Review: Looper

[SPOILER ALERT – It’s excellent. Seriously, though, if you are adverse any advance hints of plot or character in Looper, consider this review peppered with very mild spoilers that make any sort of considered review even possible in this case.]

Empiricist founding father John Locke proposed a curious scenario with of all things, his socks. It goes something like this. If you had a hole in your sock and had to patch it over, you’d probably call it the same sock, more or less. But if you developed another hole, then another, to the point where all the original material of that sock was replaced, would it still be the same sock? Rian Johnson’s fantastic time travel film asks the question, after 30 years of life (and life lessons) are you still you? Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis are playing Joe, an assassin who kills for the mafia of 2070, even if the present is 2044. Time travel may have been invented somewhere between that span of years, but it was immediately outlawed and then equally immediately co-opted by the mafia as a unique way to dispose of people that they want gone. Send them back to 2044 and have a ‘Looper,’ a member of Joe’s profession, kill and burn the remains effectively destroying the evidence decades before anyone will need to look for it. The catch is that Loopers eventually have to be retired themselves, and are generally retired by themselves, unbeknown by themselves until they see themselves. Keep up with me now, we’re in the in the tall cane. Shockingly, these young assassins generally have a big night on the town after they retire themselves. But, like Logan’s Run or Minority Report, we all apt run in the end when given enough wind of what’s coming. So, when Young-Joe botches the murder Old-Joe, he has a bit of a conundrum. Actually, he has a full blown existential crisis, complicated by the fact that Old-Joe might just be Locke’s over-patched socks. That is to say, is Young-Joe really stepping on his own toes by telling Old-Joe to piss off? Or, going a step further, hunting him down for his mafia masters? From the other side of the equation, consider if you at fifty met yourself at twenty, wouldn’t you want to punch that young twerp in the face?

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Toronto After Dark: All About Evil Review

All About Evil

Director: Joshua Grannell
Writer: Joshua Grannell
Producers: Brian Benson, Debbie Brubaker, Joshua Grannell
Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Dekker, Cassandra Peterson, Mink Stole, Jack Donner, Peaches Christ
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 98 min.

Toronto After Dark

While introducing a kids matinee performance of The Wizard of Oz (with Dad both the theatre-owner-producer and Mom the Wicked Witch of the West), young Deborah catches a bit of performance anxiety resulting in an embarassing wetness on her Dorothy costume and unfortunate electrocution via the pee-soaked microphone cord for all the families in the audience to witness. Certainly the sort of thing that could scar one for life. The moment is simultaneously sad, funny, tragic and high-kitsch and so goes All About Evil, a decidedly local tribute to the Midnight Cinema of yesteryear in those (alarmingly rare these days) single screen repertory houses presented with the tongue-in-cheek verve of late-late-late-night camp. A lot of these things display quite prominently in the film: Cassandra Peterson shows up as both subdued actress and horror-icon (in perhaps the films best joke, the young lead has Elvira as a wall pin-up (the classic cleavage-laden pose) and Peterson plays a significant role as his concerned Mom. Paging Dr. Freud!) Classic drive-in horror graphic art figures prominently into the film, both diagetic and also the superb opening and closing titles. The innocent/saucy tone of the whole affair feels very much like John Waters, and sure enough Water’s regular Mink Stole shows up as a shhhhh’ed librarian, and the moment of her lips being sealed is about the closest thing I have seen in the past 10 years to Herschell Gordon Lewis. So yea, the film wears its influences on its red-soaked sleeve.

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