22 Sep 2013: Looper (DVD, 2012, Rian Johnson)

Back in Depeche Mode’s day people may have been people, but nowadays – if cinematic character is any indication – people are semiotic commercial models designed to appeal to as broad a market as possible while undergoing the mechanical manipulations of a plot. Hard-boiled monotone narration #4824 here primes viewer reception of the main character (name forgotten) as a ready-made trope from the get-go, and so it proceeds with all the others – the loving, doomed Chinese wife, the angry telekinesis-endowed brat boy, the young drug-addicted hired-killer sociopath – hardly sparing a moment or a piece of dialogue to construct any person as a breathing being save for specific ad hoc functionality. BYOB, maybe, is the way to conceptualize filmgoing now (see also Oblivion, Inception, Upstream Color) with “backstory” in place of beer – paper containers will be provided, these designed of course to be thrown away as soon as you leave. Time-travel as a subject, even if a peripheral one, is bound to stir up interesting thoughts – imagining, for instance, that every occurrence of painful memory temporally coincides with a past version of oneself making the wrong choice in a kind of parallel with the present – but these are not explored in any depth; the focus is on a familiar melodrama of revenge and making choices, which lets all speculations and expansions away from the mere events at hand fizzle out rapidly, both during and after the movie.

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