Rian Johnson Serves Up Scoop on Looper, Brick and Breaking Bad

by Ethan Alter September 25, 2012 6:01 am
Rian Johnson Serves Up Scoop on <i>Looper</i>, <i>Brick</i> and <i>Breaking Bad</i>

Setting a Philip Marlowe-like detective story, complete with pulpy dialogue and a twist-laden narrative, in high school sounds like a recipe for disaster. But writer/director Rian Johnson somehow pulled it off in his 2005 breakthrough Brick, a movie that's acquired a devoted cult following in the seven years since its release. Johnson himself has gone on to acquire a significant fanbase as well, through his work on movies like The Brothers Bloom and two terrific episodes of Breaking Bad, Season 3's "Fly" and Season 5's "Fifty-One." His latest feature Looper, which opens on Friday, reunited Johnson with his Brick star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Joe, a hitman living in a near-future where time travel is used by the Mob to get rid of any undesirables. These assassins -- or "loopers" -- are tasked with killing the people their bosses send back in time, a job that Joe carries out with relish... that is until he discovers that his next target is none other than his future self (Bruce Willis). On a recent publicity tour though New York, Johnson sat down to talk with us about time travel movies, whether he'll ever revisit Brick and if he'll be directing one of the finale eight episodes of Breaking Bad.

Looper: If I Could Turn Back Time

by Ethan Alter September 28, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Looper</i>: If I Could Turn Back Time

In general, there are two main approaches filmmakers can take to a time travel story. The first is to dive headlong into the logistics and consequences of trips back and forth in time, merrily twisting the audience's mind into knots by piling potential paradox on top of potential paradox (see movies like Primer, Back to the Future, Part II and the sorely underseen Spanish import Timecrimes). The other is to use time travel as a device to set the story in motion and introduce potential plot complications without sweating the details too much (see Back to the Future parts 1 and 3, Time Bandits and Midnight in Paris). In its early scenes, Rian Johnson's new action picture Looper seems like it's going to be the first kind of time travel yarn, but then switches over to the second. Since I'm the odd soul that prefers Back to the Future, Part II over the original -- few would probably rank the third one as their favorite -- I have to admit to being a little disappointed by Looper's change of heart. But credit where credit's due: Johnson has crafted a smart, inventive piece of mainstream entertainment that will likely find the kind of wide audience more cultish time travel movies like Primer didn't.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 1, 2013

by Ethan Alter January 1, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"So Joseph... can you talk me out of making Die Hard 5?"

<i>Cloud Atlas</i>: Five Other Unadaptable Books We’d Like to See As Movies

We've already listed some of the other unlikely book-to-film translations that Cloud Atlas put us in mind of. But seeing what writer/directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski achieved with this challenging adaptation of David Mitchell's unique novel made us eager for some brave visionary to bring the following five seemingly unadaptable books brought to the screen.


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