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Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Review: Snowden

Sep 16 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220888:43108:0[/embed] SnowdenDirector: Oliver StoneRelease Date: September 16, 2016Rating: R  Snowden is a film steeped in dramatic irony. It opens with the first meeting of Snowden, Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto). We don't see (then or ever) how he got in touch with them or how he convinced them to go to Hong Kong to meet him. But we know why he's there and why they're there. Everyone knows his name, and I imagine the people who have forgotten what he did will remember pretty quickly once it's all underway. Much of the film takes place in the past, as we watch Snowden go from a young man kicked out of the army after he's injured during boot camp to a CIA employee to a CIA contractor to an NSA contractor to the most famous whistleblower of the modern era. But at each step, we know who and what he will become, and that colors each and every interaction. I imagine it must have been agonizing, during the scripting process, to not get too hammy. The lines exist here and there — perhaps most blatantly: "You won't regret this" after being hired by the CIA — but I imagine that some of those lines were actually said at the time. I would entirely believe that a man would tell his new boss that they wouldn't regret hiring him, for example. Sometime people say things like that. It's only because we know what ultimately happens that that line is seen as anything other than genuine gratitude. To the audience, it's a joke, though no one actually laughed. I don't know how much of Snowden is true and how much is dramatized. I know for a fact that certain things didn't go down the way they were depicted because I remember reading news reports that explained the actual (far less sexy) events three years ago, but those wouldn't have made for compelling drama. Like Snowden, you know something is going to happen, and it's probably bad. He knows it, because he knows what the people he's up against are capable of; you know it, because this isn't the first time you've seen a movie. Movies are all about information. This movie in particular is about information, but I mean in the broader sense of the word, because drama is about the conveying of information. When, where, and how information is presented to the audience can radically change their perception of, well, everything. Information is the most crucial thing in storytelling, and sometimes that information is simple and something it isn't.  What makes Snowden's story so complicated is that the programs he revealed to the world are so complicated. It's hard enough to condense Xkeyscore and Prism and everything else into an easy-to-understand package without needing to also tell a human story about the guy who unveiled it all. Sure, the movie could just not try, but as much as this is Snowden's story, it also is one that tries to explain Why This Matters. Just presenting Snowden is all well and good, but it's crucial that we understand the gravity of the things that Snowden revealed. We need to know why he would throw away his objectively-pretty-good life because something was gnawing at him and he couldn't get away from it. And I think that the film does a decent job of explaining how it all works. Is it oversimplified? Of course... but it's also basically accurate, and that's what matters. People who didn't really pay attention in 2013 or didn't understand what they were being told can learn at least a little bit about what Snowden leaked. That's a big deal. Because information is also power. It's power in the film, but it's also power beyond. In a Q&A session after the film, Oliver Stone was asked what the message of the film was. He rejected the question out of hand and let the others answer it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt said that he thought The Point was to rekindle the conversation, an interest in the things that are talked about. To get people to dig deeper and draw their own conclusions. (The Edward Snowden depicted in the film says something like that, and the real Edward Snowden, beamed in from Moscow during the Q&A, did as well.) They all understand the importance of information. And I think that anyone who sees Snowden will feel it as well. It's an undeniably political film, and Snowden's shift away from hyper-patriotic, semi-authoritarian conservatism is kind of interesting to watch in the context of our current climate. Having seen the general even-handedness of W., I know that Stone isn't out to just make conversatives look bad, but that doesn't mean the reaction to this film won't fall down party lines. Let's be clear: Oliver Stone thinks that what Snowden did is a very important thing, and he stands firmly on his side (though not in all matters, necessarily). As a result of that, I think reactions to it will be heavily partisan. And if not, then what lines does it fall down? Some people will just think it's a bad movie (it's not) because they don't like it. That's fair enough. But others will have a visceral reaction and reject it out of hand. And I want to know why those people do, because I think it matters. To answer the question I posed at the beginning, yes: I think it should start that conversation and bring the issue back to the forefront. But it's important that we start that conversation based on information rather than opinion. It doesn't matter what you think of what Edward Snowden did, whether you think he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail or as a free man. What matters is that the conversation about privacy, about security, about all these extremely important topics can happen now in a way that they couldn't before. Snowden can be a jumping-off point. As the Q&A was getting set up, an older woman a few seats from me stood up. "You're a hero, Mr. Stone," she shouted. People clapped, but it was honestly a little awkward. I wondered how many people in the theater agreed with her. I don't, not really. I don't think that Snowden is a heroic film made by a heroic man. But it doesn't have to be. It just has to be good. To start that conversation, it needs to function as a cohesive narrative, tell a story that is compelling and do so in a compelling way. Snowden does all that. It does more than that. It makes you think. It makes you want to talk. It'll likely make you question your own beliefs about the power that a government should have, regardless of how you feel about it going in. Or maybe it won't, and that's interesting too. The point is that there's something to say, something substantive to discuss. And who know, maybe it can make a difference. How cool would that be?
Snowden Review photo
The power of information
I never saw Citizenfour, the documentary Laura Poitras made about Edward Snowden. I thought about it a lot and certainly meant to, but it was never really a priority for me. This was, in large part, because I followed along w...

