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Beyond Fest '16: The Bad Batch


Year: 2012
Director: Rian Johnson
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: R
Time: 118 mins

Looper is an ultra sleek, sophisticated tale of time-traveling that unravels with such complexity and wit that it undoubtedly gives the sci-fi genre a run for it's money. It is riddled with mind-bending time-travel story-lines that will make you replay the events over and over again in your head with the complements of eye-squinting and head rubbing. Director and writer Rian Johnson has proved once again that he is one of the the most innovative filmmaker of today and here to stay. He debuted his first film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2005's Sundance favorite, Brick, showcasing his talent and ability as a promising filmmaker. And once again reunited for Looper, Johnson solidifies his talent as a true visionary that can entertain as well as intellectually feed the creatively famished beings that we are. 

The year is 2044 and Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is employed as a looper, a profession that requires killing people from the future. Time travel will be invented thirty years later in 2074 and immediately banned, only to be used in secret by big-time organized criminals who send their targets back in time and have loopers wipe them out without a trace. In the lopping profession, it is mandated that one day, they would have to "close their loop" which means that the loopers will be unknowingly assigned to kill the future version of themselves hence the name, loopers. They are paid handsomely and let go to live the last thirty years of their lives however they please. 

In stylistic fashion, Looper is shot with striking visual presence that is carefully mapped out with surgeon like precision that it seems effortless. The world Johnson creates is like the hipster version of dystopia, that is only if you are wealthy in means of prostituting or looping, other than that, you are included in the 99% of homeless people. Joe lives in a fragmented world with his fellow looper Seth (Paul Dano, played to perfection) and night club dancer aka a prostitute, Susie (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly girl) with the continuous accommodation of a new drug via eye drops. His lavish lifestyle is not fated to last especially when one by one his comrade loopers are assigned to close their loop and he knows he could be next. Cautiously he waits at his destination to kill and instantly sees the older version of himself (Bruce Willis) and hesitates. Older Joe flees which causes irrevocable damage to Joe's reputation and relationship with looper head boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels)  by "letting your loop run."  As the younger and older version of Joe are now on the run from each other and other loopers, the tension in my neck pressed on as I stressed of the impending and dooming climax. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt disappears into his role as the younger version of Bruce Willis, that I rarely see a trace of Gordon-Levitt at all. His conviction to hunt down Willis and make amends with Abe is undeniable, claiming that Willis already lived his life so he should be able to too. I will watch almost anything Willis makes these days ( I mean I even watched Cop Out, eek!) and by far, his role in Looper brought a whole level of depth to his acting ability. There was a piercing conviction in his eyes when he tried to rationalize with younger Joe to help him carry out his mission. Although there was a hint of eeriness as the version of the two sat in front of each other trying to make the sense of the situation. Old Joe slips young Joe an address in which to meet at where then he comes across Sara, (Emily Blunt) the badass owner of the farm. The story is more complicated than I had expected and it was uncertain how they will end such a grand spectacle like this especially considering the film is not reminiscent of any other film and is truly original in every form. But it is his precise thought and vision that allows Johnson to make a full circle while making our head spin twice over and wraps everything up in a neat bow. A


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As soon as someone reblogged the torturously anticipated trailer of Park Chan-Wook's (J.S.A., Vengeance Trilogy) U.S. debut film, Stoker on Tumblr, I jumped faster than Tom Cruise jumped on that couch and pressed play. Immediately into the seconds of the trailer, the soundtrack and the look to the film screeched an unholy volume of Park Chan-Wookness that made me devour the straw of my caprisun to cripples of plastic. I don't want to give anything away because the trailer should more than sufficient (esp. the opening lines, chilling!) in convincing anyone wary to instantly become a Park Chan-Wook fan if they weren't one already (seriously who isn't, kill em). Wentworth Miller (yes, THAT Prison Break guy) wrote the screenplay for Stoker which is a prequel to Uncle Charlie under the pseudonym Ted Foulke because god forbid, an actor write a hauntingly beautiful piece of work and actually get picked up! His script was voted on the 2010 "Black List" of the 10 best unproduced screenplays making its rounds in Hollywood and I'm elated to discover that Park got to be the one to direct it. Mia Wasikowska. Nicole Kidman. Matthew Goode. Jacki Weaver. And Park Chan-Wook. I don't think it gets any better than this. Stoker will be released on March 1, 2013! I don't know if I can wait that long...

