DVD releases

“Looper”

Time travel is like meth to many writers. The plot gimmick has a powerful addictive draw despite, more often than not, it resulting in a slow, painful death.

Rian Johnson gave in to the attraction and uses time travel in “Looper.” The story is about a future where murders are so hard to commit that victims are sent 30 years into the past where hit men kill them and dispose of the bodies. It’s a profitable life for Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) until he has to kill his future self.

Johnson’s script doesn’t dwell on the time travel elements. Instead, it focuses on the relationships that emerge between these close encounters of the clock kind.

The most interesting is Joe’s connection to Sara (Emily Blunt), a single mother living on a remote farm with her special son. Joe’s presence in their lives shifts both her timeline and his own.

The only problem with the film is the side effects of a time travel story — even when handled with such thought and sincerity. If you allow yourself to ponder certain elements — like why Johnson creates parallel time lines with no explanation — then the film collapses on itself.

It’s best to step back and look at the story’s central questions: What are the elements that shape our lives and what influence do others have on us? That’s where the film is its strongest and why you should make time to see it.

Grade: B-

Also new

“Doctor Zhivago”: Keira Knightley stars in this adaptation of the Boris Pasternak’s novel that aired on “Masterpiece Theatre” in 2003.

“Cosmopolis”: Robert Pattinson stars in the David Cronenberg film based on the Don Delillo novel.

“War of the Dead”: Americans on a World War II mission must face the same soldiers they killed before. Andrew Tierman stars.

“The Thompsons”: Cursed vampires are looking for another clan who can help them survive.

Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

“Little Birds”: The friendship of two young women is tested when they leave home. Juno Temple and Kay Panabaker star.

“Lillie”: The 13-part drama looks at the life of Lillie Langtry, the British actress.

“Justified: The Complete Third Season”: Timothy Olyphant stars as the U.S. marshal who has a very old-school way of dealing with bad guys.

“Trial &Retribution: Set 6”: David Hayman and Victoria Smurfit play investigators on the London police force. These are the four concluding mysteries in the series.

“Being Human: The Complete Second Season”: Syfy Channel series about what happens when a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost share a house.

“Cat in the Hat: Hurray, It’s Valentine’s Day”: You can watch this animated story at home, you can watch it in Rome.

“The Trouble With Bliss”: A 35-year-old man (Michael C. Hall) has reached a dead end with his life.

Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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