RIAN JOHNSON OPENS THE LOOP

October 4, 2012

SORRY FOLKS, HULK’S BEEN TRAVELLING AND HASN’T HAD TIME TO GET THIS UP ON WORDPRESS! IT’S AN ARTICLE THAT HULK HAS BEEN BEYOND EXCITED ABOUT FOR QUITE SOME TIME.

BACK IN JULY, HULK WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE A BIT OF AN “EMBEDDED REPORTER” OF SORTS WITH RIAN JOHNSON AND THE LOOPER GANG AS THEY SPENT TWO DAYS AT COMIC-CON PROMOTING THE FILM. THE ARTICLE THAT CAME OUT OF THAT EXPERIENCE IS A BIT…. BIGGER THAN ANTICIPATED. AS IN 27 THOUSAND WORDS BIG. BUT THE EVENTS OF THOSE TWO DAYS SIMPLY PROVIDED A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR NOT ONLY DELVING INTO RIAN’S CAREER AND THE MANY WONDERFUL PEOPLE INVOLVED, BUT ALSO TO HAVE A REAL MEDITATION ON THE PROCESS OF PROMOTION, FILMMAKING AND THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY ITSELF.

AND THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO LOOPER SPOILERS!

… OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THE FILM IS INCREDIBLE.

ENJOY!

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7 Responses to “RIAN JOHNSON OPENS THE LOOP”

  1. Rachel said

    Hey, Hulk. Rachel here. I need some help in focusing a point in your column on Rian Johnson. You say:

    “BEYOND THE FACT THAT HIS MOVIES ARE GOOD ON THE INDEPENDENT MERITS FOR WHICH WE JUDGE CINEMA, THERE IS A NEW GENERATION OF FILMMAKERS OUT THERE WHO SEEM TO BE EMBRACING WHAT HULK LIKES TO CALL “CINEMATIC AMPLIFICATION.” EDGAR WRIGHT IS SORT OF THE KING OF THE STYLE, JOSEPH KAHN USES IT QUITE NICELY IN DETENTION, AND TARANTINO USES IT TO A CERTAIN EXTENT (BUT USUALLY WITHIN HIS OWN “MOVIE WORLDS”). WHAT THE TERMS MEANS IS THAT THESE FILMMAKERS USE THE UBER-SPECIFIC CINEMATIC LANGUAGE OF GENRE CONVENTIONS NOT TO DIRECTLY REFERENCE SAID CONVENTIONS THEMSELVES (THOUGH SOMETIMES THEY DO), BUT REALLY TO JUST INFORM OR HEIGHTEN THE AFFECTATION OF THE STORY. MEANING THEY ARE SIMPLY USING THIS VERY SPECIFIC CINEMA LANGUAGE TO “AMPLIFY” WHATEVER EMOTIONS AND STORY IS GOING ON IN THE SCENE.”

    I want to broach this using a very specific example. In Shaun of the dead, when Ed says that “Dogs can’t look up,” is this what you are referring to? It seems like an utterly silly idea, but this movie is based upon such a similar, but inverted idea (DEAD WALKING THE STREETS!). It’s as if the filmmakers are lampshading the conventions they are using in order to heighten their sense of reality. In this case, dogs obviously can look up while bodies reanimate after death. In other words, are we, as an audience, taking in the absurdity of this one idea, and in doing so amplifying the power of this other idea which is much more ridiculous? Can we say that the sudden insanity of the world Shaun and Ed find themselves in is detailed by the obviously ridiculousness of their views on canine anatomy? Is that what you mean when you say these filmmakers “INFORM OR HEIGHTEN THE AFFECTATION OF THE STORY?”

  2. Rachel said

    I want to follow this^ up by informing you that I’ve written a half-dozen fully fleshed responses to minute details in your article. I wrote them, defined both by hardship and ease, because you seem to be able to hit all the important parts of making film. And each time I make a simple response to one of these points, I find myself forced to reconsider exactly what it is I want to say to you. Every message I try to convey is precise and detailed. You describe in somebody else’s work exactly the things I see in myself. That right there is the joy of filmmaking. This amazing idea of interconnecting character based upon simple elements of self. And I see this in every avenue I try and understand. It is overwhelming on a very fundamental level. It makes me wonder how I can better describe and define the world around me. How I can be more than “Joe,” and instead be the person who grew from the child fundamentally affected by Joe. That is what I want. I am humbled on every level by how people describe my effect on their world. But that isn’t what is truly important to me. What is important to me is how they define their own lives. I want to inform their existence. Not define it. This, I think, may be the underlying message presented in Looper.

  3. Rachel said

    And why you found kindred spirits in the Cousins Johnson.

  4. I loved the line where Jeff Daniels says “The movies you’re copying are just copying other movies.” I wonder if that was meant as a comment on our franchise-based Hollywood landscape or something more specific on the movies that may have influenced Looper and its characters, the namesake of Kid Blue being the easiest example.

    I also wanted to point out that JGL made and excellent grown up version of the chubby boy from The Kid.

  5. Matthew Wilson said

    I predict that “complaining about articles being split over 14 pages” will be the new “complaining about everything being in upper case”.

  6. Panache said

    Any chance at a second entry for other comments? There are a few points to discuss for which it is requisite to “spoil” the ever-loving shit out of “Looper”. All without a single mention of any “plot hole”!

  7. marbled said

    Hi Hulk, amazing article as ever but I was wondering if you’re planning to do a Smash article on Looper as well? I came out of it impressed by the performances and technical skill but found it emotionally unengaging and felt that it was actually quite an inconsistent film perhaps not deserving of all the acclaim that it’s getting, so would love to see what you thought in more depth.

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