JGL leaves Sandman photo
Sandman is back in development hell
Neil Gaiman's Sandman is one of the most celebrated comics of the 90s. It's also one of the most difficult to adapt. It seemed like there was some hope for the project (that's long been in development hell) when Joseph Gordon...

Review: The Night Before

Nov 26 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220167:42716:0[/embed] The Night BeforeDirector: Johnathan LevineRated: RRelease Date: November 20th, 2015 When Ethan's (Joseph Godon-Levitt) parents pass away, his friends Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris Roberts (Anthony Mackie) decide to start a new holiday tradition where they combine all of their usual traditions and party. 14 years later, that tradition is coming to an end as Isaac's becoming a father and Chris is now too famous an athlete to hang out. As their lives drift apart and Ethan's seems to be going nowhere, he clings to the last hope for their tradition: The Nutcracker Ball, a secret super party which the three have been trying to go to for years. As they look for the party, drug laced Christmas shenanigans ensue.  Night Before is incredibly nostalgic. From the outset you'll notice plenty of shout outs to films of Christmas past (like Home Alone and It's a Wonderful Life), but your enjoyment of these references and gags only really work if you remember them well enough. These gags don't have much at face value, but utilize that nostalgic work around to get a pleasant chuckle every now and then. Thankfully the film doesn't do this too much, but the gags that don't work because of this stick out even more so when the original jokes land much better. These little references feel too much like an afterthought, so I'm just left trying to figure why'd they'd even include these in the first place. It brings the film down a notch since this noticeable roughness often comes paired with bouts of awkward silence rather than laughs.  We could debate taste in humor all day, but the main core of the film is decidedly within its three main characters. Each one having their own little adventure, with only two getting true resolution, Ethan, Isaac, and Chris are crafted well. Thanks to the writing, and how comfortable the trio of actors is with one another, these guys feel lived in. Each character has a strong emotional, and most importantly human, center that helps anchor the film when it goes off the rails. Unfortunately, there are points when they get a bit cartoonish (especially during most of Isaac's drug binge or Chris' encounter with a strange thief) and the story goes through these weird non-sequitors which only serve to diminish the film's actual plot. It just seems weird to, at one point, focus on cocaine shenanigans and then try and remind us there's a Christmas story being told. Rogen and Goldberg's films do this all the time, but I guess there's just a more noticeable juxtaposition when the main story is all about holiday niceties.  Johnathan Levine, who's directed Rogen and Gordon-Levitt before in 50/50, captures the spirit of the holiday film quite well. The little details sprinkled throughout the film like the trio's holiday sweaters, the entrance to the Nutcracker Ball feeling appropriately magical, or even not including any holiday music to keep it all inclusive, help to make it timeless, but there are some odd cameos that really date the film and will set it back. And I know the trio have to separate to serve the story, but I wish we were able to enjoy Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Mackie in the same room more. Each of their scenes together is an absolute highlight as they bounce jokes off one another and generally charm up the place. Even some of the film's occasional wonky dialogue comes across natural for them. It's pretty neat to see in action. I hope they find themselves all together in another project someday. Also, if they could somehow get another appearance from the actor that plays Mr. Green, I'd be there day one.  In the end, there's not really much else to say about The Night Before. I had a good time watching, even if there were a couple of times I found myself scratching my head over their comedic choices. If you've seen Rogen and Goldberg's films in the past, you already know what to expect and have decided whether or not to see this already. The addition of Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to the mix helps take the film to a more emotional place than usual, but you're constantly reminded that this is another film in a long line of others like it. It's like that one Christmas where you got a cool Nintendo 64, and you're older cousin keeps telling you he got one first. You're going to have a good time, but it's a little less fun than it should be. 
Night Before Review photo
A partridge in a burning tree
When Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produce a film, you pretty much know what you're going to get. As the duo have made their way through the romantic comedy, high school buddy film, stoner comedy, old Hollywood existential, su...

