Saturday, October 06, 2012

Looper and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

We went to the flicks to see Looper this week. We're both fans of time travel tales. I'm a longtime Bruce Willis fan from his days, long ago, in Moonlighting. Looper didn't disappoint as much as fire me up to untangle the confusion in which some elements of the story, or rather the order of its telling, had left me. Later I spent a long time reading online others' views on a few apparent plot-holes.

I'm wary of writing too much about Looper in case I spoil someone's fun. I'll just say that the action takes place during the years 2044 and 2074, in for some peculiar reason, Kansas - both rural and urban - though city scenes were reportedly shot in New Orleans; also in Shanghai, China. Chinese scenes in the version released in the USA are brief, but because a Chinese company coughed up a load of money into the movie's production, a version shown in China has several longer scenes located there.

Background to plot: a mode of time travel hasn't been discovered in 2044, but by 2074 it has, and is already outlawed, used only by mobsters who need to get rid of the bodies of their victims, which they cannot do easily in 2074 because of universal computerised (or something) "tagging" by the authorities. So they send their victims back to 2044 to be killed by a set of their paid (in gold or silver bars) assassins.

Looper was written and directed by Rian Johnson. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL from now on) plays the younger version (30-years younger) of Bruce Willis's Joe. I first saw JGL watching DVDs of that great old series 3rd Rock From the Sun. Since then his career has risen rapidly - he seems to be in just about every movie I see advertised these days, where a youngish male role needs to be filled, even in the upcoming Spielberg movie Lincoln, playing Abraham's son. JGL does a creditable job mimicking Bruce Willis's facial expressions and mannerisms. I wondered whether the director had had Bruce do a read through of JGL's lines so's he could see how he'd handle them, expression-wise. It's reported that JGL's facial appearance was changed for the film by use of a prosthetic nose - a bit off-putting at first. I kept wishing the young Bruce Willis could somehow have been resurrected via CGI to play young Joe. At some point in the future something like that could well prove to be a possibility.

For anyone intending to see the movie, I'd advise a quick reading of a plot summary, one which contains no spoilers, just to give a basic grounding. I was glad I'd done this, knowing my tendency to get so involved in untangling stuff and tripping over the odd paradox, that I miss crucial turns in a story-line. For best outcome, too, follow Bruce Willis's advice to his younger self. It was along the lines of : not to get into a deep consideration of time travel or it'd take all day, blow the mind, and the end result would be making silly diagrams with straws.

We enjoyed the film, and to be honest, I enjoyed searching for information afterwards almost as much. When the DVD is released I intend to rent it and watch again, knowing what I know now.

AND... we recently saw on rental DVD

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a British-made movie with a starry cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, et al, along with some charming and beautiful (male and female) Indian cast members whose names are not familiar, except perhaps: Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire - who is actually British by birth.

The movie offers a refreshing change from the majority on offer these days where the young (or younger) set take charge of events. It could be seen as a wee bit depressing, or a wee bit inspiring, depending on the mood of the viewer. There's no exciting plot, it's simply a story of a group of retired Brits who take their pensions, and, inspired by an advertisement, head for a charming-sounding hotel in India where they hope either to jump-start their lives, now unburdened by demanding careers, or to escape sad memories. Developments are fairly predictable but the joy is in the quality dialogue and acting talent of the leading players.

There's something for a younger age group in the film too, via young Indian cast members, but its real emphasis is on later life issues.

A couple of reviews I read raised my "ageism hackles" by condescendingly describing the film as a movie "for old people". Perhaps it is, but there are ways and other ways of describing such a movie. I was glad to note that offending reviewers had been properly upbraided via comment threads.


Wisewebwoman said...

Looper sounds like a good challenge. I look forward to catching it!

As to Marigold, I already reviewed it and the book it was based on here:


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ I recall your mentioning the Marigold book/ movie, yes - I've re-read what you wrote.

I didn't have the negative reaction you did - maybe because I hadn't read the book, and had more or less damped down expectations anyway after your report.

I enjoyed it, for what it was, also because of the English accents. Always nice to have husband ask me "what did she say" instead of me having to ask him the same question. :-)