Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

Welcome to another Reject Recap. Can you believe how fast time is flying by this year? It’s already December, and soon it will be the end of the 2012 (and end of the world?). And it’s been a surprisingly busy time for big movie news and rumors. Who can keep up with all the reports and commentary every day? If you haven’t been able to, we invite you to at least check out the highlights down below. First, we must give you the weekly reminder to check out our reviews of the new theatrical releases (Killing Them Softly; The Collection; California Solo; What a Man; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) and interviews with Killing Them Softly director Andrew Dominik and The Day‘s director and cast, including Dominic Monaghan, Ashley Bell and Shawn Ashmore. This week we also looked at promotional artwork for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim and watched trailers for such films as Black Rock and something called Osombie. Now, check out our biggest and best stories and original content from the past week after the break.

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Dark Knight Rises Poster - Gordon-Levitt

For those of you clamoring for a Robin movie after the underwhelming ending of The Dark Knight Rises, your dreams may have just been dashed. However, a new dream may have arrived as its replacement: Joseph Gordin-Levitt as our new Batman. That’s right, boring cop John Blake may takeover as the cape crusader. This news comes as one of first pieces of casting rumors for the upcoming Justice League movie, and while we should never take those rumblings too seriously, Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny seems pretty confident in his exclusive. McWeeny says, according to his sources, Levitt will “absolutely” be playing Batman in the Justice League picture. That’s not all, as Warners Bros. is apparently locking down deals not only with Levitt, but with one other actor from Nolan’s Batman universe. More than likely, it’s Lucius Fox providing the team with gadgetry and such or Alfred to help pick Blake up when he’s down.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Looper. Several hours after seeing Rian Johnson’s Looper, I find the film still rattling in my head. Not because certain moments have resonated with me, nor because the möbius strip sci-fi structure has motivated any existential introspection. Instead, I felt surprisingly conflicted by Looper, perhaps more so than any other film this year. Looper is a film that consists of so many great parts, miles above what most studio genre fare has released this year, yet somehow even the success of these parts didn’t seem to cohere into a resonant whole on the drive home. What stands out the most about Looper is the emotional and thematic import of the film’s time travel plot device. In situating a young man confronting his aged (and changed) self, a middle-aged man attempting to change course in his life through any means possible, and several evident cycles of fate-determining actions shared between characters, Looper connects its investigation of predestination v. free will to a rumination on how our choices directly effect the lives of others in lasting ways. The logic of Looper lays out a vision of life that includes many potential options from which we choose or have chosen for us. Here there is no such thing as fate, only opened and closed opportunities, the implications of which we can’s possibly comprehend in the present moment.

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Now that Looper is a decent hit — especially in China — we can anticipate that people will be discussing the movie around the web, the water cooler and wherever else we talk about movies these days. Much of the conversation will be devoted to the usual with the time travel subgenre: paradoxes, the workings of the time machine, plot holes, why wasn’t Hitler killed, etc. But with this particular story there’s one major point of discussion I’m interested in, and of course it involves spoilers. So, if you’ve seen the movie or are just one of those who don’t care about stuff being ruined, join me after the break as I ask…

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Rian Johnson’s new film, Looper, is a pretty awesome time travel flick, one with as many elements that are clever and original as there are purposefully derivative and influenced. It’s the kind of smart and stylish sci-fi cinema we expect every once in a while on the festival circuit, like Sound of My Voice (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday), rather than from a major Hollywood studio. Looper does fit the indie model, though, since Sony/Tristar picked it up for distribution only after it was done shooting, yet as Brian’s review of the film attests, we can still consider it a good sign for mainstream movies of this genre, and we can hope that Hollywood will see Johnson as the sort of directorial talent they need. But is it the best science fiction film since The Matrix? That’s a question posed in a headline from Time magazine yesterday, though its respective post doesn’t address such a discussion let alone attempt to answer the inquiry. Well, if we exclude superhero movies, animated features (Pixar, Miyazaki and The Iron Giant among them) and the Star Trek reboot, Looper is currently one of only two original studio films of its order to be battling for the status of best reviewed since the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking modern classic. The other is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

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Fantastic Fest: Looper

Joe (the conveniently similarly named Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, and no, sadly, that has nothing whatsoever to do with stunt piloting. What his profession actually entails is the assassination of targets sent back through time by an organized crime syndicate; the only entity to have access to the highly illegal, but totally existing time travel technology. These assassins will inevitably be one day sent the future versions of themselves in a retirement process known as “closing the loop.” Apparently the gold watch and the store-bought sheet cake was simply far too conventional. When Joe is put in a position to close his loop, he commits the fatal sin of hesitation; setting in motion a fight for his own survival as he seeks to kill himself. That sentence could only ever work in relation to Looper.