Review: The Walk

Oct 08 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219838:42632:0[/embed] The WalkDirector: Robert ZemeckisRated: PGRelease Date: September 30, 2015 (IMAX); October 9, 2015 (wide) Throughout The Walk, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his associates speak of artists as anarchists. Artists shake things up, cause people to reconsider the world around them, do things because they are beautiful and new. Yet these statements about the anarchic qualities of artists and their art feel like a form of unintentional self-indictment. The Walk is so painfully conventional, a shiny Hollywood product that wants to inspire its audience to dream big while simultaneously suffering from a deficit of imagination. The biopic cliches are everywhere. While the events in France may be true to Petit's life, Zemeckis and co-writer Christopher Browne make them feel like part of a screenplay checklist: tightrope origin story (check), disowned by parents (check), finds begrudging mentor (check, Sir Ben Kingsley), finds love interest (check, Charlotte Le Bon), establish flaw(s) to be overcome in film's third act (check), fails first attempt at vocation (check) only to triumph immediately after (check), mentor becomes father figure (check). Because these moments feel so perfunctory and familiar rather than lived-in, the first half of The Walk drags. The meet-cute between Philippe and Annie is particularly embarrassing—there's mime involved, and also rain (check). They go from adversaries to lovers bathed in candlelight (check) over the course of an afternoon. But Annie isn't given much to do throughout the rest of the film. She's just there to be Philippe's girlfriend. In another act of unintentional self-indictment, Annie tells Philippe that she's here to help him realize his dream, but she ultimately has to find a dream of her own. The film's finale is 110 stories in the air, but The Walk can't even get over the low hurdle of the Bechdel test. Yet this isn't just Annie's plight. Most of the side characters in the film are generally devoid of personality; they are Philippe's props. Philippe comes across as an angry narcissistic madman in The Walk rather than a charismatic madman, and it's unclear why anyone would want to work with him the way he's written in this film. Once The Walk winds up in New York, the movie picks up the pace and finally becomes enjoyable. Rather than a schlocky, inspirational biopic, the film goes into heist-movie mode. The plan starts to come together, and rhythm becomes brisk, and the movie has an enjoyable breeziness to it. Heist-mode is brief, but it's a welcome reprieve from the biopic stuff, and it sets up the big walk along the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, there are moments of heightened artificial drama (e.g., one of Philippe's friends is extremeley acrophobic). The walk itself is good as a set piece but not all that great. For all the hype about the use of 3D, Zemeckis never exploits image depth to its fullest ability. Staring down from the towers in 3D creates an illusion of height, that's true, but it felt to me like 20 feet (maybe) rather than 1,350 feet. There's little sense of weight or gravity to this world; it's all just lightness. It doesn't help that the towers, the sky, and the city below all feel like CG. Actual photos taken of Petit's walk show a New York that's cool and gray-toned, muted, in the dawn. Zemeckis instead bathes the towers and the digital cityscape in gold and pink hues. The eye notices; the real world is not a Thomas Kinkade painting. The coda to The Walk is a series of uncomfortable allusions to 9/11 that feel cheap and exploitative, even borderline offensive. At one point someone praises Philippe for giving the buildings a soul and making people love The Twin Towers, and they look up longingly into the night sky. It's a cringeworthy attempt to earn your tears. Gordon-Levitt's narration throughout the film doesn't help matters. He speaks French like Inspector Clouseau, situated atop the torch of The Statute of Liberty with the World Trade Center visible in the skyline behind him. It's CG, it's garish, it's surprisingly chintzy, though the worst case of bathos may be a certain moment in the movie that involves a CG bird. In real life there's no actual film footage of Philippe Petit's walk along The Twin Towers. This was likely the impetus for The Walk. It's admirable that Zemeckis would want to re-create a singular event, but I can't help but feel like this is also the reason the event shouldn't be recreated on film. In Man on Wire, Marsh shows stills of the moment accompanied by the quiet, melancholy beauty of Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1." (In The Walk, we hear Beethoven's "Fur Elise," which has never sounded more cliched.) In Let the Great World Spin, McCann recreates the New York of 1974 from different characters and perspectives. Using Petit's singular act, Marsh and McCann invite their viewers/readers to co-create the event in their minds—to be up with Petit, or below watching a dot in the sky from the ground. At no point during The Walk's major set piece did I think, "It feels like I'm there" or "I wish I was there." Zemeckis doesn't give any room for the audience's imagination or co-authorship. There is more danger and beauty in a still photo of Petit on a wire than the whole of The Walk's recreation of the moment. That might speak to the power of Petit's actual work of art.
Review: The Walk photo
A collection of weightless cliches
It's impossible to watch The Walk without thinking about James Marsh's 2008 film Man on Wire. The Academy Award-winning documentary chronicled French tightrope walker Philippe Petit's high-wire act between the towers of the W...

