Tag Archives: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Looper (2012)

It’s a small fraternity of directors that have taken on the formidable task of helming a time travel movie. Between the potential for audience alienation that comes with heavy duty science fiction, and the third rail of time travel physics, it’s a wonder the group isn’t even smaller—which it is, when you amend the qualification to successful time travel movies. Measuring success in a time travel movie means measuring the success of the explanation of time travel alongside all the other stuff that a movie has to do well. It means walking a tightrope; a tightrope that Director Rian Johnson describes thusly, On one hand, the sci-fi nerd in me feels there’s a danger not explaining [the time travel], because it can look like plot holes. On the other hand, the story guy in me is like, ‘You know why that’s there, and that’s not what’s important to the story.'”  This is the central dilemma for Looper as a film, this balance between saying too much and not saying enough. Because while Johnson spends much of the film’s duration astounding the audience with an exceptional grasp of storytelling and world-building, his ambivalence about the film’s central device ends up blurring the whole.

Continue reading

50/50 (2011)

Cancer isn’t funny. It may, in fact, be the least funny topic one can broach. Yet somehow, behind-the-scenes guy and screenwriter Will Reiser has found a way to tell a story about cancer that produces more than a few laughs. It certainly helps that the story is Reiser’s own (with a few changes); the writer was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at 24. Though we’re quick to outrage when someone mocks the sick or oppressed, we’re happy to join in when the sick and oppressed mock themselves. And nobody can deny that laughter is an ice pick for fear. Any way you look at it, Reiser and Director Jonathan Levine have broken a barrier once thought unbreakable and created 50/50, perhaps the world’s first successful cancer joke.

Continue reading

Inception (2010)

Sometimes, in some ways, it feels as though Christopher Nolan might be tricking us. After Inception‘s release there were endless conversations and references made to the film’s strenuous complexity. People spoke of it as though it were as mysterious as Lost, when the reality is that it just sort of feels that way. Sure, Nolan is weaving a complicated fiction, but are there really that many stones left unturned? Are there really that many elements of this story left ambiguous? It seems much more the case that Nolan has simply done a masterful job of convincing us that if we want to appreciate this story, we had better stay on our toes. Meanwhile, as we kill ourselves trying to appreciate every last technical tidbit, we become immersed in this: an astonishing action movie with a broken heart.

Continue reading

500 Days of Summer (2009)

I love Zooey Deschanel. I think she’s adorable and it’s a point of contention in my current relationship. I was thusly disappointed by the character she plays in 500 Days of Summer…no, not disappointed, that’s not right. I hated her character and I hated this movie. Here’s the long and short:

This film comes with the preface, “This is not a love story, but a story about love,” which really doesn’t mean anything at all. In love stories and stories about love we follow two people as they make their way through that universal gauntlet. They struggle with some sort of inner or outer dissonance, and hopefully, finally, find their way to one another and stroll into the sunset of love, prepared forever to face all problems as one. Or not. Whatever. 500 Days of Summer utilizes this introduction to avoid the necessity of a happy ending, or at least one you recognize. Which is fine, if it’s executed properly. Continue reading