Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Looper

10 Feb

looper

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 119 minutes

Rian Johnson is a 39 year-old native of Maryland who is building an impressive TV and film resume. His breakthrough was the film Brick in 2005 and since then he has worked impressively on the film The Brothers Bloom and the TV series Breaking Bad. With Looper he has delivered his best work to date. He wrote and directed it and in both departments his talent shines through. This is splendid stuff – a time travelling thriller that works on multiple levels.

As with Brick, the lead actor is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Here he plays a hitman for the mob, a so-called looper. He gets paid to kill enemies of the mob sent back from the future. He eliminates them and any problems that they might create down the road for criminal paymasters he has never met. It’s a complex business time travel and clearly a sci-fi device, but it sits perfectly in the middle of this story. Johnson balances high concept with serious drama and gets great performances out of Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis (as the aged hitman).

The encounter between the young and the old killer is the cornerstone of Looper. This is about boys becoming men and the importance of mentors along the way. Willis has a lot to tell his younger self, but Gordon-Levitt is too busy living fast to worry about the future. In that future Willis has found love and as such this story is also about having a love that you will kill or die for – holding it tight no matter what. The aged hitman needs to educate the younger man about living, but has to do so without losing his own life in the process.

There are big themes here, cleverly interwoven and built on a strong screenplay. Looper has been passed over in awards season, but Johnson deserves a lot of credit for his writing on this. The cast is strong and all of the actors deliver (with Gordon-Levitt and Willis playing off each other particularly well). This is an eye-catching, absorbing, well-paced and moving film – all things that I struggled to find in last year’s blockbuster Inception. And what a great starting point; what would your 55 year old self tell your 25 year old self if it could?

Lay the Favourite

3 Dec

lay the favourite

 

Director: Stephen Frears

Writers: Beth Raymer (memoir), D.V. DeVincentis (screenplay)

Stars: Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis and Vince Vaughn

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 94 minutes

 

British director Stephen Frears has had an interesting career. He has jumped around genres and locations and there have been excellent films such as Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity and Dirty Pretty Things, but also bombs such as Mary Reilly, Tamara Drewe and this latest film. In fact, this one might be the absolute low and in following on from Tamara Drewe it’s a truly awful sequence. In the former Gemma Arterton was strangely miscast and misused and in the latter it is Rebecca Hall, another very capable young British actress, that suffers.

The story of Lay the Favourite, possibly the worst film title of 2012, is that of Beth Raymer. It is her memoir of legal and illegal betting shenanigans on which the film is based. Rebecca Hall plays Beth and we first see her dancing privately for various unsavoury types in Florida. Almost, but not quite a call girl she leaves the state and heads to Las Vegas to find better work. There she hooks up with bookmaker Dink (Bruce Willis), his wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and with a collection of other bookies, gamblers, wannabe gangsters etc. Joshua Jackson becomes the new boyfriend and Vince Vaughn is a New York based bookie for who the naïve Beth also finds work.

There is so much wrong with this film it is difficult to know where to start. Rebecca Hall, a fantastic actress who was so good in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and in The Town, is hugely miscast and her girly Marilyn Monroe voice and kooky mannerisms are annoying. The other cast members are equally poor and mostly stand around looking uncomfortable. The script is dire, the direction is uninspired and one cringe-worthy scene follows another. The film has no redeeming qualities at all and director Frears is now on very thin ice indeed.

Moonrise Kingdom

1 Nov

 

Director: Wes Anderson

Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 94 minutes

 

 

I always look forward to seeing the new Wes Anderson film, but I don’t come away completely satisfied every time. Rushmore was stunning, but I struggled with The Royal Tenebaums. I enjoyed The Life Aquatic a lot and The Darjeeling Limited was a pleasant distraction. Here on Moonrise Kingdom, however, I think that Anderson has surpassed those and delivered his best (live action) film to date. The expected Anderson whimsical themes and quirky production design are all present and I smiled widely from start to finish. It is a 90 minute delight.

The imaginary setting is the Island of New Penzance and the year is 1965. Bob Balaban, as the narrator, tells us that a big storm is approaching. Whilst the weather worsens we follow the exploits of two 12 year olds, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward). They run away from the khaki scout troop (Sam) and from a big eccentric family (Suzy) to meet up and to have an adventure. Sam and Suzy are in love. They are also misunderstood by their friends and family. Sam is described as being “emotionally disturbed” whilst Suzy is tagged with having “so many problems”. As such they get each other and are content to leave adults and other meddlers far behind.

Like all of Anderson’s films this one is meticulously styled and shot. It is beautiful to look at and each scene opens with some artfully clever framing. The opening credits alone are genius. Colours are vibrant throughout and the imaginary island, that in the real world would be somewhere like Martha’s Vineyard, provides great backdrops to the search for the runaways. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman return and are both typically excellent. In addition Edward Norton is great as the zealous scout leader, Bruce Willis convinces as the tired police chief and both Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand impress. It is a great cast.

There are few laugh-out-loud moments in Moonrise Kingdom however it is sweet and funny throughout. A lot of that comes from Sam and Suzy as the runaway couple – he with the Davy Crocket hat and her with the binoculars. Sure their romance is over-blown and open for cynicism, but you would have to be stone hearted not to root for them.

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