Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

2012 – Best Movie Bracket

It is so hard to distinguish between the best movies of the year and the ones that I like to watch repeatedly. Sometimes they are one and the same. I absolutely loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I have a feeling that my enjoyment of the movie is more about my personal connection than the actual worth of the film.

There are also several very good films that I consider extremely worthy of being considered the best of the year, such as; LincolnLife of PiThe Master, and Silver Linings Playbook. They are honorable mentions, but unfortunately I had to cut it down to three.

Continue reading 2012 – Best Movie Bracket

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Ebert – Original Review 1994

Ebert – Great Movies Review 2001

Pulp-Fiction-666
Writer/Director/Actor Quentin Tarantino with the stellar Harvey Keitel as the Wolf.

Continuing on the idea of watching the best movies that you can find on Netflix, I come to Pulp Fiction. Of course, Pulp Fiction is the film that simultaneously shot Quentin Tarantino into elite directorial status and cemented his place as one of the most innovative auteurs of all time.

His screenplay is divided into three stories, each introduced with a title card. First, there’s the story of the hit man who has to take his boss’s wife out for the evening while her husband is away. There’s the story of the aging boxer paid to throw a fight and the quest to retrieve a uniquely special family heirloom. Finally, there’s two hit men in a messy situation that needs a quick solution. These three separate stories are intertwined and not told linearly. Each story could easily stand on its own as a short film, but told as they are, each adds a further dimension to the others. The non-linear progression is not simply a gimmick, but rather an essential aspect of the film’s narrative.  Continue reading Pulp Fiction (1994)

Looper (2012)

Director Rian Johnson began his career with the language-muddling high school film noir Brick, before moving on to the con-man film The Brothers Bloom, yet his third film, arguably his best, is a science fiction time-travel action film called Looper. Creating an original, but familiar location of near-future Earth, Johnson is able to place interesting characters with a complex time travel story line and let the audience go along for the ride.

Roger Ebert’s original review from 2012.

In the year 2044 time travel has not yet been invented, but thirty years later it will have been. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, a man hired to assassinate troublesome enemies of criminal gangs in 2074. These men are transported back in time with silver attached to their backs, are killed by the loopers and disposed of. looper 1While it is a lucrative career, there is one downside, Loopers are expected to ‘close the loop’ by assassinating themselves. At this point they are given a huge payout and are effectively retired, left to enjoy the remaining 30 years of their life. When Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) appears before young Joe, he hesitates to kill him, allowing him to escape and forces the younger self to track down the older self and kill him before the leader of the loopers, Abe (Jeff Daniels) finds him. The chase leads the two men to a remote farm, the home to Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon), where they must finally sort out the ever-growing list of potential paradoxes.

Looper as a science fiction film is innovative but thoughtful. There are nods to previous classics in the genre, and while many have compared it to The Matrix, it is actually more akin to The Terminator. There is time travel, a seemingly convoluted plot to assassinate and defend and a potentially unstoppable killer at its core. Yet Willis/Gordon-Levitt are a better pair than Schwarzenegger/Biehn and the plot allows for a neat summary at the end, to avoid any potential sequel issues. It’s nice for a modern film not to immediately play for a sequel with a cliffhanger ending and Johnson’s script is almost wipe-clean in its conclusion.

looper-movie-screencaps.com-7782The cast are uniformly excellent and Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (with a prosthetic nose which is very convincing in the close-up shots) are as good as you would imagine. It is however, Bruce Willis who is the stand-out. It’s been a long time since Willis has had to show any range, and while he gets to show-off his action chops in a series of scenes that will delight fans of Die Hard, it is in the more emotional scenes that he excels. In fact after the barmy opening act, Looper is strongest when engaging in the depth of character on display.

Looper doesn’t just rest on engaging characters and dialogue though and the action scenes walk the line between slick and cool gun fights and visceral horror gore and violence. In an early scene when another old looper avoids execution, the methods used to bring him to ‘justice’ are horrific and more at home in a slasher horror. It is this edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline-fueled mayhem that gives Looper it’s edge and allows the character development to ground it, while simultaneously allowing the plot not to stall. It’s a masterful balancing act by Johnson and his team.

Looper 3Looper is an exciting, original-yet-familiar science fiction action film that is likely to become more and more popular with age. The term ‘Cult Classic’ is often applied to low-budget films that were passed by on their original runs, but Looper has all the hallmarks of a film that will transcend this status and become a sleeper classic. While a lot of science fiction films are all flashy effects and no soul, Looper bucks the trend and delivers something slick, but with a heart of emotion. Just don’t ask about the time travel paradoxes or you’ll be stuck in a diner for hours, making charts out of straws.

Movies Set at Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody. While my wife watches A Christmas Story (1983) for the 10th time and the kids fall asleep among the wrapping paper, I am thinking about movies that are either set at Christmas or remind us of Christmas without being “Christmas movies.” You won’t find the traditional Christmas favorites on this list, but you might find some fun movies to watch with your sweetie on a cold winter night.

5. Gremlins
What better than a movie that had trouble getting past the MPAA because they believed it was too scary for its target audience. This movie doesn’t even make me think of Christmas, and I didn’t even watch it until I was in college. But who wouldn’t want to get a cute fuzzy monster like Gizmo under their Christmas tree. In fact, I think it was partly because of this movie that Furbys became popular 15 years later.
4. The Family Man
Jack (Nicolas Cage) is given the chance to live the life that he could have had if he had followed his heart. It is a retelling of It’s a Wonderful Life. The film emphasizes the importance of having family and friends in your life. Christmas just happens to be the backdrop for this hypothetical journey. Don Cheadle as the street wise angel really makes this film.
3. Batman Returns
Everyone has had a Christmas when they got one too many pairs of socks or when their crazy relative has a little too much egg nog and started spilling all the family secrets. That’s nothing compared to Christmas in Gotham City. The Red Triangle Gang jumps out of a giant present, mess up the Christmas decorations and attempt to install the super creepy Penguin (Danny Devito) as mayor. It’s not all bad however, it inspired a crazy woman to make a homemade skin-tight shiny black leather cat suit.
2. Trading Places
It’s a simple concept. Take a well-to-do Harvard alumnus named Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) and set him up for a fall. Then take a street bum Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) and put him in his old job to see if he can make it on the stock exchange. Pretty soon, Winthorpe’s a suicidal gun-toting thief dressed as Santa and Billy Ray’s scolding house guests for making a mess of his nice clean rug. Throw in Jamie Lee Curtis as a lady of the night and you have a heartwarming holiday classic. Or not.
1. Die Hard
Holiday office parties are the best! The boss gets tipsy, you see a whole other side of your co-workers, and international terrorists take everyone hostage in the office building! Well, at least that last one sounds fun for John McClane, a New York city cop who is attempting to surprise his estranged wife on Christmas Eve. But instead of a gift, he brings the pain. Who needs a “ho ho ho” when you can have a “yippie kai-yai motherf***er.” And McClane gets into more mischief around Christmas in Die Hard 2, but I think by Die Hard with a Vengeance he learned to stay home for the holidays.

These are some of my favorites. Can you think of some others?