Archive | September, 2012

LOOPER (2012) directed and written by Rian Johnson

30 Sep

Starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, Looper was an entertaining way to have spent the evening. Joe exists in 2072 and 2042 simultaneously. The younger Joe works for a man called Abe, who is from the future, living in 2042. The majority of the film is set in this year with one short sequence explaining what happens to Joe in the thirty year interim.

I’m scanning my mind back to this flashing glimpse of a man’s life.

In 2042, Joe is a hitman – a ‘looper’ – who has signed up to Abe’s gang who are concurrently operating in 2072. By then time-travel is invented and available. But the lawlessness of everything means that it’s highly illegal. Victims are sent back in time bagged and bound, and assignated by loopers.

A bizarre part of the employment contract of a looper states that when the risk to the gang’s operations becomes too great, the looper will be sent back in time to the barrel of his own gun, to close the loop by death. By way of recognition, the payment is gold bullion strapped to the victim on these occaisons, rather than silver. From this moment the looper is granted thirty years left to live as a free man.

However, Joe returns to himself and escapes. By not killing his future self he has put both their life-united in danger. He continues to try to track himself down in the hope of appeasing his mistake. What happens is that they meet, the older Joe is madly in love with his wife, and wants to change 2042 so that he can live to see 2080 with her.

The younger Joe and the gang fail to kill the older Joe. But the gang also fails to kill the younger Joe. Before the older one flees he passes the details of the gang leader in 2072 on to his younger self. It turns out to be a little boy who lives on a farm. This is where they meet again.

Rian Johnson’s vision of a future is depressingly believeable: a world filled with poverty and extortionate wealth. The tragic story reminded me of The Door in the Wall by HG Wells. All the characters are trying to find something that has already found them.

On the surface not that much was different about the future to 2012 but the detail was blackandwhite better version of our technology. Keeping sets as they are today but more extreme was a touch of class. It will ripen as a film I expect. There is plenty to think about beyond the end; not everything is immediately crystal clear.


THE TURIN HORSE (2011) dir. Bela Tarr

5 Sep

Have you ever had a flash of insight – for a just few seconds – into a mind-boggling idea that you couldn’t ever quite grasp again in the same way?  Physical events can lead to an inexplicable, monumental, moment of marvel. Reading Wittgenstein in the Freud Museum, for example. For a catastrophic instant the notion that this could be possible secreted awesomeness.

Whatever he acknowledged, Frederich Nietzche – great philosopher, saw a horse being flogged in Turin. He flung his arms round it, sobbing, before descending into a weary, bedridden state that he lived through for ten years before dying. The Turin Horse follows on immediately after the encounter between man and horse, taking the path of the stubborn horse and her owner, back to their rural abode.

Perhaps the reason for the intense fascination at the little we are presented with on screen is that – filmed in monochrome – it is almost as if we are travelling back in time to January 3rd, 1889 and watching the mundane lives of the owner of the horse and his daughter. It doesn’t seem acted, the slow pace and clever camerawork give a level of realism that’s extraordinarily easy to watch, albeit with minimal action.

The wind is howling, the girl boils some potatoes, they get dressed, they get undressed, the girl fetches water, they muck out the horse. This is their daily routine. This is being human. Stark. Mysterious. What about variety? Why don’t they want more to happen? Don’t they tire of potatoes? There is a strong sense of purpose heightened by the camerawork creating something resembling a moving black and white photograph.

Some people will find it as interesting as being locked in a dark room with some straw to lie on and nothing else to do. But I found it strangely mesmerising. I expect in the cinema this is an extraordinarily relaxing movie. Perhaps the repetitive melody on strings for the score – music to leave a sense of anticipation and excitement, music that makes my heart race through listening – helps lull the viewer.  

I’m left curious about connecting to this motion picture experientially during a theatre screen view.

The other characters that come into the plot remind us loosely of Nietzsche’s ideas.  The girl reads out loud from a book given to her by gypsies in an exchange (with water). There is a visitor incorporated into the script. He sits at the table and talks. It’s as if we can see an occurence in history, somewhere near the apex of the philosopher’s suggestions, as they begin to filter down through the pyramid of mind and embed themselves into the collective-consciousness of human psyche.

Just as a small child can these days discern between a circle and a square, when this was once a ‘discovery’ of great men, all ideas sink deeper and deeper into our being. Whatever was always already there troubling Nietzsche, what might have happened to his mental faculties on that fateful day, is not known although the tale is not lost to aeons thanks to The Turin Horse.