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Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited semi-autobiographical reminiscence of his childhood is here, and it’s perfect. Too perfect. José swoons over the way The Fabelmans transports him to its place and time and shows love and understanding to everybody it depicts, but has to admit that a few rougher edges here and there would have done it a favour. There’s only so much drama in the life of Spielberg’s young avatar, Sammy Fabelman, and that which there is is on the tame side. But Spielberg’s love for his parents is obvious and appealing, as is his love for cinema, which he’s unafraid to get specific about – the sequences that show Sammy making and screening films convey an interest in the aesthetics, technicalities, and effects of film, rather than giving it the far vaguer “magic of the movies” treatment such “love letters to cinema” often offer.
The Fabelmans is as unwilling to explore the dark side of humanity as we’re used to Spielberg being, but it avoids his proclivity for schmaltz, and José loved it. So there.
With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.
Visually disappointing but narratively enthralling film about a Looper, an executioner who kills people from the future in the present. Time travel doesn’t exist in the present but it does in the future, thus people from the future get shipped back to the film’s present, the looper shoots them as they appear, disposes of the body and gets paid. No one is looking for the bodies in the present and nobody can find them in the future. But who is disposing of these bodies and why? That’s what the rest of the story tries to tell in this dystopian futuristic thriller in which one can detect elements of The Omen (Richard Donner, USA, 1976) and The Fury (Brian de Palman, USA, 1978). The story lacks tension and feels a bit long but it does fascinate. The drugs, the want, the sense of a failed state with no law and order, with hungry people rummaging the countryside and those prairies full of rotting fields are a subtle critique of America now and, like many contemporary films, Looper deals with current anxieties by depicting, denouncing and somewhat resolving the most hateful aspects of this new Depression we’re living in, albeit tangentially. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a subtle imitation of a young Bruce Willis, it’s mostly the nose, but with a few mannerisms thrown in; then he shows what a truly brilliant actor he is because he can let go of the disguise; it’s not straightforward imitation. Emily Blunt disappoints; sadly, because she’s so sympathetic one wants her to be good. Looper is intelligent and enjoyable sci-fi thriller that offers well-executed action and also leaves audiences with an interesting set of ideas to think about and discuss.