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Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson is a director you’re going to want to get to know, if you don’t already. He’s one of the more innovative filmmakers around and his previous films, Brick and Brothers Bloom have been triumphs of independent cinema. If nothing else, Brick showed us that there is still life remaining in the otherwise tired convention of film noir and that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was ready to be a leading man in something other than fluff comedy. Johnson’s latest film, Looper, re-teams him with JGL as well as giving him the chance to work with Bruce Willis on what is essentially the biggest movie of his burgeoning career. After seeing Looper at Fantastic Fest, we had a blunderbuss full of questions to fire at Johnson. We were so happy he was able to make time for us.

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Looper

Rian Johnson‘s upcoming Looper is clearly filled with thought-provoking elements, but certainly one of its more interesting aspects has to be the way in which Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are playing the same character, but at different ages. Much ado has been made about the effects work used to make Gordon-Levitt more lantern-jawed and Willis-looking, but not a whole lot has yet been said about how Gordon-Levitt approached his performance. How exactly does one go about trying to play a younger version of a star whose screen presence is as well-defined as Bruce Willis’? i09 caught up with the actor and his director and got some answers on this subject, as well as a few others. When talking about his preparation for the role, Gordon-Levitt said, “I studied him [Willis], and watched his movies, and ripped the audio off of his movies, so I could listen to them on repeat. He even recorded some of my voice-over monologues [from Looper] and sent me that recording, so I could hear what it would sound like in his voice.” That sounds like a good way of studying Willis’ cadence and perfecting the way that he talks, but does that mean Gordon-Levitt’s performance is going to simply be a glorified impersonation?

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Looper

With his third feature film Looper, writer/director Rian Johnson marks the official return of the smart science-fiction film that works to stimulate audiences while making them think. Such a double-layer genre of “style equals substance” sci-fi has been elusive but more than often successful in Hollywood as studios took a leap of faith on projects like Blade Runner, The Matrix, Dark City, Minority Report, and most recently Inception. I can only assume that the film industry insiders who attended the premiere of Looper at the Toronto International Film Festival also leaned towards that same exercise and brought up comparisons of years past to properly qualify their impressions of the film. In doing so, none could be more accurate than Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, the 1995 mind-bending remake of the French cinema classic La Jetée (which also featured Bruce Willis…). Johnson may have been inspired by the closing scene of Gilliam’s opus, where an innocent child watches an older man fall on his knees after being shot by airport security. Other worthy comparisons include some of Brian De Palma’s earlier works (especially The Fury) and the Back to the Future trilogy. Worry not, there is no correlation in tone between Doc Brown’s DeLorean adventures and the central plot elements of Looper. But like Robert Zemeckis, Johnson approaches time travel from the viewpoint of subjective consequence, which remains the most fascinating aspect of this very popular concept. Similarly to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance where Marty’s parents must fall in love, […]

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Austin Cinematic Limits

I have been anxiously awaiting Fantastic Fest 2012 (September 20-27) ever since the carnivalesque tomfoolery of the Fantastic Fest 2011 closing party. Year after year, Tim League and the Fantastic Fest programmers have totally blown me away with their impeccable curating of genre films. And the parties… Oh, the parties! If my liver could talk, the stories it would tell… If history serves, Fantastic Fest 2012 will continue to expand upon its awesomeness, so this year will probably be ten times more amazing than last year’s festival. The announcements that Fantastic Fest has made so far with the first wave and second wave of programming have already solidified the fact that this will be the best damn Fantastic Fest of them all. First off, Tim Burton will be in attendance at the world premiere of Frankenweenie on the opening night of Fantastic Fest 2012. Sure, I have not been a fan of most of his recent work, but that makes him no less of a cinematic genius in my mind. And, while on the subject of this year’s festival guests, I pretty much peed my pants with excitement when I heard that Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be coming to Fantastic Fest with their film Looper. Color me thrilled!

