J.M. Vargas wrote:LOOPER (2012) in theaters for the first time. For most of its running time this time-travel action drama had me by the balls and loving every minute of it never-confusing-but-always-loopy (get it? ) story of hitmen from the 30 years in the future dumping their victims in "present-day" 2044 Kansas for disposal. Aside from outstanding performances by J.G. Levitt, top-billed Bruce Willis (the meeting of the two Joe's at a diner is the movie's highlight) and a decent Emily Blunt (Jeff Daniels and Piper Perabo are wasted in their supporting roles though) the unsung star of "Looper" is the production design by Ed Verreaux that imagines a futuristic Kansas that's simultaneously believable-enough to buy while also being wildly unrealistic (think "Equilibrium" but with self-restraint). Also, because of the FX houses contracted and scenes shot in China, "Looper" has a very "Serenity"-like vibe of American and Chinese cultures intertwined. Alas, "Looper's" final act has too many balls up in the air (figuratively and... well, you know) that are solved in a way that didn't live up to great premise and execution we'd gotten for the first two thirds. Still a gas though, and one of the better 'high concept' genre pictures to come out of Hollywood in a while.
Attrage wrote:The Abyss (extended cut) - I tried not to, but it was impossible for me to view the "message" ending of this one, not to mention the posturing military guy on the Benthic Explorer (his "Back in two hours." while munching a sandwich always makes me smile), without thinking of James Cameron's more recent "message" in Avatar.
That aside, I like The Abyss. As with Avatar, my favorite character is not one of the good guys. It's Lt Coffey. Michael Biehn's increasing psychosis is the highlight of this film for me. My favorite scene with him, is when Lindsay Brigman confronts him with the nuke. I like the slithery way he says "you will do an about face, and walk out of here..." it's brilliant acting. I also love the slow reveal at the end that Coffey has been clutching a revolver the whole time.
But Ed Harris comes a close second. As ridiculous as the scene reviving Lindsay after drowning is, that breathless way he shouts "Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!!" never ceases to get me a little choked up
Attrage wrote:Misery - One of the better (best, maybe?) adaptations of Stephen King, I put this down to a few factors – two amazing performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, and the great writer/director collaboration between William Goldman and Rob Reiner. I really delved into this one – I re-read the King novel, then watched the film three times (once to revisit, then followed it up with both the Goldman, then Reiner commentaries).
Part of what makes this film just simply work, is that Goldman had the skill (and the good instinct) to keep the fertile craziness of King in, but not to simply slavishly adhere to the novel. If translated directly onto screen, the novel just wouldn’t work as a film. Goldman’s choices to limit things do the film a great service – he compresses all of Paul Sheldon’s excursions out of the room he’s held prisoner in into one epically tense scene, and instead of numerous cops visiting the house, he ditches them all, and creates his own amalgam of them with the character of Buster, the town Sheriff. It’s Goldman’s experience as a screenwriter, and obvious respect for the source material, that makes this such a memorable adaptation, and one that has stood the test of time far better than most other King adaptations.
But again, all credit to two wonderful actors – Caan and Bates have a chemistry that is a joy to watch. I especially like the moment where Annie is wistfully recalling a distant, painful memory, and telling Paul about it while he is awkwardly urinating into a bottle. The scene continues with her taking the bottle from him and then continuing to speak, all the while casually shaking the bottle. The way Caan flinches as she shakes the bottle makes for a superbly weird scene that would be laughable were it not played so straight by two masterful actors.
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