I started an extensive review of 1980’s Ordinary People four days ago and today I’ll finish the rest of the movie (actually 3/4 of the movie, but I’ll manage to keep it short). Let’s get right into it.
This is part 2, continued from part 1.
We stopped after the movie jumped ahead in time for 30 years. What happens then is astounding and simple. The movie just moves on and follows old Joe as he travels back 30 years to his past, where we then follow him as he follows young Joe doing all the things we saw already. So while structurally the movie shows us the same events from a different perspective, narratively it just keeps on moving along, without any actual jumps anymore. It does leave out some crucial information, though, but we don’t know that yet. What we feel is sympathy for old Joe as he tries to save his newfound happiness with his wife (Xu Qing). It’s a relatable motivation up till this point and it’s important to see that the movie takes us there, so we later have to ask ourselves how far we are willing to go along with this character. We get some fun moments where old Joe doesn’t understand young Joe’s actions, which is a clever way of showing how we distance ourselves from who we were the more we grow older.
Looper is the rare intelligent movie that also delivers on action, suspense and sci-fi elements. To me, it was a perfectly constructed story that constantly surprised me (I’m not surprised by movies very often) and kept me at the edge of my seat. When it ended, the first thing I thought was: “I want to watch that again.” It’s also one of those movies I enjoyed so much while it was still on that I was sure it would fail at its ending. But it certainly didn’t disappoint. It definitely cranks up the action factor towards the end, but the action always has a purpose and is story-driven and Rian Johnson, the writer-director, keeps coming up with innovative ideas to film the action. In fact, the whole movie is so well-made and uses the possibilities of cinema in a way that you wonder why everyone else doesn’t do that more (I guess it boils down to talent). Johnson’s use of camera and editing is brilliant, which is maybe surprising because his script is so well-written, too. Is this the better Inception? I don’t know if it’s a fair comparison, but the moment a student mentioned it, I couldn’t stop thinking that Looper shows why Inception might be overrated. Then again, both feature great performances, but I enjoyed the Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis pairing so much and all the supporting actors and actresses keep up that level easily. The movie doesn’t even disappoint when it comes to the role of women (I think), but I should save that for my analysis.
12 Years a Slave is an extremely powerful movie. It doesn’t let you off the hook in showing you what slavery was like. And you have to keep in mind that the protagonist, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was probably better off than the average slave. He had some opportunities because of his education and he didn’t die as a slave. But despite that relatively narrow focus, the movie manages to give a realistic portrayal of slavery. I found the film very impressive, especially the way it was directed by Steve McQueen. I had seen Shame and was impressed by it too but I didn’t feel an emotional connection to it. 12 Years a Slave goes straight to the heart by its sheer force of filmmaking and I appreciate that a lot. Every aspect of the movie – the acting, the music, the script, the cinematography, the editing, the production and costume design, the sound design – is not just a showcase for talent but actually increases the emotional impact of the movie.
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