When I filmed “Stepford Wives,” Paula Prentiss said to me, “When I don’t like my wardrobe, I cut it up.” While I didn’t have the audacity of Paula Prentiss, I did want to cut out my outfit for a crucial party scene.
Then there was Tina Louise, who did her own hair and makeup. She took over a bedroom in a home in Westport, Conn., which the film company had rented. We were told, “Don’t go into the bedrooms,” but this didn’t stop Tina. She dismissed the hair and makeup team and won praise for being the most beautiful Stepford Wife. Tina Louise and Paula Prentiss had the balls to stand up for what they believed in.
Which brings to mind “Looper,” which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who gives a stunning portrait of Joe Simon, a bag man. True, he has to play a younger version of Bruce Willis, but still: Gordon-Levitt’s makeup is disturbing; I was frequently watching his weird eyebrows instead of listening to him. He is such a fine actor, why would they mess so badly with that finely chiseled face?
Not that it matters. This film belongs to Willis. With his bald head and slight double chins, he is the center of attention and does not disappoint. His charisma oozes off the screen and you have to hand it to him that at 57, he has not lost his sex appeal.
Time travel is the theme of writer/director Rian Johnson's science fiction tale. In a futuristic gangland in Shanghai in 2044, a 25-year-old Simon works for an assassination company in Kansas City. Loopers are trained assassins who are hired by the menacing crime leader (Jeff Daniels) to kill traitors from the future -- who are sent back to present-day Kansas to suffer the dirty deed.
The loopers are rewarded with gold bricks, which are attached to the backs of their targets. The older Simon, a looper himself, is sent back to the past to be disposed of; the younger Simon is dispatched to “close the loop” and kill him. To prevent his death, Willis tricks Levitt into shooting his back, which is covered in the gold brick, thus saving his life.
In the beginning of this film I felt I needed an interpreter, but as time passed, I was able to go with it. (Norman Mailer would preach to me that chaos is not plot, but writer Rian Johnson never had the privilege of this lecture.)
Emily Blunt appears midway through the film as the mother of a small child (Pierce Gagnon, who steals the film. No mention of this child is made in previous reviews as he is the missing link in the plot. Blunt takes her moments and is exquisite in this film.
Filmed partially in Shanghai, the authentic sets add to the reality of this bizarre tale. “Looper” was selected to open the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Catch it before all the hype gives away its neighbor-grabbing ending. And make sure you go with someone who enjoys talking about "what happened in that film?"
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