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; training wheels are sexy, dammit. You cycled your way through all the worthwhile content on the Internet, and fifteen minutes later you wound up here. Every week we examine movies so bad, watching them is like riding a bicycle without an overused simile. We kick the tires so hard they go spinning off the frame and irrevocably disrupt the game of ultimate Frisbee going on in the park we’re apparently in for this scenario. But then, just as we’re about to reach the highest gear of snark, we hit the brakes and admit that we’re head-over-handlebars in love with said bad film. To help ease the resulting bloody wounds, we will indulge in a delicious themed snack food item to tide us over until the ambulance arrives. Bikes! As we all know, any films made after  1989 are inherently inferior to the inferior movies of the years prior. However, there are miraculously rare occurrences when inferior movies from the inferior inferior movie era, i.e. right now times, are the type of inferior we find superior. In these instances, the movies playing in the multiplexes actually manage to exemplify the highly low standards we demand from our schlock. This week, one such glorious failure is Premium Rush. Starring that little Chinese girl from 3rd Rock from the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Premium Rush is about a group of people who ride bicycles for a living. No they don’t wear fancy yellow jerseys nor, disappointingly, are they circus […]

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Joseph Gordon Levitt and Michael Shannon in Premium Rush

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a NYC bike messenger, one of the best, and he couldn’t be happier. Sure, it’d be nice if his girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) hadn’t broken up with him, if fellow biker Manny (Wole Parks) wasn’t making moves on that very same ex and if he made better money, but at least he loves his job. The freedom, the feeling of flying down the streets dodging people and cars, the feel of a single-gear bike with no brakes beneath him… he’s living the dream. A late-in-the-day assignment leads Wilee to pick up an envelope from a distraught Nima (Jamie Chung) for delivery to Chinatown in ninety minutes or less. She says it’s important. Her eyes say it’s extremely important. A NYC detective named Robert Monday (Michael Shannon) agrees on its value for completely different and selfish reasons and sets out to retrieve the envelope from Wilee. Cue ninety minutes of chases, competitive pedaling, Triad shenanigans, bikour and ridiculously easy games of Spot the Wilee Stunt Double. (Hint: He’s the one who looks nothing like Gordon-Levitt in the face or in the calves.)

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly thing about stuff, and whatnot. We begin this evening with the most entertaining image I found on the internet today, a mash-up know known as The Tardis DeLorean, it’s the ultimate time travel device. Probably bigger on the inside and definitely not in need of any roads. Come along, Marty!

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises (and other Christopher Nolan films). Christopher Nolan is the first director to make more than two Batman films. In the past, a second Batman film has provided a space for filmmakers to explore their excesses. In the case of Batman Returns, Tim Burton was able to further develop a vision of Gotham as an elaborate fairy tale. Batman & Robin was Joel Schumacher’s venue for exploring Batman as full-blown camp. For Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight manifested a mammoth vision of the summer superhero blockbuster by way of Jules Dassin and Michael Mann, where the Gotham setting gave way to an intricate, sprawling matrix of a metropolis that contains an eternal struggle between order, chaos, and every gray gradation in between. Until Nolan released The Dark Knight Rises, however, a Batman story reaching a third and final act was without precedent in the hero’s manifestations within the moving image. Not only has no previous director articulated a vision of the Caped Crusader in three parts, but no film, serial, or television show has attempted to bring a definitive end to their particular version of the superhero’s arc. The Batman of the moving image is one that largely exists in perpetuity. That Nolan has attempted a completist, closed vision of the Batman universe is relatively anomalous. Despite The Dark Knight Rises’s virtues and shortcomings (and the film has both of these in spades), perhaps the major reason for the film’s comparably […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

With temperatures on the rise and Comic-Con officially over, there is one place comic book fans can still find solace in the middle of these hot summer months – your local movie theaters. Christopher Nolan is poised to complete his epic Batman trilogy with the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, set to hit theaters this weekend. Not only will Christian Bale be returning as Gotham’s caped crusader, he will once again be joined by his trusty butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), his business manager/tech wizard, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and Batman champion, Commission Gordon (Gary Oldman) – to name a few. And in true Nolan fashion, some other faces familiar to the director’s work will help round out this final battle with Inception alums Tom Hardy taking on the villain role as Bane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as hopeful police officer, John Blake. But Nolan’s affinity for working with those he has before does not stop at the cast. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight composer Hans Zimmer (whose score for Inception was one of the most memorable of 2010) returns to finish out the trilogy as well. While most of us will have to wait until this Friday (or for you late-nighters, Thursday at midnight) to see the conclusion of this heroic tale, Zimmer’s score (now available) takes us there now.