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It seems like Dredd 3D came out of nowhere. Maybe it's because I stream all my tv shows instead of watching them on tv, but I haven't seen a single trailer of Dredd till i youtubed it myself. Although I haven't seen the first forgettable Dredd (Judge Dredd) movie starring Stallone, I was quite excited about this revision of the film starring Karl Urban ( i was like who? ) and none other than Olivia Thirlby (why did they make her blond?!). It's an instant cult classic that is very Robocop (1987) meets The Raid: Redemption (2011). I kind of regret not seeing it in 3D because there were some intense visceral action going on in the film esp during the drug intake sequences (talk about being high). It was boiling with gore and action, the kind of action that I've been CRAVING for these days. Even though, they fought with mostly guns, it was a notch up from this year's Safe (2012) (see my review here). Urban did not have much choice considering most of his acting comprised of his jaw and his batman-like voice which surprisingly works here. Olivia Thrilby was immensely enjoyable as the psychic rookie on her first day out in "training". If it was a few bucks less, I would see it again in 3D! B-
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Year: 2012
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: R
Time: 109 mins.

David Ayer has written (Training Day, S.W.A.T) and directed (Harsh Times, Street Kings) numerous films related to the drama of the law enforcement and still it seems like he isn't tired of the same old story-lines. To make his third film, End of Watch have a new breath of seemingly fresh air, he used found-footage film to amplify the reality. By handing the camera over to Jake Gyllenhaal's Officer Taylor and Michael Pena's Officer Zavala ("Z"), Ayer gambles on the validity of the reality he desperately wanted to maintain through this medium.  In the end, it pays off and even overwhelms the little faults to be dismissed as passable.

After confiscating a small amount of money and firearms from a member of dangerous cartel on a routine traffic stop, Two LAPD officers are aimed for death.  

The problem with making a film entirely of "found footage" is that the character needs a reason to film everything. And while in Chronicle it worked as an outlet for Andrew's isolation, Officer Taylor's excuse was that he was filming for school credit which is not plausible enough to jeopardize his career. Instead of mixing found footage and standard shots, the film carries on in this fashion and at moments there is an ominous-like mystery figure holding the camera which causes the audience to become aware of itself by ruining the immersion. The camera technique works for the most part but for future reference, it's better used as a technique rather than part of the story-line. The "Blair Witch" camera movements does it's job by creating a claustrophobic atmosphere within their everyday life-threatening encounter.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena has mad chemistry as the "we ride, we die together" kind of  LAPD partners. Their characters truly shine like rhinestones on a .45 gun in the private moments of patrolling the streets of south central. They giggle and chuckle like little girls as they joke and mimic each other in their respective ethnic accent is not only for comic purposes but shows the depths of their friendship. You know people like this and they speak the gritty truth about their backgrounds, relationships, and ambitions. Seeing Pena doing an "white" person's accent was priceless and hearing the audience burst into hollers brought a new level of reality to the story. It was the first instance I've witnessed on film where a character addresses another character especially of "white" decent to become aware of his ethnicity and privileges. The film put more emphasis on the iron strong bond between the two officers which is always a heartbreaking formula for disaster. Officer Taylor's immature eagerness to become the hero becomes the driving force to the story as he tries to investigate the wrong people. Their encounters with gangsters fuel their own will to become like them as well as being the hero which eventually serves as a plateau to their success and their fall. At the end of the day and the movie, even through it's formulaic story, it is the brotherhood relationship that makes this adrenaline-inducing film bearable. B-

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January

1. Beginners. B+
2. The Help. A
3. The Artist. B+
4. The Descendants. A-
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A-
6. Underworld: Awakening. B+
7. The Future. C+
8. Haywire. B+
9. The Grey. A
10. Happythankyoumoreplease. C+

February
11. What's up, Tiger Lily. B-
12.God Grew Tired of Us. A
13. Kings of Pastry. B+
14. Chronicle (2012). A
15. Herb & Dorothy. A
16. Hunger. A
17. Safe House (2012). B+
18. Training Day. A

March
19. The Lorax (2012) B+
20. Friends with Kids. B+
21. Rock of Ages (2012) B+
22. 21 Jump St (2012). A-
23. The Hunger Games (2012) A-
24. The Raid Redemption (2012) B+
25. Carnage (2011) B+
26. The Adventures of Tin Tin (2011) A
27. Take Shelter (2011) A

