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I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week, regarding the
lack of effort being put into films these days. In the 21st century,
there are very few films worth seeing, in comparison to the earlier
80's, and 90's. Back then, there weren't 100's of movies being churned
out a week, with only 1 or 2 being even half decent. This is the reason
that this movie took me entirely by surprise.
The movie is centered around Chris Pratt ( Josepth Gordon-Levitt), a partially handicapped man, in his earlier 20's. Chris used to live a great life, have great friends, and amazing talent on the ice. Now, after a car accident that changed his life, he suffers from slight mental handicaps, although they are prominently random, and don't have a major effect on the movie. Chris is still recovering from his car crash, and trying to move up in his job. He works at "Noah's Central Bank" as a Janitor, but has been pushing to be a teller for ages. Desperate for companions, Chris jumps at the first person to befriend him, and slowly falls into the wrong crowd. As Chris gets deeper and deeper in with his group of friends, he's pressured to help them with a robbery. Only catch: The heist is taking place at his bank.
Although the movie seems pretty straightforward, the plot can be deceiving. First of all, if you are going to this movie expecting a movie based solely around a bank heist ( a la Inside Man), go to blockbusters and rent "Dog Day Afternoon". This movie focuses, for the most part, around Chris, and his decent from an innocent, hard working Janitor, to a confused, misled, and frustrated individual. Although not of the same Hollywood callibur as movies such as Inside Man, it is still easily worth the ticket. Which brings me to my next point.
After seeing this movie, I felt refreshed. I went into a movie, expecting explosions, poor dialogue, and close ups of bodies being blown away. I couldn't of been farther off. This movie veers away from Hollywood, and it pulls it off miraculously. The dialogue is crisp, the violence existing, but not overused, and the characters deep. I may only be so impressed by this movie because of what I was expecting, but I none the less recommend it to anyone willing to actually think during a movie, rather than watch a bunch of cars blow up.
This is incredibly entertaining and solid piece of film making, by
Scott Frank. The film travels on a road that its laid out for the
audience to see steps ahead, but that never matters, b/c you are
constantly in suspense over what will happen to the incredibly well
drawn characters in the film. Frank also shows tons of directorial
flair to accompany his writing prowess. The whole cast was amazing,
Matthew Goode is completely unrecognizable and is perfect in the film.
Jeff Daniels again dons a Beard and steals his scenes, every line of
his dialog either makes you laugh, think or just compels the movie
forward, and Joseph Gordon Levitt again proves why he is capable of
being one of the next great movie stars. Go see this movie and tell
your friends to do the same.
This is the kind of film Hollywood should be making,
When you look at Scott Frank's writing credits --especially "Minority
Report" and "Out Of Sight"-- it is really no surprise that this is an
unusually smart and entertaining crime drama.
It is an "adult movie" in the best sense of that term.
This is a beautifully bleak looking movie where all the color is in the characters and their behavior. The acting is top notch. I've never seen this Levitt kid before, but he captures emotional and intellectual numbness with a finesse I haven't seen since Guy Pierce's work in "Memento". It is a tough role and he hits it out of the park. Jeff Daniels is Oscar-worthy as his best friend and Matthew Goode plays a guy who you know sheds more than one skin each year. Isla Fisher is a welcome ray of sunlight in this dark tale.
It is the anti-"300" (which I liked a lot). This movie really sneaks up on you, it doesn't bludgeon you but before you know it you are totally spellbound by it.
I'll be looking forward to the next movie directed (and written) by Scott Frank.
So you want a good heist film? See Dog Day Afternoon, as tense a study
in botched robbery and kidnapping to come out of the '70's as any.
Don't think the sweet Lookout will carry the same tension because it so
heavily relies on the character exposition of its protagonist, Chris
(Joseph Gordon-Levitt), that the heist is just an artful ending to an
absorbing study of depression and rehabilitation.
Chris, a rock-star hockey player in high school, terminates that celebrity with a reckless accident that leaves him impaired emotionally and physically. So he's easy prey for a gang that entices him to help them rob a rural Kansas bank, where he is a janitor. Up to the point of the gang contacting him, Chris tries heroically to perform actions in a logical sequence. But even his family, especially his father, is impatient with his arrested development, although they are generous in financially supporting him as he goes on the mend.
Writer/director Scott Frank rarely lets Chris out of the frame, to good effect, because the actor and his lamentable past draw us into his narrow world in sympathy but not pity. Chris is determined to arrange his life in a sequence, with the help of his notebook and roomie, a blind and perceptive, bearded, guitar-playing Jeff Daniels, whose lines provide humor and balancing perspective as Chris slips into the heist. Both actors exude realistic, humorous, world weary personas that perfectly reveal the ambivalence Chris brings to this life-defining crime.
The Lookout is a small film, released at dumping time right after the Oscars, but an invigorating study of humans under stress. It begs all of us to "lookout" where we are going, either on a lonely road with our lights turned off or in a plan to steal from farmers who have made life possible.
The Lookout was an amazing movie with splendid performances all around.
