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Tag Archives: Emily Blunt

Looper

Looper film posterSynopsis

Set in Kansas in 2074, it stars Gordon Levitt as a “looper”, Joe, whose job is to shoot those fallen foul of the mob.  The victims are sent into the future from 2044 and once the deed is done the killer is rewarded with gold or silver ingots strapped to the victims back.  The gang boss is Jeff Bridges.  The fate of all loopers is to be killed 30 years in the future and this closes the loop.  They are shot with a ‘blunderbuss’.  Joe meets his future self, played by Bruce Willis, but he cannot kill him.  Willis pursues a child who will become a real danger “The Rainmaker” (same idea in Terminator).  The child is looked after by Emily Blunt on her farm.  Can Willis do the job?

Criticism

I sometimes attempt to write science stories but I wouldn’t touch time travel with radiation gloves through a screen!  Time travel works as a comedy (Back to the Future) or as comic book fun (Time Machine or Terminator) but not when it takes itself seriously as in this film.  I always find it pretty bankrupt as a plot device and the notion of time travel seems scientifically and philosophically preposterous.  Looper gets perilously close to cod philosophy about time travel.  Looper also relies on the usual dosage of gratuitous violence, which I have mentioned in a few other offending films.  Dr Johnson said that bestial behaviour is an escape from the pain of being human, mainstream American films certainly do a lot of escaping (like Lawless and a lot of other films). Like Dorothy in Oz, Joe hopes to escape from Kansas and learns French so he can live in Paris but Jeff Bridges from the future advises him to learn Mandarin (a pretty safe prediction).  The street scenes are like in Soylent Green, people are victims of casual brutality.

The sequence on Emily Blunt’s Kansas farm is the longest in the film.  Her farm is surrounded by fields of maize and it reminds me of Cary Grant chased by a crop duster in North by Northwest or aliens in Mel Gibson’s Signs or a lot of Stephen King films.  No good can come of being in a maize field and sure enough Joe is in danger here when he tries to save the “Rainmaker” kid from Bruce Willis as his future self.  The  film lingers a lot on this farm where Emily Blunt plays the obligatorily feisty loner.  There is a sort of love story between Blunt and Joe.  Here we are supposed to think of the nature of love and belonging and identity but it all looks like a pilot for a TV supernatural series.  The kid can levitate people and things so it looks like Omen has got tangled up with some would-be arty film about life on a future farm.  As with a lot of sci-fi films deflecting attention from a possibly tight budget, there is a recurrent gimmicky fetish so in this film people can telekinetically manipulate objects and there are Batman type aerocrafts.  Looper has been praised by critics but I found it shallow and derivative.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen posterSynopsis

Starring Ewan McGregor as fisheries expert Fred Jones, and Emily Blunt as Harriet who recruits him to introduce salmon fishing in the waterways of Yemen, the desert country in southern Arabia.  Fred is not happily married and he is persuaded to start this project for a Yemeni sheikh played by Amr Waked.  Kristin Scott Thomas plays the pushy PR chief who gets the government to back the scheme in the face of lobby opposition.  The project is unwelcome to Yemeni terrorists and they try to sabotage it.  Harriet’s boyfriend has returned from service in Afghanistan but she and Fred get romantic…

Criticism

This is a pretty lightweight rom-com.  I’ve been told it’s different from the novel in its romantic relationship.  For me it’s another of those irritatingly conservative and smug movies that could have been made in the 50’s starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna.  Ewan McGregor is a nice guy and works for UNICEF, so the only good this might do is to fund his UNICEF activities because it’s simply a vacuous waste of time.  It belongs to a world of social class deference when good looking stars are backdropped by servile helpers and good natured flunkies.  Richard Curtis is the chief culprit here, ever since Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill we get this nauseating romantic stuff that goes with the golf course and the country house.  The Yemeni sheikh looks like a benign Ben Kingsley, he becomes a sort of spiritual mentor to these hard eyed western atheists as he takes them around his Scottish estate.  The people of Yemen are ‘goodies’ because they help these westerners, or they are ‘baddies’ because they want to wreck the project.  Any cultural or political complexity is brushed aside.  Kristin Scott Thomas plays the smart-ass, fast talking, cynical politician obligatorily based on Alistair Campbell from Blair’s Labour government.  This is a lazy stereotype to stop the film from sagging.  Kristin Scott Thomas is another actor in danger of becoming like Helen Mirren playing the Queen, she should be careful.