April
28. Nameless Gangster. (2012) B-
29. A Dangerous Method (2011) A
30. Titanic 3D (2012) B+
31. Bronson. (2008) A
32. Into the Abyss. (2011) A
33. Safe (2012). C+

May
34. The Avengers (2012). A-
35. Five year Engagment (2012). B-
36. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) B+

June
37. Snow White and the Huntsmen (2012). B-
38. A Bittersweet Life. A
39. The Producers (1968). B-
40. Prometheus (2012) A-
41. A Better Tomorrow. C+
42. Silmido. A
43. Secret Sunshine A
44. Brave (2012) B+ 
45. Magic Mike (2012) B+

July
46. Potiche B-
47. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) A-
48. Save the Green Planet B-
49. Savages (2012) C-
50. Last Night (2010) B+
51. Back to the Future. A
52. Back to the Future II. A-
53. Back to the Future III. B+
54. Total Recall (1990) A
55. Men in Black II (2002) C+
56. Men in Black III (2012) A-
57. Operation Condor (1991) B+
58. The Rules of Attraction (2002) B+
59. Beasts of Southern Wild (2012) A-
60. Jackie Brown (1997) B-
61. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) B+
62. I Love you, Phillip Morris (2009) B-
63. Ruby Sparks (2012) C+

August
64. Silenced A
65. Total Recall (2012) C+
66. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007) A
67. Charade B+
68. Tomboy (2011) A
69. A Fish name Wanda B
70. The Intouchables (2012) B+
71. The Devil's Double. B+
72. Little Shop of Horrors. B+
73. Premium Rush (2012) C+
74. Paranorman (2012). A
75. Sabrina. B
76. A Separation. A
77. Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012). B+
78. Jiro Dreams of Sushi A
79. Lawless (2012) B-

September
80. The Expendables 2 (2012) B+
81. Compliance (2012) B+
82. Outrage (2010) B-
83. The Runaways (2010) B-
84. The Red Shoes. A
85. Dancer in the Dark. A
86. Tommy Boy B+
87. Bachelorette (2012) C+
88. Blue (1993) A
89. Band of Outsiders. (1964) B+
90. End of Watch. (2012) B-
91. To Live and Ride in LA. B
92. Enter the Dragon (1973) A
93. Legend of the Drunken Master. B
94. Pretty in Pink. (1986) A
95. Star Wars: A New Hope. B+
96. The Master (2012) A
97. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. A
98. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) A
99. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. (1982) A
100. Jaws (1975) A
101. Breaking Upwards (2009) B-
102. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) B+
103. Dredd (2012) B-
104. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) A
105. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) A
106. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) A
107. Fitzcarraldo (1982) A
108. Looper (2012) A-

October
109. Amour (2012) A
110. The Dreamers (2003) B-
111. Seven Psychopaths (2012) B-
112. Taken (2012) C+
113. Dracula (1931) B+
114. Frankenweenie (2012) A-
115. Hotel Translyvania (2012) B-
116. An American Werewolf in London (1981) B+
117. Pitch Perfect (2012) C+
118. Duck Soup (1933) B+
119. Sherlock Jr. (1924) B+
120. Foxy Brown (1974) B+
121. Argo (2012) B+
122. The Facts of Life (1960) B+
123. The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) B
124. Planet of the Apes (1968) B+
125. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988) B-
126. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) A
127. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) B+
128. The Thing (1982) A-
129. This is Spinal Tap (1984) B+
130. Cloud Atlas (2012) B+
131. 3 Women (1977) A

November

132. The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) C+
133. Post Tenebras Lux (2012) B+
134. Reality (2012) A
135. Wreak-it Ralph (2012) A
136. In Another Country (2012) B+
137. Pieta (2012) A
138. The Isle (2000) A
139. The Samaritan Girl (2004) B+
140. The Big Combo (1955) A
141. Skyfall (2012) A
142. Detour (1945) A
143. Flight (2012) A-
144. Sliding Doors (1998) C+
145. Life of Pi (2012) B+
146. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. II (2012) B-
147. How to Steal a Million (1966) B-
148. Lincoln (2012)
149. Gomorrah (2008)
150. Trouble with the Curve (2012) C+
151. What's New Pussycat (1965) B+
152. Killer's Kiss (1955) B-
153. Silver Lining Playbook (2012) A
154. The Invisible War (2012) A
155. Killing Them Softly (2012) B+