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The first look we got at Rian Johnson’s upcoming time travel action yarn, Looper, did a solid job of setting up the story and teasing the action. A curiously lantern-jawed Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing our hero (or, at least, the closest thing we get to one), a hitman for the mob who gets paid handsomely to wait in a field that exists many years in the past, shoot the people the wise guys send back in time as soon as they wink into existence, and then dispose of the body where no future authorities can find them. The wrinkle comes when his latest clean-up job gets sent back in time and a quick locking of the eyes reveals that he’s an equally lantern-jawed version of himself from the future (Bruce Willis). What to do? The new international trailer for the film gives us a bit more of an idea of what is going to be done. Future Gordon-Levitt has come to the past with a plan. And, as you might expect out of a hitman, his plan involves killing someone. Will he be able to set everything right and fix his future, or will his past self – who’s going to be in deep trouble if he doesn’t take his future self out – stop him before he can put his plan in motion? Lots of interesting questions about destiny and how much we can control our future seem to get asked. But, more importantly, everyone involved is shooting guns […]

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Christopher Nolan‘s third and final Batman film hits theaters this summer, and it promises to be huge in pretty much every way. It’s all but guaranteed to be one of the year’s highest grossers, and fans are equally assured to eat it up like Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter. The film opens eight years after Batman (Christian Bale) took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes at the end of The Dark Knight and sees a new master criminal in the form of the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy). He’s forced back into the spotlight to protect the city, but by the looks of things he may not fare that well in his first face-off with the muscular, muffled Bane. Early teasers have underwhelmed some viewers, but WB has just released their final full-length trailer, and it’s loaded with new scenes of action, scale and a real sense of finality. There are some genuine chill-inducing moments here that not even the appearance of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman can ruin. (I still don’t see how her presence here turns out okay. And by ‘her’ I mean both the actress and the character.) Check out the new trailer below.

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The MTV Movie Awards are good for two things: pouring slime on people and premiering footage from highly anticipated, forthcoming movies. Plus, one of those things is done by the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, so you do the math. Fortunately, there’s no difficult math involved in this amazing Dark Knight Rises footage that came as part of the Twilight/Hunger Games worshiping ceremony. It features a difficult conversation between Anne Hathaway‘s Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s policeman surrounded by explosive images, crowded fight scenes, and a dire warning. Check it out for yourself:

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Kevin Bacon has shared many things throughout his career from fancy dance moves to the angle of his dangle, but the most important has to be the revelation made apparent by his long forgotten 1986 film, Quicksilver. What did that movie teach us you ask? Simple… movies about bike messengers are incredibly boring. Hollywood heeded that warning for twenty-six long years, but now the writer/director of Ricky Gervais’ Ghost Town thinks he’s figured out how to make bike messengers relevant and interesting again. The secret appears to be a combination of Michael Shannon and bicycle parkour (or bikour if your prefer). Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the unfortunately named Wilee, a bike messenger in Manhattan whose latest assignment finds him pursued by a corrupt cop (Shannon) who won’t rest until he gets his hands on Wilee’s package. Check out the trailer for David Koepp’s Premium Rush starring Gordon-Levitt, Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung below.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt Dark Knight Rises

As if the headline weren’t enough, here’s another spoiler alert to ensure that if you don’t want to know about a major character spoiler in The Dark Knight Rises, you don’t have to. Earlier this month, John Gholson wrote an excellent article over at Movies.com opining in detail about one of the characters in The Dark Knight Rises. It was the kind of guess that could be a spoiler considering the source and the research involved. And now, a toy from the Christopher Nolan‘s movie is all but confirming that the guess was true.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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