Screenings photo

See The Walk early and free

Washington DC, Baltimore and Norfolk
Sep 28
// Matthew Razak
We may not have dug The Walk all that much when Hubert got a chance to see it at NYFF, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be seen on the big screen. The movie was made specifically for 3D IMAX so that the harrowing effec...
Christmas photo

Red band trailer for The Night Before full of bromance and vomit

Jul 28
// Matthew Razak
The first trailer for The Night Before, a film that will hopefully be a new holiday classic for adults, is here and its full of what you'd expect from a film with Seth Rogen. There's plenty of dumb comedy and drug use and cam...
Snowden photo

Snowden trailer brings Oliver Stone back to reality

Remind me why we're excited?
Jun 30
// Matthew Razak
Oliver Stone's recent work hasn't really lived up to the man's classics, but the guy loves to make films about controversial current events (W., World Trade Center) and his next one takes on Edward Snowden, in the aptly ...

Check out the first photo of JGL in Snowden

First image may not be what you expect
Mar 04
// Matt Liparota
The corpse of the 2015 Oscar telecast is barely cold, but we're already getting our first look at what's sure to be a contender in next year's contest – the first image from Oliver Stone's upcoming biopic Snowden, starr...
The Walk Trailer photo
The Walk Trailer

First trailer for The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Dec 09
// Nick Valdez
Films based on a true stories are always hit or miss, but I'm holding out some hope for Robert Zemeckis' latest project The Walk, based on Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tightrope walk between the World Trade Center's...

