Review: Looper (2012)

Time travel. What if you went back to disappear? If a Looper is waiting for you, nothing but an appointment with a blunderbuss is your welcome party. Once you’re killed, the looper gets a deposit of silver and another chance while the mob 30 years into the future has solved the sticky problem of where to hide the body.

With the arrival of TK (telekinesis), doped up guys can pick up girls by magically floating a quarter in their hands. The world of a looper is surrounded by mob-run cities and vagrants wandering the countryside hoping to find another meal or fix.

You can escape this dystopia as a looper when you get your golden ticket: taking out yourself when you are sent back with a cache of gold. This closes the loop and gives you 30 years to celebrate your freedom until your irreversible doom when you are sent back. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper planning for his escape by caching up his silver.

The consequences of letting a hit go creates an urgent rush by the present day (2034) mob to prevent time travel paradoxes to muddy the world. How much more so if you pass when your loop is being closed. Seth (Paul Dano) lets his old self go (Frank Brennan). Joe is convinced to give Seth up to the wrath of boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) to gruesome results.

Joe’s loop is to be closed, but Joe from the future (Bruce Willis) is determined to prevent his wife thirty years hence from being killed. Joe’s memories fade and become solid as the future gradually is linked with his past.

The film is able to bring the time travel genre to a grimy finish. Time travel, being illegal, is only used by future criminals. Old Seth shows how acts in the present affect his physical body as they are telegraphed to his future body immediately. Seth doesn’t remember that past so that he is surprised by the mutilations that he undergoes as retribution.

Sara (Emily Blunt) is thrown into the time travel maelstrom when her son becomes a target of Joe’s attempt to preemptively fix the future he remembers. Her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) has TK abilities like his mother. They live on a cane farm that is normally insulated from the big city’s problems. Cid is an angry child that Sara tries to encourage with her love for him.

The technology of Looper is not that advanced although some people have glamorous flying motorcycles. There is a popular drug that the mobsters use. This affects the tenor of the action and the chaos of the addicted characters.

The soundtrack by Nathan Johnson adds to the tension and destruction with a sharp, angular score that drifts the mood into progressively increasing danger and accompanies one through a world that has gone wrong.

Review: The Goldfinch (2019)

A reel of movie film
The Goldfinch is a film inspired by the Pulitzer Prize winning novel with the same title by Donna Tartt. The title refers to a painting by Carel Fabritius, a Dutch painter from the 17th century. The painting has an unusual history because it is one of the few paintings by that artist that survived an explosion in the Dutch city of Delft. Fabritius, who was a talented student of Rembrandt, was killed by that blast.

Flash forward to modern times and the painting is witness to another explosion and more deaths. Theo Decker’s mother is killed during a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City after admiring The Goldfinch. Theo is shell-shocked by the loss and steals the painting in the chaotic aftermath of the explosion.

Oakes Fegley plays the young Theo and the adult is played by Ansel Elgort. The actors showed clearly how Theo carried the pain of his mother’s death. Theo blames himself for her loss. Theo is quiet and introverted with thoughts that are full of regret. He comments that he is wearing a disguise that also might disguises himself from himself. As an adult, Theo’s disguise shows him impeccably dressed and always stoic and hard to read.

In Theo’s journey, he meets Boris who is a wild and anti-social boy that was a neighbor of Theo’s father. Boris is played by Finn Wolfhard as a youth and Aneurin Barnard as an adult. Theo’s loneliness and regret force him to find ways to escape. Boris’s wild irreverence and worldly-wise nature help him find that release. Alcohol plays a key role in the life of the adults around Theo’s life and Boris introduces him to pain killers and other drugs.

The film has a pattern of switching from young Theo to older Theo and back. The transitions are never confusing and help give the film some artistic merit. Theo reports that he is sad for being the cause of so much loss. He feels guilty and ashamed for the things he did. After failing to right those wrongs, he attempts suicide.

The tragedy of Theo’s life begins with his mother’s death in the explosion. While the stolen painting is a talisman against his loss, he doesn’t realize the irony of the Goldfinch’s prior experience with catastrophe. He suffers because he doesn’t ask for help to resolve his dilemma. However, he has had to be self-reliant because all of his important relationships blow up. Boris rejoins Theo as an adult and helps repatriate the painting to the world so that Theo has the possibility of being freed of its power.