A discussion was started on my Facebook page about a couple of movies: Looper and Beasts of the Southern Wild—two very different movies. Feeling my remarks would be too long to leave in a comment on Facebook, I decided to write a blog post instead.
This is a book DISCUSSION, not a review, so expect SPOILERS.
I’m going divide this up into two posts for easier reading.
And, sorry for the long-windedness of the post, and sorry for all the different tangents—but, as the song lyrics go: It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.
I’ll start with Looper:
The premise of the movie is this: In the future, a mob-like gang uses illegal time travel to kill their “hits” and rid themselves of the bodies—all bodies can be tracked in the future but sending them back in time wipes out all traces. Eventually, something goes wrong, as things do, and the loopers—those hired to kill the unfortunate people—are forced to kill their future selves. Closing the loop, so to speak.
Here’s what I liked about the movie: The actor who played the young Bruce Willis did a great job recreating Willis’ mannerisms. That impressed me. Also, I like Bruce Willis and Emily What’s-her-name (the English actress, she does a marvelous American accent). I like the overall premises of the movie, but the science part of it…well, it isn’t very scientific.
So, here’s the parts I didn’t like so much:
Don’t get me wrong, I CAN and DO and WILLINGLY suspend my disbelief. It’s part of the enjoyment of a book, movie, play…whatever. If you don’t have to suspend your disbelief a little when partaking in a work of fiction, then why bother. But this movie just had too many moments of disbelief, and I went into suspension overload. I won’t go into lots of detail (there are way too many examples) but just know this had to do with the “rules” of time travel. The idea that a future-self wouldn’t remember the history of the present-self (the writer did try to interjected a work-around for this, probably knowing what a big plot hole it was) is just beyond my comprehension.
Here’s what really irks me, I think. The current popular thing for moviemakers and writers is to give their audience a (seemingly) complex and bizarre plot—a mind-blowing intrigue where the audience is never quite sure what’s happening. Take Inception as an example, the audience is left wondering which scenes are real and which are dreams. This example happened to work well, perhaps because the writers had a firm grasp of the plot beforehand. THEY knew what was what, even if we were never quite sure.
But here’s an example of one that didn’t work—the TV series Lost. The writers even ADMITTED they didn’t have any idea where the plot was going. Seat-of-the-pants writers might not find this disturbing—those souls who can write with no idea where the words will take them—but I’m not one of them. I, at least, have to have an idea what the overall theme of my work is. I usually have to know the ending, even if I don’t know how I’m going to get there. In the case of Lost, if you have a plane crash on a strange island and the survivors start to hear horrifying scary monster sounds coming from the forest, wouldn’t you, as a writer, have an idea what that monster was? Apparently, this wasn’t a consideration for the screenwriters of this series. They’d figure it out as they went along. Fiddlesticks, I say. I stopped watching midway through the first season.
Basically, I didn’t enjoy Looper because the writer didn’t work hard enough to enabling me to suspend my disbelief. It felt insulting. It’s as if the writer said, “I’ve got this idea: a man in the present is forced to kill his future self” and there wasn’t a plot hole big enough for him to stop and think twice.
Then there was the child killing. The reason the loopers have to kill their future selves is because a madman, the “Rainmaker” (I think that was the name) has taken over the syndicate and, for his own diabolical reasons, wants to eliminate all the loopers. The future-self character (Bruce Wills) evades being killed by his present-self and discovers the Rainmaker is a young boy in the present. (Are you following me?) He (Willis) has a series of numbers that lead him to three potential kids. He doesn’t have time to determine which one is the real Rainmaker, so he has to kill all three. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
And now I’ll get a little political. Let me state that I don’t own a gun. I do enjoy skeet shooting and my family has a long history with guns. My grandfather and uncle were sheriffs, so there was always a holster hanging on the hat rack when I went to visit. And, believe me, if we would have touched it, my grandmother would have beaten us silly with a broom! There was a gun rack on the wall of the living room. But, my grandparents lived in a rural area and used the guns to hunt for food. I once watched my grandfather shot a copperhead dangling from tree—right in the path of the open-roofed Jeep I was sitting in. Could he have done something else? Maybe he could have gotten a long tree limb and tried to scoop it out of the way, but since the car shed was next to the tree, I think he probably made the right choice. But I digress…
I will keep my point simple: I believe the laws we have regarding guns need to be more strictly enforced. I don’t believe any citizen needs a gun that shoots hundreds of rounds per minute. Yet, I don’t believe gun control is the ONLY answer to our “shooter” problem—the idea that (mostly) young, mentally unstable (mostly) boys have turned so violent. I believe we need better mental health care. I believe we need to stop letting pharmaceutical companies sell mental health medicines that haven’t been fully tested and can cause more problems than they help. I believe we need a shift in our society—which isn’t something you can legislate. And I believe, just as I put responsibility on gun makers/sellers/owners, pharmaceutical companies, doctors, social workers, and family members, that Hollywood needs to stop putting so much emphasis on guns in movies—on blood and guts and gore, just for the sake of blood and guts and gore.
Do I approve of censorship? No. It isn’t all Hollywood’s responsibility. We, the consumer, need to stop giving them the incentive by buying their products. If they build it, and we don’t come, they will build something else. Parents need to PARENT! We have become a nation desensitized to violence just for the sake of violence. In the movies and on TV, we watch peoples heads being blown off and don’t bat an eye. In real life, when kids beat and kick a kid when he’s down, and he dies and they are shocked by it, where do you think they got the idea that such actions weren’t deadly? In the movies, the good guy always takes a licking but keeps on ticking—and sometimes even the bad guy.
It’s a very complicated issue. But I find it’s ironic the same industry putting out ads for strict gun control has so many guns in their films. And, if guns are banned in the future, how will they justify (or have us suspend our disbelief) having guns so omnipresent in their films? If they do, then it proves they don’t believe their own talking points—that gun control will get guns out of the hands of bad people.
Looper brought the hypocrisy of Hollywood to the forefront. If the Newtown tragedy was really a “game changer,” if it really was as horrific to them as they claim in their ads, if it really is “time” to do something meaningful, then they would do THEIR part—however large or small—to help lessen the occurrences. Why put out a movie with guns, guts, and gore, AND child killing, and so soon after this tragedy? Can’t they/we do better?
Yeah, I’m probably overreacting a little (or a lot)—but isn’t that the point? Hollywood ads regarding this issue intimate we all NEED to overreact—and rightly so.
Yes, to gun control legislation. Yes, to Hollywood putting up, or shutting up.
(P.S. I usually don’t get political. And, this, to me, isn’t political, just a personal opinion/reaction.)