Review: Sin City - A Dame to Kill For

Aug 24 // Sean Walsh
[embed]218125:41723:0[/embed] Sin City: A Dame to Kill ForDirector: Robert Rodriguez and Frank MillerRelease Date: August 22Rating: R If you've seen the first film, or read the comics, you should know exactly what to expect: macho men, well-armed prostitutes, and really bad bad guys. The sequel spins four more tales out of Basin City, two from the comics and two all-new stories. We start the film with a Marv (Mickey Rourke) short that is as brief as it is satisfying, then we watch new character Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) match wits with the pure evil of Senator Roarke (Powers Booth) at a game of cards, followed Dwight's (Josh Brolin, taking the place of Clive Owen from the first film) origin story, a tale of manipulation and revenge featuring the titular (emphasis on the first syllable) 'Dame to Kill For,' Ava (Eva Green), and finally, we close the film with Nancy (Jessica Alba) in the second original story in the film, which sees her both drowning her sorrows and plotting revenge against Roarke for the injustice, and ultimate death, or the only man she ever loved: John Hartigan (Bruce Willis). It's a whirlwind of booze, broads, and bullets, and it's exactly what you'd expect from Sin City. The entire cast is nothing short of stellar in their rolls. The actors who returned to their rolls (Rourke, Alba, Willis, Booth, Rosario Dawson, and more) stepped into them like comfortable, broken-in shoes. New actors (Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Christopher Meloni, Ray Liotta, Julia Garner, Stacey Keach, and many more) all excel in their rolls. Finally, the actors replacing others in their rolls (Brolin for Owen, Jamie Chung for Devin Aoki, Dennis Haysbert for the late Michael Clarke Duncan, Jeremy Piven for Michael Madsen) were by and large worthy replacements, although if you didn't know that Piven was playing the same character that shot Bruce Willis in the first film, you might assume he's a new character as well. Of particular note, Eva Green was spectacular. Not only is she gorgeous to look at (spending much of her screentime fully nude), but she plays the role of Ava so well it's comparable to Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man in terms of perfect casting. Replacing a mountain (in both stature and talent) like Michael Clarke Duncan is an imposing challenge for anybody, but the Allstate Guy really blew it out of the water. Jamie Chung also impressed me in the role of deadly, little Miho, the silent ninja prostitute, to the point where you almost forget that she's filling in (although those missing Aoki's Miho will be glad to hear she'll be playing Katana in season three of Arrow). Gordon-Levitt, surprisingly nobody, plays the suave, slick gambler to a T, and his role alone is worth the price of admission. Similarly, Rourke's return as Marv is sure to delight, although appearing in all four parts is almost overkill. Finally, I was pleased to see Willis' Hartigan appear as a ghostly witness to Alba's downward spiral, and even if it was a wig, I was glad to see they nailed his hair. The Robert Rodriguez does what Robert Rodriguez does best with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For , co-directing, shooting, editing, and scoring the film with zeal. Frank Miller's script is spot on, full of macho men, hookers with guns, and minimal dames in distress. The adaptation of A Dame to Kill For is spot on, and while I haven't read anything past That Yellow Bastard nearly as many times as the first four collected books (which served as the source material for 95% of the first movie and the title piece from this one), the opening sequence with Marv was absolutely delightful. The two new stories weren't bad, with Gordon-Levitt's serving to make us remember why we hate Senator Rourke and Alba's finale finally delivers what fans of the comic and the movie have been waiting for. One complaint I do have, however, is no one line in the film struck me like many of the first's did. Marv doesn't once remark on the quality of an adversary's jacket (although there are certainly jacket references) nor did any of Josh Brolin's dialogue-via-gritted-teeth impact me like half of Hartigan's lines from the first movie. In the grand scheme, this is a minor complaint but it certainly sat with me after walking out of the theater. This film is a long time coming. Was it worth the wait? If you're a fan, yes, absolutely. It's exactly what you want from a Sin City movie.It adapts two more stories while expanding the Sin City universe. If you're not a fan, you might be bored, as it takes time to tell a story, and there's four crammed in here. On top of that, it's admittedly a juvenile universe where a majority or its females are either waitresses or prostitutes (sheer badassery notwithstanding), its men are manly or even seemingly superhuman, and its cops and politicians are as corrupt as they come. But most of the people that are coming to see this film know that walking in. If you're looking for a trip into a gritty, stylized noir world full of action, gunfights, and brutality, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is for you. If you're not, maybe you'll enjoy When the Game Stands Tall (but if you're like Matt, you probably won't). In closing, do I think my grandmother would enjoy this film? Yes, because she's awesome and it had plenty of her favorite character. I personally am most excited for a supercut (hopefully one I can buy) of both films in one, chronological bundle (Nancy going from angsty drunk to bright-eyed stripper who has her heart in it still was jarring, even for me). I wish I could close with some sort of awesome Sin City reference, but all I can come up with are "Helluva way to end a partnership" and "I took away his weapons. Both of them." neither seem fitting. 
Sin City 2 Review photo
More like 'A Cast to Kill For'
Sin City has always had a special place in my heart. Way back in 2005, when the first film came out, I was in my senior yearo f high school, taking Film as Art. One of our assignments was to write a paper on a film we se...

Sin City 2 Trailer photo
Sin City 2 Trailer

Comic-Con trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Aug 01
// Nick Valdez
Robert Rodriguez's recent work has been criticized for being more style over substance, and this trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For showed off during San Diego Comic-Con isn't helping matters. While it plays like an ex...

Rogen and Gordon-Levitt coming back together for Xmas

Hopefully less cancer this time around
Feb 11
// Matthew Razak
The heavily under appreciated 50/50 was probably one of Seth Rogen's best performances and really landed Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an entirely awesome human being in every way for me. It's exciting to hear that they'll be ...
The Wind Rises photo
The Wind Rises

Miyazaki's The Wind Rises gets English voice cast

Featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elijah Wood, and Werner F**king Herzog
Dec 17
// Nick Valdez
Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (which could very well be his final film before retirement) has been inching closer and closer to a domestic release after it's fly through Japan. Shortly after getting the first US trailer for...
JGL Sandman photo
Gordon-Levitt is off to never never land
A few weeks ago we caught wind of a rumor that David S. Goyer (writer of Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the upcoming Batman/Superman movie) was pitching an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman with Joseph Gordon-Le...

