Sunday, October 21, 2012


Rian Johnson's new film, Looper, tells a story that you've never heard before. In the near future, time-travel becomes crudely possible - and highly illegal. Mobs use time-travel to send their victims into the past to be executed and disposed of. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) plays one of these mob hit-men known as "loopers." When he fails to kill the future version of himself (played by Bruce Willis) they're both wanted for dead.

If that first paragraph was a little confusing, don't worry: the film explains it much better than I do, though time-travel stories can give some viewers headaches. The plot is filled with interesting and well-developed characters. Johnson's vision of the future seems very plausible which helps keep the movie relatable. The special effects were used intelligently, the most notable of which was making Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like a young Bruce Willis.

The acting from both leads is great, but the most stunning performance comes from Pierce Gagnon, a child actor with surprisingly impressive skills. He was able to flawlessly go from innocent and cute to dark and mature.

Writer/director Rian Johnson used this film to combine mob and sci-fi genres, taking the best from both styles. This film asks the question, "What means the most to you and what would you do for it?" The characters all have their own answers which are often passionate, unexpected, and explosive. Looper is one of the most original films I've seen in awhile and definitely one of my favorites so far this year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grouplove @ The Pageant

Photo courtesy of Adrienne Franke.
English band Alt-J opened up the evening of 10/7. The group had a unique sound that blended genres. It felt like the singer/guitarist was in a folk band while the other three members were in more of a dance and electronica mood. Surprisingly, this fused naturally into something that was equally beautiful and danceable. Their drummer had a very tight, precise style that made him a human drum machine. "Tessellate" sounded particularly great.

Grouplove started with "Itchin' on a Photograph." With only an album and an EP to their name, the American band played through almost all of their recorded material throughout the set. Although they're by no means the most ground-breaking band, their simple pop-rock songs were catchy, blissful, and even uplifting. I would argue that everyone in the room was having a good time. How can you not smile when you hear songs like "Naked Kids" or "Lovely Cup"? Their lyrics aren't political or angry, they're about youth and having a good time. Sometimes that's all we need to hear about.

About halfway through the show, bass player Sean Gadd interrupted the song "Chloe" after a few chords. It was drummer Ryan Rabin's birthday. The audience sang "Happy Birthday" to him and Alt-J came out holding a cake with lit candles. Audience participation can sometimes be obnoxious, but this was cool and it made the show a little more special.

This concert was not a life-changing experience, but it was a genuine evening of entertainment with great friends. Never Trust A Happy Song is out now on Atlantic Records.