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The Lookout [Blu-ray]
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on July 24, 2015
I watched this as a class project my son had to analyze it. The character study was very good: Chris had it all, lost it all, and regained a new but different life. The psychological manipulation by Gary was effective until Chris' own honest character won. Not a great action film but a very good study in one man's physical, mental, and emotional challenges. I liked it very much.
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on March 5, 2008
Richard Roeper put this movie high in his top 10 for 2007, so I decided
to watch a rental DVD, and it was terrific. So now I own a copy. The
story concerns a 23 year old who, back in high school, was a great hockey
player. But a terrible car accident at age 19 has left him with memory
and sequencing problems. He attends classes for life skills and lives
with a blind man (Jeff Daniels), who he became paired with through the rehabilitation facility. He works as a janitor at a KC bank nights.
A group of small time crooks who know of his past and his accident decide
to try to befriend him, with Isla Fisher as the bait, into becoming an
accomplice to robbing the bank where he works, using him as the lookout.
There are many twists and turns. The movie is never predictable, and
the emphasis is on character, not action. But when there is action
it is full of surprises. This is a film for a mature audience looking
for intelligent, yet exciting entertainment. I highly recommend it.
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on November 9, 2014
As the mother of a special needs teenager I was worried that this movie would hit too close to home and I was partially right. The parts of the movie dealing with the main character's traumatic brain injury were difficult to watch but the acting won me over. The three main actors (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, and Matthew Goode) were excellent and Goode's American accent never wavered. Daniels was mesmerizing as a blind man with a simple dream of owning a diner. Gordon-Levitt, usually so suave and self-assured, gives a nuanced performance of a young man trying to find his new place in life while still mourning the old one. My only quibble is that Isla Fisher's role was not more fleshed out and her exit was lost in the buildup to the climax of the film. I am surprised that I had not heard more about this movie at the time of it's release and am glad I happened upon it.
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on October 26, 2010
I liked this movie very much. It was fascinating to watch the character development, especially Gary Spargo (Mathew Goode) as he manipulated Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to gain his trust. Both actors seemed to be at the top of their game.

My focus was primarily on Chris, though, because of his brain injury. His frontal lobes were injured in a car accident. My mom has Frontal Lobe Dementia and their behaviors are very much alike. I gained more understanding of her illness in several scenes.

People often tell me they don't see anything wrong with my mom, yet many characters seemed to recognize how odd Chris's behaviors was. In real life I would think it due to their respective ages. People seem to expect older people to be forgetful and will overlook lots of bizarre behavior because granny's getting a bit dotty. Yet if a young man acted the same way, most people would know there's something wrong. I realize it's a movie and scripted so others recognize Chris's problems.

This is a great vehicle to learn about FTD (Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia.)
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I saw this movie a few years back, the thing that stands out the most is the scenes with both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels. I can see why Rian Johnson decided to cast both actors together again for his Sci-Fi masterpiece, Looper. This movie is paced well, well directed and well acted. The more things I see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in, I like him. Writer director Scott Frank does a really good job of setting up the characters and making the viewer empathize with them. On Blu-Ray this movie looks as crisp as its winter setting. The supplemental features are a little on the light side, but at a cheap price this is well worth the buy and a welcome addition to my video library.
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on December 8, 2013
I love this movie Joseph Gordon-Levitt is so hot....he is a good actor. This is a very interesting movie I would love to say more about it but i will just give away the ending and everything along with the movie. But this is about a person who got in a crash and now has a hard time remembering and putting things together he gets confused because of his past injures and feels bad about what has happened to his friends and he works at night cleaning a bank. People become friends with him and has him as a lookout so they can rob the bank
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on August 17, 2007
I don't think enough people have heard of this one or seen it this year so I'll bang out the plot.
We have Chris Pratt our main character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who seems to be getting better and better with each role. Chris is your cool, tough, good looking, athletic, popular kid from a wealthy family with everything going for him who likes to push the limits. At the beginning of the movie Chris shuts off the lights of his car to show his girlfriend the lightening bugs with two other friends in the backseat and a bad car accident takes place.

Now four years later Chris has all kinds of complications from the crash from his memory to his functions and thought process. Chris lives with Lewis played by Jeff Daniels who is blind. Daniels also does a great job and his character is funny and charismatic as he tells a joke at Chris's family's thanksgiving dinner, What do you call a mushroom that walks into a bar and buys everyone a drink? I don't know. A fungi (fun guy). Also his idea to open up a restaurant called Lew's Your Lunch because his name is Lewis. Lewis is a genuine good guy who cares about Chris.