Sandman Movie photo
Totally up in the air, but lets get really excited
Where there's a whole bunch of names you should be excited to see together. David S. Goyer, who wrote the new Batman trilogy and Man of Steel, is pitching a new adaptation of Neil Gayman's graphic novel series Sandman&nb...

Ant-Man Frontrunners photo
Ant-Man Frontrunners

UPDATE: No, Joseph Gordon-Levitt will not lead Ant-Man

Oct 16
// Nick Valdez
UPDATE: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Edgar Wright have shot down the rumor (Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd were in meetings for the Ant-Man lead) with the former calling it "outright lies." According to an interview with the French ...

Review: Don Jon

Sep 27 // Allistair Pinsof
Don JonDirector: Joseph Gordon-LevittRating: NRRelease Date: January 18, 2013 (Sundance Film Festival), March 11, 2013 (SXSW) Jon lives in an era of the transparency of porn. Hard cocks and jiggling boobs are shown in detail and freely available every waking hour on the internet. Sexual suggestion is now reserved for TV ads of a girl in tank top eating a cheeseburger while almost but not quite having an orgasm. Don Jon is a tool, a Guido, a chump, to be dismissed on first glance. Yet, Gordon-Levitt makes him a likeable guy and a sympathetic victim of his environment. Jon would fit right in with the cast of Jersey Shore, but somehow his machismo is endearing, calling to mind John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever or Rocky. He`s self-centered but not without heart. Wanting to discover a new plateau in his sex life (excluding porn), Jon courts ("long-term game") Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), an inarguable "diamond" according to Jon. Though he can`t see the point of romantic films any better than his older female friend (Julianne Moore) can see the point of him watching porn, Jon surprises himself with the lengths he goes to win this girl over. In the end, the sex is just sex -- a far cry from his coveted porn collection. Gordon-Levitt gives Don Jon a repetitive rhythmic pace in both editing and scripting. Sequences of porn browsing, club encounters, and road rage repeat throughout the film, mirroring the loud energetic but ultimately monotonous music blaring at the clubs Jon frequents. The camera work is also accelerated, often circling around scenes with great speed. The persistent use of music paints a strange mood around the film, blending hyper club anthems with a traditional string score and electronic glitch effects. Don Jon is a familiar love story that never feels like one. After all, it's a film about a narcissistic macho man who falls in love with sex. What makes Don Jon so great is the personality Gordon-Levitt brings to his material in both direction and performance. Undeterred, Gordon-Levitt examines porn's effect on society while keeping the film innocent and insightful. Geoff Henao: Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his writing/directorial debut with the fascinating Don Jon. While still fundamentally a romantic comedy, Gordon-Levitt touches on much deeper themes, such as the "stereotypical" portrayal of masculinity and how men feel as if they have to live up to such expectations, as well as a look at unrealistic depictions of sex in porn and how "real" sex is nowhere like the fantasy sex displayed online. However, Gordon-Levitt uses comedy and humor to address these issues. What results is a smart (probably the smartest) rom-com that isn't heavy-handed. Sometimes, the move from being in front of the camera to behind the camera can be hard, but with Gordon-Levitt's many years in the business, the transition was fine-tuned. From the editing to the acting to the script, Don Jon just feels like a labor of love. I hope and pray Gordon-Levitt acts for the rest of his life, but if he ever does decide to permanently move behind the camera, Don Jon is proof that he'll be perfectly fine in the director's seat. 85 -- Exceptional
Don Jon Review photo
That's some good jerkin'
Our rabid consumption of media informs our lives and habits as much as our upbringing. For Jon, that media obsession is porn. When he isn't debating what number to rate a girl at the club, he is masturbating three times a day...


JGL and Channing Tatum wanted for Guys and Dolls remake

Too... too much sexy
Apr 26
// Matthew Razak
With the sputtering revival of the film musical and the absolute dominance of remakes in Hollywood it's a small wonder that more classic musicals haven't been remade yet. One of those classics, Guys and Dolls, has been on Hol...

Joseph Gordon-Levitt cast in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

But he's out for Guardians of the Galaxy
Jan 08
// Thor Latham
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has quickly risen to be one of Hollywood's best and brightest. He continues to score roles in huge films and his performance never disappoints. It's good to hear, then, that he has officially joined the c...