It's hard to believe that Joseph Gordon Levitt was once on "3rd Rock
From The Sun". He's come along way.
After a horrible accident which killed two people, seriously wounded another, and left Chris Pratt (Levitt) with a brain injury which makes it nearly impossible for him to remember things without writing them down in a notebook that he carries with him, he is no longer the cocky hockey player. Instead he now lives his life while working as a janitor in a bank and living with a blind roommate named Lewis (Jeff Daniels in a fascinating performance).
While drinking at a bar, he meets the charismatic Gary Spargo (played by Matthew Goode) who then introduces Chris to the lovely Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fischer.) They later asked him to serve as lookout while they rob the bank he works at. Chris at first doesn't agree, but Gary plays the other people in Chris' life against him in subtle ways, and after Chris finds out that some of what Gary said seems true, he agrees. The story goes on from there, but I will not even discuss the ending.
The lookout is a strong movie, and it is the phenomenal acting which holds the movie together the best. Scott Frank has a way of getting the best out of his actors here, and what we get is a psychological drama that holds your interest. At a brisk 99 minutes, it seemed over much too quickly. Some of the later scenes in the movie felt a little contrived I agree, but even they pale in comparison to the welcoming acting where even the main villain (Goode) doesn't seem totally utterly evil. Of course I can't say the same thing about his quiet henchman with the glasses.
I liked this movie a lot, but I do wish we could've gotten to know more about Luvlee Lemons. Her character seem to be pushed out later in the movie, and I found myself a little disappointed in this. Still, overall this was a very good movie.
What was interesting about going to see The Lookout, for me, was the
uncertainty with Scott Frank, the screenwriter who makes his
directorial debut here. It would be one thing if he were a screenwriter
whose work I've seen was all original. If his previous screenplays had
been great original works, I'd be absolutely sure that he'd be a great
director, but because the only films he's written that I've seen have
been adaptations of Elmore Leonard novels and a Philip K. Dick story,
it was not only the first time I'd see his direction by also the first
time I'd experience his own story.
I found that the script was great. I enjoy heist films possibly more than any other genre, and even though the heist itself is not so intricate and clever the way I prefer them the premise that sets up the gimmick used in the heist is quite clever. Really though, the film is not about the heist at all. It's about a very young person whose life is now completely different because of a car wreck that was all his fault. He has short term memory loss and deals with its shortcomings accompanied by horrible feelings of guilt for the deaths of his two friends and the maiming of his girlfriend. The movie at times seems a little uneven, because the makings of a thriller are intercut estrangedly with the makings of a slice-of-life drama. But both sides of the story work and it's generally fulfilling despite not being so tightly done. The movie is, upon reflection, reminiscent of realist films from the 1970s in its story and directorial style.
The cinematography and editing are adequate, yet strangely, in many scenes, particularly those that take place at the main character's family's home and those that takes place at the bank, have great atmosphere, a coziness.
What I admire about the movie is that it avoids clichés that seem on the very brink of being outrageous displays of them. For instance, there is the friendly airhead patrol cop that stops off at the bank every night to check up on things, bringing doughnuts and all, and we feel as if we know what will happen with him, and even now, one can't truly say it was or wasn't expected. The almost unbearably riveting climax, for instance, is for heist movie fans, a near-cliché, but wraps up with a fresh and new take on what we would expect. The characters are all inventive actually, and quite realistic.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a very young face without a name, will perhaps have a name now due to his deep, impressive performance in the title role. Jeff Daniels, however, has reached the point in his career where he steals every scene he is in, a la Michael Caine or Al Pacino, playing the sagacious and outgoing friend. Matthew Goode, playing the lead villain, is also a major plus for the cast. Leave it to an English actor to portray the villain with such a whispering convincing disposition that even we almost like him at first even though we are in on his scheme from the beginning. Greg Dunham, who plays another would-be cliché, the stoic sunglassed killer of only about five words in his vocabulary, avoids clichehood by somehow drawing such intense hatred from the audience that we are spared nothing by his cold and ruthless behavior.
In 2003, in Kansas, the popular and reckless high school hockey player
Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes to a party with his girlfriend
and two friends on the backseat of his convertible through the old
Route 24. In a moment, he turns the headlights off to admire the bright
sky and has a tragic car crash. Four years later, his head injury still
affects his memories and he uses a notebook to help him to recall his
activities. He is no longer admired and works as night janitor in the
Noel State Bank & Trust due to his mental incapacitation. He lives with
his only friend, the blind Lewis (Jeff Daniels) that he met while
recovering in a medical center, and helps him in the daily activities.
When he meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) in a bar, he is introduced to
the sexy Luvlee (Isla Fisher) and has sex with her after a long period
of abstinence. Chris gets closer to Gary, and sooner he is invited to
help his gang to rob the Noel Bank. Chris is upset with his lifestyle
and sees the chance to change his life, convinced that whoever has the
money has the power.
