2012: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (director) Rian Johnson, and Bruce Willis for Looper at TIFF
My Take: Looper is a futuristic tale on its way to being a cult classic whose coolness factor is only superseded by its thought-provoking nature. This one will be known for the small attention to detail in the performances - Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on the likeness and manners of a young Bruce Willis at times better than Willis himself, Paul Dano grabs our attention and makes himself known to be the sympathetic character in the few moments he has onscreen, Emily Blunt’s Americana, farmville accent makes me forget she’s even British, and the movie will undoubtably marked the start of a great career for one child actor who conveyed more in a look than alot of Hollywood actors could do in whole pages of dialogue. It will be known even more so for its concepts and commentary on destiny unchangeable because circumstances vs. a person’s character. In this world, specialized trained assassins do the bidding of the crime syndicates of the future, killing and disposing of the bodies of their enemies, all the while really agreeing to limit their lives to only 30 more years (a.k.a “close their loops”) in exchange for wealth. They are unknowingly slowly becoming the people they end up killing, both literally and figuratively as we witness their propensity for betrayal against their fellow assassins, fast lives filled with drugs and prostitutes, and willingness to take on other killer-for-hire jobs. The film helps us understand the temptations and motivations that attract these characters to become loopers and through the aid of an older “self” on a mission to correct the past, how one in particular recognizes how his past could mirror the future of an important child and chooses to become a different person to prevent that for happening. Few films can do well the confrontation between two versions of self, but this one manages to give us great humorous and jarring scenes between two men who are so similar but have so little respect for each other. To help us along with the film’s action sequences and time jumps, director Rian Johnson gives us some cool special effects that aren’t there just for show but come to illustrate a world that is alittle advanced from ours in some ways but in many ways it’s very much the same. This stands as one of my favorite films of the year. My Grade: A
Are you thinking about attending Sundance, Tribeca or TIFF in 2013, but you’re not sure which one is the best? I decided to compare these festivals since I have attended them all. Here are my opinions on which are the best based on the experiences you would like to have and what is most important to you in a festival:
Best festival updates/twitter feed: Sundance. I follow all the official twitter feeds throughout the year for these three film festivals, and for me, the two official ones for Sundance are the best (@sundancefest, @sundancefestnow). For me, Sundance film festival gives you the best and most complete, all-access pass throughout the year to festival films and their progress from festival to theaters, background of Sundance Lab filmmakers and alums, the behind-the-scenes processes of bringing the festival to life, editorial and news on Sundance filmmakers, updates on what Sundance movies are playing in a theater near you, and lots more. During the festival, I think this feed a great resource, giving more updates on special events, ongoing filmmaker panels at the Filmmaker’s lodge and film screenings, give-aways, and up-to-the-minute news on your favorite actors and films. Following during the festival lets you know where you should be to have the best experience. What is also cool about Sundance is that they choose a few “guest tweeters” every festival, people in the industry (writers, directors, actors) who take control of the twitter feed for a day to give you a glimpse into what events that attend, who they meet and run into, and their film passions.
Best last minute option: Toronto. For the person that decides to fest late, I think Toronto is the best bet. From my experience, TIFF is probably one of the best kept secrets from the masses where film festivals are concerned. For whatever reason, between these three major festivals, this one is the least crowed. Plus, with individual tickets not going on sell until about 4-5 days before the festival without any ticket registration, those who decide at the last minute to attend can still get tickets for those popular movies that are screening.
Easier to get around: Tribeca. Tribeca wins hands down; it’s NYC after all. The majority of the festival is in Tribeca (that’s the TRiangle BElow CAnal street for all of you who are not aware) so if it’s not in walking distance, then it’s easy (and relatively cheap at $2.25 per ride) to hope all the extensive subway system. Sure, Toronto has a subway but it’s relatively more limited and a little more expensive ($3 per ride). For Sundance, you have to rely on the festival buses (in the cold and snow) which are great, but for me, does not beat the frequency of the subway.
