Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Looper

Weekend Links – 3

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Previous links from the weekend here and here.

* Stephen Colbert will have a camero in The Hobbit. My guess is “random person in Lake-Town,” but who knows?

* Democrats giving up hope in my beloved North Carolina.

* John Clute reviews the latest Culture novel, The Hydrogen Sonata.

* Scenes from the future: scientists successfully predict content of dreams from EEG recordings. I think we should probably just pull the plug on this line of investigation right now.

* October Surprise! U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks.

* October Anti-Surprise! How Mitt Romney’s Latest Attack On Libya Is Falling Apart. See also and also.

* If you haven’t gotten enough Looper after Adam and I explained the whole thing, there’s a director’s commentary you can take with you into the theater.

* My friend Dan is teaching the course on David Foster Wallace I’ve been dying to teach.

* And remember, Community fans: October 19th is just a state of mind. (Though, alas, only Dan Harmon can save us from Chevy Chase now.)

Diagramming Timelines with Straws (Time Travel in ‘Looper’)

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Removing my professor’s tam and applying my fanboy’s prosthetic forehead for just a moment, I haven’t seen anyone clearly state how time travel and the iteration of timelines works in Looper. Here it is, as best that I can tell:

Loop 0: The original timeline, in which time travel is invented in the future, at which point someone or something is sent back into the past for the first time.

Loop 1: The new timeline caused by the appearance of the new object or individual.

Loop x-3: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is recruited as a looper and murders a bunch of people, eventually leaving the business and growing up to become Bruce Willis. Thirty years in the future, he is captured by gangsters, bound, gagged, hooded, and sent back in time to be assassinated by his younger self.

Loop x-2: This is the timeline we see in flashbacks to in the movie, in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt murders a bound-and-gagged version of older self immediately after Bruce Willis arrives back in time. Afterwards, he moves to China, gets married, and is eventually captured by gangsters to be sent back in time and murdered by his younger self. However, he overpowers them on the platform, and enters the time machine unbound, ungagged, and unhooded. He then overpowers his younger self and escapes. Some unknown series of events culminates in the standoff in the cornfield, in which the young Rainmaker is shot in the mouth before seeing his mother murdered before his eyes.

Loop x-1: This is the confusing part. This is the timeline that the Bruce Willis we see for most or all of the movie actually comes from. We know this because he has memories of the Rainmaker from the future that include rumors that the Rainmaker has a synthetic jaw and saw his mother murdered before his eyes as a child. These events can only have happened in a version of the loop after the unbound Bruce Willis has escaped Joseph Gordon-Levitt. So there has to be at least one intervening loop between the flashback loop (designated x-2) and this one (designated x-1), despite the somewhat confusing way the movie presents this.

Loop x:This is the main timeline we see in the movie.

Thank you for your time, and I’m looking forward to taking your questions.

Monday Links

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* Welcome to the future: Another grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild.

* Whiteness and Breaking Bad: America isn’t flooded with pure meth, and it’s not because our chemists are too ethical. The illegal drug market simply doesn’t reward peerless expertise in the same way celebrity cooking shows do.

The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican, to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D marine playing alien in Avatar or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.

* Paging Kim Stanley Robinson: NASA seems to have violated its own Prime Directive by failing to consult its Planetary Protection Officer on the Curiosity mission.

Teachers are striking in Chicago. Meanwhile: How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party. Thank goodness Obama’s winning, so he can finally crush the teachers’ unions once and for all!

* Solitary confinement in schools? Jesus Christ.

* Richard Posner is making sense: The notion of using the criminal law as the primary means of dealing with a problem of addiction, of misuse, of ingesting dangerous drugs — I don’t think that’s sensible at all.

* Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loan Roundup.

“I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represent — for our industry,” the consultant, Jerry Ashton, wrote in a column for a trade publication, InsideARM.com. “It was lip-smacking.”

Meanwhile, America’s defaulted student loans total more than yearly tuition at public colleges.

* Star Trek 2 has a title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Early returns: Pretty terrible! Star Wars on Poverty. Lord of the Rings That Bell.

* James Cameron always envisioned Avatar as 19 films.

I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.

But what happened before that? And before that? And…

* The director of Looper has a metaphor for a model of time travel logic I don’t think I’ve seen before: the universe as a body with an immune system that seeks to push out foreign objects.

The problem isn’t that this is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life; the problem is that it’s seven of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life glued together haphazardly, their inexorable badness amplified by their awkward juxtaposition. Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski wanted to make a movie unlike any other, and they certainly did: Cloud Atlas is a unique and totally unparalleled disaster.

*  Study: There is enough wind on this planet to meet our entire energy needs.

* Tressie McMillan Cottom reviews the captivating documentary The Queen of Versailles, which I caught at the local independent movie house this weekend. It’s quite good—a stunning portrait of the wealthy’s perspective of the “normal” workings of the economy and of the 2008-2009 economic collapse.

* And when polls fail: Do 15% of Ohio Republicans really think Romney killed bin Laden? Probably not.