Gabriel Watches Movies: Looper

Saw the trailer for this back when I saw Dark Knight Rises and it looked interesting but — full disclosure — I probably wouldn’t have remembered to watch it except that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it, and I like his hips clothes.

On the whole, it was pretty good, though it proved once again that Hollywood plots can only be powered by dead women and manpain. No exceptions. The time travel part was more hole than plot, but they humanized the technology and showed what it meant for the people living with it, which is really what I’m all about.

In particular, I liked:

– The leading-up-to-sex scene. (They ostentatiously fade to black before anything R-rated happens.) Emily Blunt was excellent in a role that could have flopped with a less talented actress, and in her hands that scene is poignant and remarkably realistic. You really get a sense of how quietly starved her character had been for physical intimacy, living out in the countryside as she was, and how much courage it takes to make the first move like that — not knowing how your overtures are likely to be received, but wanting it so badly that you can’t not take the chance. (Also, tumbling onto the bed fully clothed? Hot. I know this from experience.)

– Bruce Willis crying after he [spoiler alert] murders that kid, because men crying is not something you often see in western cinema, except over dead wives/mothers/etc. Men doing terrible things because they are ~necessary~ is a pretty standard trope, but then they usually grit their teeth and soldier on. I really liked that they took the time (a surprisingly long time, given how busy this movie was) to show Bruce Willis’s character being rightly overcome with the horror of what he’s done, and having his small breakdown. (And putting him in a public park for it was an interesting choice, because the public setting, everyone else going about their business, heightens the contrast with his intense, private emotional upheaval.)


Spamming you with irl…

Got 2/3 of my recommendation letters lined up, and they’re not looking nearly so bad as I’d been expecting. I’d been worried because I’ve been out of academia for six years, and most of my undergrad professors wouldn’t recognize me now, much less remember me enough to write letters of recommendation.

I’m scheduled to take the GRE on November 15th, which is giving me fits because OMG I CANNOT MATH, and my high school self would die of shame to see me now, given as I went to a math-and-science boarding school. The verbal section I do fine on, until the critical reading questions, where it devolves into me yelling at the book and going “Your MOM is irrelevant to critical consideration!”

Although, interestingly, the analytical writing section is turning out to be right up my alley. (Interesting because I get the impression that most other people haaaaate that part.) But it’s like, here’s a topic! You have half an hour to write something persuasive about it! And I’m like, “On it.” It is, admittedly, testing me over the areas I’m weakest in (structuring an argument in a logical way and getting it done in a timely fashion) but I’ve been making great strides in both areas this past year, and it’s paying off. (Although — ohhh — I learned how to fight on the internet, and I’m having trouble reining myself in from grandstanding and ad hominem arguments.)

Also paying off is all the weird and random reading I do, because it’s left me with a huge range of people to quote and factoids to cite. Freakonomics on nature vs. nurture adoption studies? Robert Cialdini on “flip-flopping” as a dirty word in politics? Jared Diamond on man-made natural disasters? Dude, I can find something to say about anything.

And it is kind of depressing that my skillset is valued in-and-only-in academia, where there is no money to be had and nobody in the real world respects you. But whatever, it’ll be fun!

Wherein my life is like a YA novel, except with more condoms

So my employer, henceforth known as the professor, has what I’ve decided is a magic basement. Express a wish for something, and out of thirty years’ worth of accumulated detritus, the basement will obligingly produce whatever you need.

Me: “Man, it is a pain in the ass to sweep up all these leaves. I wonder if he has a leaf blower down there somewhere.”
Basement: “Like this one?”
Me: “Like that one.”
(Professor: “I had a leaf blower??“)

Me: “Hm, I need a screwdriver to attach these shelves.”
Basement: “Power drill?”
Me: “…that works too.”
(Professor: “OMG I’ve always wanted a power drill!”
Me: “Apparently you’ve always had a power drill.”)

Me: “I’m thirsty.”
Basement: “Tequila!”
Me: “Not quite.”
(Professor: “Er… you should probably throw that away.”)

Basement: “Huge bag of condoms?” :D
Me: “…except they all expired in 2004.”
(Professor: “Were they the lubricated kind? Yeah, not mine then.”)

Today it produced a pair of bright red, never-before-worn, fair-trade sneakers — in my size, no less — which the professor promptly decided should be mine. (And also, wtf, eleventy million boxes of this tacky thing, idek.)

I’m still holding out for a paper shredder, because we need one of those and I have found not one, but TWO empty boxes that once contained paper shredders.