7. I have my tickets in hand; 8. The cast of Imogene including Kristen Wiig and Darren Criss; 9. Alexis Denioff taking a pic with a fan at the premiere of Much Ado About Nothing; 10. Restaurant Row in front of TIFF Bell Lightbox; 11. The cast of Much Ado About Nothing; 12. I ran into Jason Reitman on the street and told him how much I enjoyed his Live Read of American Beauty
1. Me at brunch at the O+B Canteen; 2. Kristen Wiig signing autographs at the special presentation of Imogene; 3. Nina Dobrev getting into her car after the screening of The Perks of Being a Wallflower; 4. Yes, I am at TIFF; 5. The TIFF Bell Lightbox, the headquarters and awesome hangout of TIFF; 6. some guy named Joss Whedon and I before the screening of Much Ado About Nothing
Second official day of the festival. I spent alot of the time focused on walking around the city and enjoying the weather with my friend Ije, but I also attend my first real film of the festival - a special presentation of Imogene, Kristen Wiig’s new movie. Off of the comedic brilliance of Wiig’s performance in Bridesmaids alone, it was on the top of my list of picks for this year’s festival. Could she bring to the table an equally great performance to a new movie? Also, being a “Glee” fan in the last couple of years (yeah, I can admit that), I was also interested in seeing the charismatic Darren Criss in his first feature film. The film follows a woman named Imogene (Kristen Wiig) who seemingly has it all as she lives the high life among literary elite in New York City with the perfect boyfriend and perfect friends, but after she loses it all (or more aptly, never had it in the first place), she is forced to return to her hometown in New Jersey, the very place she tried so hard to forget. This seems like the stuff good dramas are made of but throw in a staged attempted suicide, a gambling addict mother, and mom’s much younger boyfriend who claims to be an undercover government agent AND a samurai, and you may have hit the comedic payload. All in all, this turned out to be a pretty good one. It didn’t have the perfectly timed comedic beats Bridesmaids had, and the end of the film moved toward the ridiculous, but the movie had great comedic must-see moments not only from Kristen Wiig but also from the great Annette Bening. My Grade: B-
“The best way to find someone is to have them arrested”
(SPOILERS) We get a good sense of who Imogene is at the start of the film. The movie opens with a young Imogene on stage for rehearsals for her elementary stage production of “The Wizard of Oz”. Imogene, of course, is Dorothy, but an opinionated Dorothy who tells her teacher she would like to change the classic line “there is no place like home” for something see con realistic. In this cold opening, we gather that Imogene is a wanna-be playwright, stubborn, and has some not so nice memories of her home. When we are introduced to adult Imogene she is all of this but also very unhappy underneath. Though she lives in New York City as she always wanted, they people there, including her “best friend” and her boyfriend, subtly make her feel like she doesn’t belong among them. When her live-in boyfriend (who doesn’t want to marry her and instead proclaims that their “souls are connected”) breaks up with her and moves out, she does something very drastic (and very funny) - she sets ups her apartment to look like she committed suicide by taking a bunch of pills, complete with a (well written) suicide note. You see, Imogene is also very melodramatic. She only succeeds though in mistakenly getting thrown into a psych ward in the hospital and only allowed to be released in the care of her mother. Hearing that she mad dashes out of her room in her hospital gown and is chased by orderlies, reminiscent of the hilarious Bridesmaids chase on the airplane.
Enter Imogene’s over-the-top, very Jersey mother (Annette Bening) who, while Imogene is sedated, leaves her in the backseat of her car in the parking lot of a casino while she gambles (the scene where she wakes up in the car is one of the great highlights of the film). Without money or ID, she is forced to go back to New Jersey with her mother, is reunited with mentally disabled brother, meets her mother’s skeezy boyfriend (Matt Dillon) and finds out that her room has been rented to a recent college grad and lounge singer of classic 90s Backstreet Boys music Lee (Darren Criss). The supporting characters serves to give Imogene more dimension. Her relationship with her brother comes to show her patience, her budding friendship and attraction of Lee shows her fun and easy-going side she thought she has lost, and her skepticism of her mom’s boyfriend encourages her to become more realistic in her view of life. Through this discovery of herself, she comes to, with the help of Lee and her brother, embrace the life she has and stand up for herself to the people who made her feel so low.
Post-TIFF To Do List:
1. Rewatch Bridesmaids for the umpteeth time
2. Hope Darren Criss comes out with another solo album
… ‘cuz Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s got a new face and a future self to kill
Previous blog posts on the upcoming film Looper and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
- Watch this: First trailer for Looper
- See this: First look photos from Looper
- Read this: My top five favorite Joseph Gordon-Levitt films to date
- Live this: Straight from opening day of TIFF, experience the press conference for Looper with Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Bruce Willis
The Impossible // Get the tissue ready. Based on the true story of a family who lost track of each other during the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, this one pulls at the heart strings. The movie stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as husband/wife and parents to three young sons set against the backdrop of surviving one of the biggest natural disasters in history. I won’t be able to see The Impossible at TIFF this year but it’s a definitely on my list for the fall.
Seven Psychopaths // The trailer has arrived for this dog kidnapping caper film. Yes, really. One seemingly normal one (Colin Farrell) + his best friend (Sam Rockwell) + the one with issues (Woody Harrelson) + his hot girlfriend (Olga Kurylenko) + the non-violent one (Christopher Walken) + the passive-aggressive girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) +and the one with the bunny (Tom Waits) = Seven Pscychopaths. One of my picks to see at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival.