wife, Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman). In the space of seven sequences, the film creates a plot that manages to be ridiculous, ironic, and strangely acceptable all at the same time. My disbelief didn’t even get a chance to rear its scrutinizing head. I was ready to accept anything the film threw at me, just like that. Because Pulp Fiction is the kind of movie that takes you along for the ride, no questions asked. But trust me, after that ride, you definitely won’t have any complaints either.

‘Now look, maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but, you know, touchin’ his wife’s feet, and stickin’ your tongue in her Holiest of Holies, ain’t the same fuckin’ ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport.’

‘Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say ‘what’ one more goddamn time!’

‘What’s more chickenshit than fucking with a man’s automobile? I mean, don’t fuck with another man’s vehicle.’

‘Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?’ ‘That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.’

‘Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go home and have a heart attack.’

‘The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.’

‘I used the same fuckin’ soap you did and when I got finished, the towel didn’t look like no goddamn maxi pad!’

‘I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems.’