Joseph Gordon Levitt may star in Guardians of the Galaxy

JGL continues his conquest of Hollywood
Jan 02
// Thor Latham
The unstoppable "Boy Wonder" Joseph Gordon Levitt has apparently been thrown into the running for playing what is most likely to be the central role in James Gunn's and Marvel's upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. JGL is n...

I'm going to assume everyone who wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises has seen it by now, so won't be skirting around spoilers - as though the headline hadn't given everything away already. At the end of the movie, Christian B...


It's the return of the Flixist Movie Club, this time dissecting Rian Johnson's Looper! Surprisingly, this is a very coherent, not-disturbing show, so if you're looking for someone to get raped, it's sadly not going to happen....

Review: Looper

Sep 28 // Matthew Razak
[embed]213026:38906[/embed] LooperDirector: Rian JohnsonRelease Date: September 28, 2012Rated: R  About 20 minutes into Looper old Joe (Bruce Willis) sits down with his past self, young Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) for a chat. Young Joe basically tosses all the questions about time travel that the audience is thinking at the same time at old Joe. Old Joe sits there for a few seconds while young Joe rattles off questions until old Joe gets so annoyed he finally slams the table and yells that none of it matters. Young Joe listens and shuts up, and so does the audience. I tell this little tidbit because it's indicative of what Looper does so wonderfully throughout the film: developing a strong story and characters so that the hiccups in the plot either don’t matter or aren’t thought about. It’s nearly impossible to write a flawless time travel film, so instead of attempting to make everything fit together logically (which, for the most part, it does anyway) director Rian Johnson makes it all fit together emotionally, beautifully constructing a story that keeps you guessing while setting its conclusion up perfectly. It’s a movie you walk out of discussing why the story worked instead of picking apart its flaws. What makes it work is that the ideas are just so much bigger than the minutia, provoking thought about what is going on with the characters and not the story itself. It also helps that in a sea of remakes, sequels and adaptations this is one of the few original sci-fi/action films we’re seeing this year. And it is almost entirely original. Veering in and out of as many genres as it possibly can (gangster, chase, horror, sci-fi, action, drama, family) Looper tells an intense story that you haven’t seen before. In the near future time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but it will be in the further future. It’s illegal, however, and the only people who use it are crime syndicates. They use it to send people back in time to the near future in order to kill them since it’s become nearly impossible to murder someone in the far future and get away with it. You’re mind is probably already racing with questions about how things work, but remember to listen to Bruce Willis and just go with it. Young Joe is a Looper in the past (our near future). Loopers are the people who do the killing for the crime syndicates in the far future. The syndicate sends someone back in time and the Looper shoots them and dumps their body after removing their pay. It’s a very wealthy life, but there’s one catch. If the Looper is still alive in 30 years they get sent back to be killed by themselves, thus closing their loop. Old Joe gets sent back, but Young Joe doesn’t kill him and things just start going downhill for Young Joe from there. The intricate and quite delicately balanced story is both too complicated warrant explaining and far too good to spoil so I won’t go any further here. Needless to say this movie will surprise you in many ways. What isn’t surprising is that Joseph Gordon Levitt is amazing and Bruce Willis is a bad ass. With the aid of some impressive prosthetics Levitt channels Willis with a disturbing amount of accuracy. Levitt nails Willis’ facial mannerisms, especially his smirk, and scenes with the two of them together are almost eerily creepy. Willis on the other hand delivers one of those performances where it only sinks in later how truly nuanced it was. Few men can take a character who eventually mows down a small army with machine guns and turn him into an actual person. There are, of course, other actors in this film who do a great job, but it’s definitely the Willis/Levitt show until right up to the very end when a surprise level of bad-assnes erupts from an unlikely source. I have specifically not gone too in depth about Looper because it’s one of those movies that just needs to unfold in front of you. Talking about how well the story is constructed, the full plot, the detailed world and the major philosophical questions raised would simply make the film less enjoyable and interesting for anyone watching. This is a movie to walk into blind and then come out with your head spinning with questions. This is what happens when original ideas are allowed to grow to fruition in Hollywood, and it’s pretty much some of the best moviemaking of the year.
Time travel has never been this original
Time travel is a sticky wicket for movies, and really all stories in general. There’s just so many contradictions, loopholes and moving parts that things get complicated. By the end of a time travel movie you’re u...


Looper would probably make an awesome video game

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Trailer: Looper

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International Trailer: Looper

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