DID YOU READ

“Looper” review: Back to the Future

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Time travel is a tricky storytelling device. On one side, it allows for an infinite number of twists and turns in the narrative, but it also demands that the author carefully manage every thread of the story in order to keep all of the timelines in order.

Fortunately, “Looper” director Rian Johnson proves himself an expert caretaker of his film’s time-twisting narrative, and never lets the science-fiction set-up overshadow a brilliant, action-packed adventure powered by superb performances from its cast.

In “Looper,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a hired gun in the year 2042 who, along with his fellow “loopers,” is contracted by the mob to kill people his employers send back in time from the year 2072. Disposing of bodies in the past, it seems, is the best way to ensure they’re never discovered in the future. However, when Joe discovers that one of his next targets will be his future self (Bruce Willis), things take an unexpected turn and he finds himself on the run from the mob and hunting a man who already knows everything he’s going to do.

It’s a clever concept for a film, and in the wrong hands it could go horrible awry, filled with contradicting timelines and confusing twists likely to give its audience a collective headache. But Johnson, who both wrote and directed the film, handles the premise masterfully, and does a nice job of letting the story play out naturally rather than wrestling with the implications of the time-travel elements.

Right from the start, one of the most impressive achievements in the film is Gordon-Levitt’s uncanny, spot-on performance as a younger version of Willis. While the makeup and prosthetics worn by Gordon-Levitt certainly make the leap from younger to older Joe a little easier to believe, make no mistake: it’s the younger actor’s performance that seals the deal. Gordon-Levitt manages to capture every nuance of Willis’ speaking pattern, accent, and mannerisms — even his laugh. In the end, the practical effects that make him look like Willis are only a finishing touch.

Willis, on the other hand, is his usual tough-guy self, though he does manage to bring some depth to the character that makes “Old Joe” more than just a squinting, gun-toting brute. In fact, there’s just enough emotional substance there to make you uncertain which version of Joe you’re really supposed to root for in this story.

Emily Blunt and Paul Dano also do a nice job in supporting roles, and Jeff Daniels offers up a nice take on the classic kingpin role. Child actor Pierce Gagnon also holds his own amid the star-studded cast, and plays well against Gordon-Levitt and Blunt during their scenes together. A brief appearance by Garret Dillahunt — who’s a welcome addition to any cast — only adds to an already impressive roster.

One role which never really finds its footing, however, is Piper Perabo’s prostitute with a heart of gold, Suzie. As an audience, you’re led to believe there’s some emotional connection between Suzie and Joe that never quite solidifies in the film, and it ends up feeling like her only reason for being in the movie at all is the T&A factor of her brief topless scene.

Still, from start to finish, “Looper” is a brilliant action-movie experience that stands out in a crowded genre on the virtue of its stars’ performances and both the expert eye and signature flair of its writer and director. Anyone who’s seen Johnson’s breakout high-school noir “Brick” will likely pick up the filmmaker’s unique imprint all over “Looper,” from Joe’s retro-’50s style (all slim ties and slick hair) to the little touches he adds to characters’ slang and the way they interact with each other. In the end, it’s proof-positive that Johnson ranks among the best genre-blenders in Hollywood today.

With an all-star cast performing at the top of their games, a smart premise, and a talented filmmaker who makes everything good about the film come together in wonderful ways, “Looper” is more than just the typical late-season Hollywood blockbuster. It’s a special film that reminds its audience of the enormous potential of the science-fiction genre, and the great stories it can give us in the right hands.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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