Thursday, October 25, 2012


Recently I went out with co-workers to the same AMC movie theaters in the Courthouse section of Arlington that I saw Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar and Woody Allen's To Rome With Love. The movie theaters were pretty run-down and sorta nondescript but the company was good and the movies were okay.

This time when we entered the movie theater we discovered it had been radically transformed through an astonishingly luxurious (and expensive-looking) renovation. Atleast half the seats had been removed and replaced with cushy, red leather recliners that were more comfortable than the seats on most Business or First Class flights. Astonishingly, the price of the film has not gone up. I have now discovered my favorite place to see a movie in the Washington, D.C. area, perhaps in the country are the AMC Courthouse 8 theaters. Even in Los Angeles, a movie-going mecca, only the Arclight Cinemas have the level of service and style (individual seat reservations, gourmet food at the concessions, knowledgeable ushers!) equivalent to the newly renovated AMC theaters in Courthouse. But Arclight charges a premium (about $14 a ticket) for these enhanced amenities, while the AMC Courthouse tickets are just $10.75 ($11.25 for real3d). It's quite a bargain.

Looper has a very healthy rating of 93% on among critics. It also features a stellar cast which includes Joseph Gordon-LevittBruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and it is his vision which is the primary creative force behind the film.

One of the best aspects of the film is its visuals, which are outstanding. The film is set in 2044, in Kansas City, and the art direction and set dressing is managed cleverly to indicate the future without being too obvious or visually obtrusive about it. There are subtle touches, like the ubiquitous presence of solar panels, on cars and buildings as well as a general sense of decay which communicates that the film is depicting a very different world from our own. The costume designer cleverly has most of the characters dress in styles that we would recognize now and the script explains that "retro" fashion is very popular.

The most important aspect of the film is its plot, which simply is about Joe (Gordon-Levitt's character) failing to shoot Bruce Willis' character, who is Joe from 2074. Joe is a "looper," someone who shoots the people who bad guys from the future send back periodically. Eventually, he knows that the person sent back will be himself and he is expected to shoot his future self and "close the loop." Because this fails it leads to some typical mind-bending time-travel induces paradoxes, but the real impact of the film is given by Old Joe's relationship with a woman he meets during the 30 years of life he experiences before he shows back up to screw up Joe's life in 2044 as well as Joe's relationship with a woman and a young boy who (may) hold the secret to why 2074 is so messed up and why recently a lot of loopers are suddenly having their loops closed. The tension between Joe and Old Joe, who are technically the same person, but in different time lines with very different agendas, is an absolute scorcher of a central idea to wrap a movie around, and Rian Johnson pulls it off in style.

Overall, Looper is a surprisingly good science fiction thriller with a complex central twist that is effectively and stylishly executed.

Director: Rian Johnson.
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content. Release Date: September 28, 2012.
Viewing Date: October 23, 2012.

Writing: A-.
Acting: A.
Visuals: A+.
Impact: A-.

 Overall Grade: A/A- (3.917/4.0).

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