The New Release Rack: Closing the time travel loop in 'Looper'
Plus 'The Trouble With Bliss' and the documentary 'Putin's Kiss'
"Cosmopolis" (eOne), David Cronenberg's vivid adaptation of Don Delillo's massive novel, is a savage satire of modern life under a cool surface of steel and glass and electronic screens, a bubble from which we watch the world disintegrate outside, and one of the best and most challenging films of 2012. Videodrone's review is here.
"Looper" (Sony) is the smartest science fiction thriller of 2012. On the surface a clever collision of killer-for-hire action and time-travel conundrum, Rian Johnson's juiced-up genre blast ostensibly pits a callow young executioner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) against his future self (Bruce Willis). The younger is charged with killing his older self (closing the loop, in the film's vernacular) while the older is determined to change his future.
Johnson's creative approach to a familiar genre elements, however, is simply our entry into a superb character drama, with Gordon-Levitt doing a brilliant Willis and Willis as a dead man walking who remains just as self-involved decades on. Both, curiously, are so focused in the present self they treat their alter ego as an enemy. Emily Blunt provides fierce support as a single mother whose devotion to her son nudges at least one of them to evolve.
"Good news: Not only is the smart, sexy, sophisticated but still slam-bang sci-fi action-thriller not dead, it's just gotten itself a potent shot in the arm by way of writer-director Rian Johnson," celebrates MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "… what makes this picture an instant classic is the near-punk attitude Johnson exercises on the material. Having constructed a relatively airtight scenario concerning all of the relevant permutation of time-travel paradoxes and such, he exploits his story elements in ways that keep the viewer asking, "Wow, are we really going there?""
Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director Ryan Johnson with actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, two featurettes ("Looper: From the Beginning" and "Scoring Looper"), and five deleted scenes with commentary by Johnson and co-star Noah Segan, plus an UltraViolet digital copy for download and instant streaming. The Blu-ray also include the featurette "The Science of Time Travel" and 17 additional deleted scenes with commentary. Also available On Demand
"The Trouble with Bliss" (Anchor Bay), an indie comedy starring Michael C. Hall, Chris Messina, and Lucy Liu, "bounces from eccentric character to oddball encounter," according to film critic Alison Willmore at The A.V. Club. "The film aims to present a mosaic of crazy New York life, but instead seems more like a shaggy-dog story being spun out by an easily distracted barfly over the course of an idle afternoon." DVD only, with deleted scenes and an interview with Michael C. Hall.
"Putin's Kiss" (Kino Lorber) profiles a Moscow teenager by name of Masha Drokova, who became a media sensation after she kissed Vladimir Putin, in this snapshot of the volatile political culture in contemporary Russia. New York Post film critic V.A. Musetto describes it as "more than just the portrait of a naive young woman. It’s a frightening look at Putin’s warped version of democracy." DVD only.