156. Klown B+
157. Oasis (2002) A
158. Boogie Nights (1999) A
159. Anna Karenina (2012) B
160. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) A
161. We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011) A
162. Paris, Texas (1984) A
163. Badlands (1973) B+
164. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) B+
165. Lord of the RIngs: The Return of the King (2003) A
166. Shame (2011) A-
167. The Hobbit (2012) B+
168. Two Days in New York (2012) B+
169. Three Colors: White (1994) A
170. Three Colors: Red (1994) B+
171. Django Unchained (2012) B
172. Jack Reacher (2012) C+
173. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) A

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I'm amazed that I waited till I was 23 to finally watch Pretty in Pink (1986). I almost died from every single shot, line, character that was sewn so neatly together to teenage dream perfection. It made me realize that Pretty in Pink encased the 80's like the The Perks of Being a Wallflower (out this week) did for the 90's. It gushes and oozed of high school nostalgia from the bullies to the dances to our first loves. No one forgets these moments especially the people you shared them with and I'm sure we all had a Duckie of our own. I need to get this on DVD ASAP and re-watch  it till it burns from exhaustion. It truly makes one appreciate the immense talent and wit that John Hughes possessed that allowed him to represent and give voice to an entire generation. And even though he presented mostly teens from the eighties, these teen issues reverberate throughout generations to come. I've been meaning to read Don't You Forget About Me, a collection of essays of contemporary writers on John Hughes' films. Now, all I have left to do is go through the whole Hughes' work starting from Sixteen Candles to Maid in Manhattan. Here we go....!
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Postercollective just posted up some of Lauren Rolwing's revision of classic foreign film (with the exception of Grey Gardens) posters that take on an abstract aesthetic rather than mundane montage formats that we're used to seeing nowadays. I'm glad to say that I've watched almost all of these films and each of them are a force of art that needs to be recognized to the highest standard.







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Go On (NBC)

It's that time again! Fall TV season means new shows, new faces, and hopefully better story lines. Out of the many series that are premiering this fall, I have the most hope for at least three shows. Go On stars Matthew Perry as a Ryan King, a sportscaster coping with the loss of his wife. The show might stumble and struggle to keep people interested (maybe) but I'm excited to see what it has to offer. And I'm definitely expecting some old FRIENDS to stop by. If you know what I mean. It is premiering tonight at 9/8c tonight! 


Elementary (CBS)

The Mindy Project (FOX)

And then there is Elementary (CBS) and The Mindy Project (FOX). What do these two new fall shows have in common. FUCKING ASS-KICKING ETHNIC WOMEN! I've been waiting for Lucy Liu to make a comeback and not just in Southland but in a show all of her own. Of course she will be sharing the screen with Jonny Lee Miller (Dark Shadows, Trainspotting) as Dr. Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes, respectively. And considering the main character is named Sherlock Holmes, I think we should all know by now what this show is going to entail. ( I HOPE) The mystery solving begins on September 27 10/9c. 

And then there is The Office veteran Mindy Kaling,who at just age of 24 was the first female writer for the mockumentary show. I've also been meaning to read her book "Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me?" which sounds fantastic! Who ever thought that a women of Asian/Middle Eastern descent would be headlining her own show in the year 2012! Surely, it sounds plausible (with the exception of Margaret Cho's All American Girl) but "shockingly", it hasn't happened till today. And I would want no one to lead this revolutionary move than Mindy. After the show was rejected by NBC (bastards!), FOX knew better and quickly snatched it up. Who wouldn't with The Mindy Project being produced by none other than B.J. Novak. Especially with Ed Helms appearing as a love interest in the pilot, it's fucking gold! The show premieres on September 25 9:30/8:30c on FOX! 

Naturally, I'm also going to keep up with my other shows such as How I Met Your Mother (CBS, Sept 24, 8/7c), Community (NBC, Oct 19, 8:30/9:30c), Bob's Burgers (FOX, Sept 30,  8:30/9:30c) and The Simpsons. Although, I haven't been keeping up with The Simpsons, when I read in Entertainment Weekly that Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Zooey Deschanel, Sarah Michelle Geller, and Sarah Silverman was going to be in the season 24 premiere as Bart's old girlfriends, I almost choked on my chocolate cookie and fainted. If that kind of news wasn't shocking enough, Steve Carell, Justin Bieber, Edward Norton are also being featured throughout the season. Talk about a STACKED cast! I can't wait! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! IM BLESSED, THANK YOU TV GODS!
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Outrage
(2010, Takeshi Kitano)

Grade: B+

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