So, this star hockey player that was good at everything now works cleaning a bank. One night at a bar Chris is approached by Gary Spargo a con man that wants to use Chris's access at the bank. Chris is hesitant but wants his old life back like Gary says he can't give that to him but can give him power because whoever has the money has the power. Chris's selfishness, frivolity, and unappreciative way of looking at life makes him seem like the blind one and not Lewis. After this unfortunate accident that took Chris's previous life he is still lucky enough to be surrounded by good honest people like Lewis, the Cop/family man who brings him donuts and checks up on him, and the people he works with. Will Chris turn the lights on this time around before it's too late?

The film has good performances all around and is a great crime story that keeps you interested from start to finish. Scott Frank who wrote this makes his directing debut, he originally wrote this script for David Fincher to direct but ended up doing it himself and does a great job. Frank has also written such scripts as Get Shorty, Minority Report, and Out of Sight. In an interview with Evan Jacobs of Movieweb Evan asks "What would you like viewers to take away from watching The Lookout?

Scott Frank: I just want them to feel like they were told a good story. That to me is the most important thing, that they feel like they watched a story well told. Nothing would make me happier than people being engrossed in the story. I don't think there's any overt message I want to give so much as I just want to tell a rip roaring, good yarn."
Well Mr. Frank you've told one good story.

The Lookout is one of this years highest rated films on Rotten Tomatoes earning 87% positive reviews from 126 Film critics.

**DVD BONUS FEATURES** (from the back cover)
-Sequencing The Lookout Making-of Featurette
-Behind The Mind of Chris Pratt
-Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Scott Frank and Director of Photography Alar Kivilo
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on December 28, 2007
Superb character development, hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, excellent photography and a riveting story, with so many layers and characters you actually care about and will wonder about long after.

It is also the first movie I have ever seen which goes beyond cartoon physics and cartoon physiology to present a true picture of traumatic brain injury. Movie heroes are constantly clubbed over the head, blown up and knocked out yet seconds later they are up and fully functional. They never go blind from the blow to the visual cortex, they are never let go from jobs they can no longer do. James Bond, for example, will never end up weeping at the sight of his face in the mirror or working as a night janitor for minimum wage because he is barely able to function.

James Bond and his die-hard buds are live-action cartoon fantasy.

In Real Life (from traffic accidents to falls on stairs, skateboards, bicycles, and icy sidewalks) and real sports (from high school football, hockey and wrestling to the NFL, NHL and WWF) things are very different. Head injuries have real and lasting consequences. Victims must cope with the overwhelming difficulty of daily routines ("I take a shower WITH SOAP") and the loss of the most basic skills ("I make the coffee -- if I remember to grind the beans first") that normal people do on autopilot.

Former high-school hocky star Chris Pratt is one of the injured. He spends his days at an Independent Life Skills Center, undergoing cognitive therapy in hopes of restoring lost function. Lewis, his apartment mate and only friend provides brilliant contrast. Lewis has what we normally see as a handicap -- he is visually blind -- but he has a highly functional brain.

The contrast is particularly vivid when Jeff returns home to find Chris utterly defeated by a can of tomato sauce; he couldn't find the can opener and tried to make-do with a hammer. It's also painfully clear when Lewis sharply interviews Luvlee whom he correctly pegs as very attractive. Waaaaay too attractive given the situation. "What are you doing here?" Blind Lewis sees something terribly wrong with this picture. Chris doesn't see a thing.

Chris looks perfectly normal -- his physical wounds and scars are seen only in a shower scene -- but his brain is broken, and the obvious symptoms of that handicap mostly inspire impatience and derision.

Or, as often happens in Real Life, they mark Chris as Easy Prey.

A bartender takes advantage of a $17.50 tip on a $2.50 bottle of O'Doul's. And Gary Spargo sees him as the perfect patsy for a bank robbery.

Gary is a predator and like most predators, his prey of choice is the weak and the helpless such as:

-- Luvlee, sweet and kind ("There are 9 of us [for dinner]") but far from bright (she doesn't understand why they're feeding only 7). Luvlee is either too dim or too gullible to have a lot of options in life. Nevertheless, she takes Lewis's advice and finally asks the all-important questions: "How will this end?" and "What am I doing here?"

-- A fragile old man. He shuffles down the hallway with his walker until stopped by Gary's menacing heavy, Bone. Who is he? Who does the house belong to? "A friend of a friend . . . " Bone, it seems, "negotiated" with the owners.

