Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels
Director: Rian Johnson (CERT 15, 118 minutes)
The plot: Kansas, 2044. The economy isn’t in great shape, but paid assassin Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is doing OK: he gets paid in silver, which is attached to the bodies of the poor saps that are blasted back from the future for summary execution. All Loopers have to do is stand at the designated place and time, finger on the trigger, but Joe falters when he realises his latest target is none other than himself, 30 years older (Willis). He soon comes to regret that hesitation, and not just because of the wrath of his scary boss (Daniels)…
What’s right with it? From the basic premise, you might imagine that Looper is a high-concept sci-fi actioner about a younger and older version of the same person crossing time barriers to unite against a common foe, but a) it isn’t, and b) it’s actually a lot more interesting than that. As Joe holes up with single mum Sara (Blunt) and her young son in an isolated farmstead, the film achieves an unexpected emotional depth, and you’ll enjoy puzzling out the rules of this elaborately conceived universe.
What’s wrong with it? We initially struggled to care about a paid murderer that leads a swanky life in a dystopian future where others starve, even if Joe seems like a soulful type who listens to vinyl records and is learning French. In no small part thanks to Gordon-Levitt’s huge likeability, we soon got past this hurdle.
Verdict: With the notable exception of GI Joe, the presence of Gordon-Levitt is a reliable indicator of a film having some kind of intelligence, ambition and merit. With Looper, he’s picked another fun ride with both heart and brains. 4/5 @charlesgant
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott
Director: Jay Roach (CERT 15, 86 minutes)
The plot: After incumbent North Carolina congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) commits an embarrassing sex gaffe, his rich backers decide to unseat him with mild-mannered family man Marty Huggins (Galifianakis).
What’s right with it? Both leads, though hardly stretched, generate mucho mirth in an amiable comedy that leaves no mud-slinging, baby-kissing cliché unsatirised.
What’s wrong with it? After a lively first hour, things run out of juice as the writers toil to redeem their protagonists in time for a fuzzy, feel-good ending.
Verdict: With Will and Zach on autopilot, the real fun lies in the film’s broad potshots at the electoral process, and a colourful supporting cast that includes McDermott as a ruthless political operative. 3/5 NEIL SMITH
Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Kylie Minogue
Director: Leos Carax (CERT 18, 116 minutes)
The plot: At night in Paris, the mysterious Monsieur Oscar (Lavant) is chauffeured in a white stretch limo. At each stop, he assumes a different identity and has a surreal encounter.
What’s right with it? If you like your arthouse films to be not just baffling but seriously bonkers, this should be right up your alley.
What’s wrong with it? A trenchcoat-wearing, torchsong-warbling Kylie Minogue inhabits one of the more accessible segments, but don’t ask us what a burka-clad Eva Mendes was all about.
Verdict: This is only the second feature from Leos Carax since his swooningly romantic 1991 drama The Lovers On The Bridge, with Juliette Binoche, and his first since 1999’s Pola X. For highly adventurous cineastes only. 3/5 @charlesgant