Thursday, December 13, 2012

In short: Looper (2012)

To say Rian Johnson's handful of films make me inordinately happy would be a bit of an understatement. Part of the reason for the love I've developed for the man's films can surely be found in certain parallels in aesthetic upbringing people in the same age bracket tend to have, but then I know more than enough directors of my general age whose films are the complete opposite of everything I want in my art.

But I've not come to put down vague, possibly made-up directors who happen to make films I dislike, but to praise Looper and Rian Johnson. The film is another one of the bastard children of Philip K. Dick (rule: the best Dick adaptations are those films that aren't adapting actual Dick texts but are influenced by him), and the history of the near-future SF film. The film is full of echoes of films, and books and movies of the past, but - not surprising in a film whose production design so clearly knows how retro fashion works and whose story just as clearly knows that circles need to be broken - never a slave to them; the shadow of the past is there to make the now more visible and give it more resonance. Despite being a film full of influences of the films of the past, it's not a film about those films.

Looper also just happens to be an excellent, finely ironic SF action film, a film about the lengths one has to go to if one wants to break through the loops of violence and destruction either a malevolent universe with a bitter sense of dramatic irony or just horrible luck of the kind that makes existentialist philosophers cry create, a film about the fact that the Bruce Willis-style 80s and 90s action hero has always been a self-centred prick, a timely reminder why Bruce Willis is still playing in actual movies too, while Stallone and Schwarzenegger are only good for The Expendables 2, and the kind of film that really knows where and how to use obscure soul songs and Richard & Linda Thompson.

So it's not difficult to imagine Looper was made just for me.

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