-- Chris. Not only Easy Prey, but also conveniently employed as night janitor at an isolated small-town bank awaiting a huge influx of farm money.

These threads combine as Gary tempts Chris with a beautiful girl and dreams of money, power, and independence. Then everything starts to unravel for a young man who is good at heart and cares for his friends, but cannot remember and cannot sequence.

"Naw, you sequence just fine," advised Lewis on the night of the tomato sauce disaster. "You just gotta start at the end and work backwards. You can't tell a story until you know how it ends."

The end? Save Lewis. But how?

Everything else flows from that and from Chris's own innate courage and decency. And of course, from a superb screen writer. I look forward to seeing much more of Scott Frank's work.

As a side note: Some reviewers doubt that Chris would be able or permitted to drive. Do not doubt it. There are many degrees and variations of brain injury. One wonders if Chris the hockey star hadn't suffered a previous TBI resulting in extremely poor judgment (even for an adolescent) -- for example, thinking that speeding down a dark country road with no seatbelts and no headlights was a really cool idea. In fact, there's an extremely low risk of losing a license for anything short of the highly visible symptoms of grand mal seizures or repetitive serious traffic violations. Persons with less visible symptoms can and do legally drive forever (IF, as Gary Spargo points out, they can afford auto insurance that costs even more than their rent). I have several TBI patients, most of whom still drive. One prays for red lights just so that she can remember where she is and where she is going. Another I know of uses her cell phone to call her therapist before leaving for appointments. While driving she hits redial so when the office answers they can remind her of time and destination and guide her in.

Many people should NOT drive -- but they do.

For just how bad a head injury and functionality can be while still driving down a highway near you, google the excellent series on the Pittsburgh Steelers' Iron Mike Webster written by Greg Garber for ESPN. See also Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues by former WWF star Christopher Nowinski. See also I'll Carry the Fork! Recovering a Life After Brain Injury for one of the best descriptions of what "mild" traumatic brain injury really means.

For how much better it can get, see The Healing Power of Neurofeedback: The Revolutionary LENS Technique for Restoring Optimal Brain Function by Stephen Larsen. A more technical work with research papers on neurofeedback applied to head injury, ADD, autism, and other disorders is Lens: The Low Energy Neurofeedback System by D. Corydon Hammond.
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on February 21, 2012
This is a most engrossing film concerning a young man, who in his late High School years, had been the cause of a devastating automobile accident, killing two of his friends, severely injuring another and leaving him mentally compromised with serious brain trauma. His hopes for a bright future have been dashed leaving him with a night job of janitor for a local savings bank. He is played here by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the finest young actors currently in the business. Seeing him in a few of his other films makes it clear that he gravitates to parts that are both challenging and complex. While watching this film I kept thinking of another actor that I thought must have had an influence on Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- Marlon Brando, of course. Gordon-Levitt's ability to internalize his character is evident in this and other films in which he has appeared: Brick, Manic and, particularly, Mysterious Skin, when he was 23 years of age!

The character, Chris, who is played by Gordon-Levitt is approached by a man he distantly knew from High School who is planning a heist on the bank in which Chris works at night and intends to "use" Chris in his plans. I won't go any further into the plot to avoid spoiling it, but suffice it to say it is a fine film, benefiting from a superb cast and adroit direction by Scott Frank.

I do have one question regarding the story: Would someone with such a brain injury that would prevent him from thinking sequentially and planning his day's actions be able to drive a car, which he does several times in the film? Driving a car must be regarded as a task highly sequential in nature. That aside, I greatly admire this picture.
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on October 6, 2007
This is one of the best movies of the past year and if it wasn't released so early in the year would be generating Oscar type buzz. I finished watching this for the second time tonight and was just as blown away by this film as when I saw it in the theater.

Who would have thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Third Rock from the Sun could give such a brilliant film performance. He plays Chris Pratt, a former star high school hockey player, suffering from short-term memory loss as a result of a tragic car accident. Not only did the accident kill his best friend and his best friend's girlfriend, but ended his promising career.

Jeff Daniel's is not a favorite of mine, but he gives an equally brilliant performance as Chris's blind housemate. All of the supporting roles are cast perfectly with Isla Fischer delivering a surpisingly strong performance.

This movie resonated with me in a similar way that Memento did (for obvious reasons). I saw them both right when they were released and came away thinking about them for weeks after I saw them. The last 30 minutes of this film are absolutely riveting with Gordon-Levitt turning in a performance that is definitely Oscar worthy (even though I am certain the Academy will overlook him). A pure and simple gem of a film.
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