THE PAPERBOY–OMG. This is the darkest thing I’ve seen in years. I’m calling it “swamp noir.” Written and directed by Lee Daniels who gave us the acclaimed PRECIOUS, THE PAPERBOY gets even murkier. The film held me in its terrible grip for more than two hours. Evocatively shot and compellingly told, THE PAPERBOY features an A-list cast like you’ve never seen them before.
Matthew McConaughey plays reporter Ward Jansen with a greasy mullet and a secret, who goes back home to a Florida backwater to investigate a murder. John Cusack plays the convicted slimeball he’s investigating, Hillary van Wetter, a cesspool of a human being. Nicole Kidman is Charlotte the trashy blonde who’s fallen in love with the inmate through correspondence. Their first meeting– and they never so much as touch– is a spectacle of depraved sexual ingenuity that left Zac Efron’s character, young brother Jack– vomiting, and me aghast. There are at least two more scenes that mine related territory.
The PAPERBOY out-delivers DELIVERANCE, out-apes WINTER’S BONE for sheer inbred skeeviness, and puts THE HELP on notice. Stunningly narrated by the housekeeper played by singer Macy Gray with the same offbeat vocal rhythms she brings to her music, Gray conveys an almost incestuous relationship to this southern family; she has a close eye on these white folks, and serves up a stew as thick and dangerous as an alligator infested bog. As lurid as the plot gets–we believe every word out of her mouth. See THE PAPERBOY before it disappears from theaters. It’s not a good time– but it’s a good film.
LOOPER– Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a “looper,” a hired gun employed by criminals to assassinate future enemies in the past. Don’t think too much about this; the film warns us over and over again that these time travel capers always have a loop hole somewhere that can’t quite be closed. All we have to accept here is that Bruce Willis plays the future Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Levitt’s character has been hired to kill him. (They fatten Gordon-Levitt’s nose to look more like Willis in profile.)
The premise is more interesting than anything that evolves from it. What’s disturbing is the violence which crosses a certain line with a nonchalance that creeps up on you, and just makes you feel bad later. Emily Blunt plays “the woman” who brings love and family into the picture; the solution is staring everyone in the face, except for the looper who leaves his decision to the last inescapable moment. I left sad and underwhelmed.
PITCH PERFECT—There’s one reason to see this movie. Not the singing– not enough of it, though Anna Kendrick has a surprisingly good voice! Not the plot which involves a regurgitating singer and a competition that never comes to a pitch. No. See it for Rebel Wilson–an Australian stand up comic who plays the cheerily deadpan “Fat Amy.” She’s even more hilarious on the talk show circuit. Can’t wait to see what she does next!