Needless to say westerners overcome the baddies who want to damage the project and this strengthens their romantic interest.  This follows the plot line of too many films and so is wearily predictable.  It looks like a promotional DVD on how not to run an NGO.  Very missable.

 
 

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The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau posterSynopsis

Based on Philip K Dick’s 1954 short story, it’s about an aspiring.politician played by Matt Damon.  He meets Elise (played by Emily Blunt) but he should not marry her, this is decreed by the guys in suits and hats.  These are a sort of guardian angel who watch over humanity.  These angels have details of all our lives which must be lived according to the plan.  Elise must become a great dancer and Matt must become the President of the USA.   They end up running away from Terence Stamp, the chief angel, who tells Damon about the sorry state of unaided humanity and how angels must rescue people from themselves.  It turns out that Damon and Blunt should be together after all but they run through doorways into different places to do it.  One of the angels helps.

Criticism

This would be a decent Twilight Zone story but it’s stretched rather thin over a film, so the film makers of this have decreed that Blunt and Damon’s romance is the central part of the story.    They are fairly good as the central leads, each with a great future yet with the decency to topple ideas of ambition.  In a way the film is a sort of anti-Faustian pact, Damon wants nothing to do with the future the angels, or higher ups, have planned for him.  He inadvertently came upon them re-arranging human thoughts in accordance with the ‘plan’.  These higher ups wear ’50s hats and suits in plain grey and look like benevolent renegade Kafka bureaucrats.  It’s as if Philip Dick is satirizing the bland bureaucrats that have been a recurrent 20th century nightmare even though they work for the human good.  They work in huge Victorian buildings and their insistence on the protocols of destiny make them look unsympathetically pernickety.  Freedom of will is dismissed as a consumerist myth.  Stamp does his usual paternalistic man of wisdom, trying to be patient with Damon raging against destiny.  You could say that this is an updated Sliding Doors, an experiment with alternative outcomes.  It fits with the fad for the supernatural through a very earthly setting.  Blunt and Damon end up in a tower block as if to be shown the riches of the world: John Slattery from Madmen plays one of the angels and he looks indistinguishable from his role as a grey suited executive in the Madmen series.

The film also seems concerned with what motivates people to get into politics “the showbiz of the ugly” !!  Is it really disappointment in love or lack of it?  Certainly Damon is being groomed to be a successful congressman and he rails against the dishonesty and corruption that go into making a US politician.  He excoriates the image makeover that is supposed to appeal to different constituencies.  He experiences a Damascene conversion to truth and authenticity and this means that he is fighting the decrees of the angels.  Familiar stuff this, the power of lerv !!! This makes him a sort of sophisticated Mr Deeds.  He is not rebelling against politics, just its corruption and it doesn’t concern him in the least that he could ask the angels to manipulate the world for his benefit. He stands for decency, and whatever freedom we are capable of, and he will not have anything to do with manipulation for good or ill.

The film pointedly takes us round New York with its post-twin towers resonances.  It seems timeless though set in present time.  The plot really falls apart when we learn that there are no higher ups above Stamp, it’s us and our free will after all. Duh!   So all that running around from doorway to doorway is just a chance for us to watch Emily Blunt in a neat silk dress like in some perfume commercial.  A slight story skilfully stretched but reaches breaking point with Matt and Emily’s runathon.

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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Film Reviews, Out on DVD

 

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