"The Lookout" is an excellent dramatic thriller, in spite of the common theme "bank heist. The screenplay builds perfectly the lead character Christopher Pratt from a successful and promising teenager to a frustrated mentally incapacitated and with remorse and guilty complex young man, with a total lack of professional perspectives and no-longer successful with women. The result is quite predictable, but the way the plot is disclose is amazing. The resemblance of the talented actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt with the recently deceased Heath Ledger is impressive. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): Not Available
This quiet, understated drama-thriller may take a while to get going,
but the characters are fascinating and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff
Daniels have a wonderful chemistry that lends the film an unexpected
heart. As a brain-damaged student and a blind wannabe entrepreneur
respectively, their relationship is very sweet and would probably work
well in a buddy comedy.
There's a neat Fargo-like quality to a lot of the characters and dialogue and while it covers few locations it has that convincing small town feel.
Gordon-Levitt is a night janitor at a local bank who's targeted by a gang and finessed into acting as a lookout while they rob it. Things - as they must - go wrong and he has to summon all the faculties of his fractured mind to save himself.
Isla Fisher is quite revelatory in her small role. As Luvlee she's either rather dim-witted or incredibly cunning. Fisher's performance hints at the deeper recesses of her character but doesn't reveal what they hide. Luvlee is one of those rare characters where you find yourself genuinely hoping they won't turn out to be something other than what they appear. Ultimately there's something curiously redemptive about Gordon-Levitt's journey, where there really shouldn't be. It's a testament to the quality of his performance.
Overall a satisfying drama with sustained tension and some fine performances.
This is one of those slightly odd-ball heist movies which manages to
carry off the down beat vibe and still be more-or-less convincing.
Think of it as a Fargo-lite. Gordon-Lovett, following on from his
excellent turn in "Brick",plays a College Ice Hockey star player, whose
reckless "gift" to his girlfriend ends with her maimed and two other
friends dead. Four years on, he is partially brain-damaged, confused
and a self-loathing young man, going to "special needs" class to help
deal with day-to-day tasks. No longer functioning as he was, he
maintains a part-time janitor job at night in a small town bank. The
nearest he gets to his dream ice hockey career now is using the mop as
his stick and some urinal disinfectant blocks as pucks; shooting them
into the waste bin. If he thought he had problems now; just wait until
his new found "friend" reveals why everything in his life is starting
to look up.... This has that mix of oddness that works for the most
part, such as Gordon-Lovett's dependence on his a blind friend and
flat-mate; played really well by Jeff Daniels. The main bad guy has
value, although the femme fatale, played by Isla Fisher is probably too
good to be true- and her character arc is left open-ended.
Roped and corralled into helping to rob his bank, he starts to sense all in not right-but its too late to back out now.............
All in all, I really enjoyed this until the top-and-tail ending. In a few narrated scenes at the end, the writer conspires to undo a lot of the hard work. The writers pen is dropped for a broad stroke "rainbow" paintbrush , resolving a lot of issues quite flippantly and totally ignores others. Perhaps the director should have got a re-write, but as he and the writer are one and the same, this was not to be!
Still, it was a good character driven piece of film-making overall and Gordon-Lovett is one to watch. He also bears a striking resemblance to Heath Ledger both in appearance, as well as ability.
As much as I wanted to like this film, once I watched it, I was quite disappointed. The premise of how a teenager suffering from brain trauma inflicted because of his own unaware rashness tries to redeem himself makes for a quite an interesting premise for a story. In this film, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and three others collide head-on into a truck leaving his friends dead, girlfriend injured and him brain-damaged. So then follows the aftermath of this life altering accident. The film begins when Chris is shown to be living in an apartment with a much older blind man, Lewis (Jeff Daniels) and attending special classes that aid him to get his sensory and motor skills back to normal. He also works as a janitor at a local cooperative bank at night. Unable to perform daily tasks normally or think through clearly, Chris manages to stay sane and hope for the better. Until Gary arrives on the scene. Low on self -confidence with handicapped social skills, Chris immediately takes to Gary and his friends because they seem to accept him with ease. It doesn't take much to realize the true intentions of Gary. We just wait for it to unfold. It does but in quite a predictable manner. Chris works at a bank that Gary and company would be robbing obviously with his help. What is Chris' role and how he help them forms the remainder of the plot. No questions are too hard to answer and we very well know what will eventually happen. What irked me was the questions that kept popping in my head. How come there isn't any security guard at the bank. There seems to just one police officer on patrol who drops in to check on Chris. How come the bank is all glass-doored with the safe staring right out into the open? What about Chris' very wealthy family? Why isn't he with them? Why the hostility shown by the parents and Chris? The plot wouldn't have been the same then if these were answered. These holes kept rankling in my head through Gary's plan and Chris' actions leading to the climax that was just waiting to be run through before the finale. I knew it beforehand. The End. Gordon-Levitt is an actor who can externalize his angst and pain of the past very poignantly. I've watched few other films of his (Brick, Mysterious Skin apart from 3rd rock....) and he is indeed very talented. Supporting cast do fill up the blanks but yet are not sufficient to overcome the gaping holes in the story. That, was a letdown for me.
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