“Source Code,” Reviewed

“Source Code,” Reviewed (photo)

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“The source code is a gift, Don’t squander it by thinking.” — Dr. Walter Rutledge, “Source Code”

I could spend this review nitpicking “Source Code” to death. It’s definitely got a couple plot holes, and some science that doesn’t make much sense. But the fact of the matter is while “Source Code” is chugging along it’s a terrifically entertaining puzzle movie. Let’s not squander that by thinking too much.

The setup, explained in the trailer, is “Groundhog Day” by way of Tony Scott’s less fun but more thoughtful “Deja Vu.” US Army Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is recruited by a top secret government program called “source code.” Using technology that certainly demands allegiance to Dr. Rutledge’s aforementioned quotation, Gyllenhaal’s consciousness is able to enter the body of a man on a Chicago commuter train eight minutes before it was blown up by a terrorist bomb earlier that very morning. Stevens’ got those 8 minutes to solve the mystery of who planted the bomb and where they plan to strike next. After each explosion, Stevens warps back to his own body, where he’s debriefed on his findings, then sent back onto the train to uncover more clues. Stevens is told he’s only moving through a simulacrum of the past, so stopping the bomb or evacuating the passengers on the train is meaningless: the event has already transpired and everyone onboard is already dead. But that doesn’t stop Stevens from falling for the woman he wakes up across from each time the source code begins (Michelle Monaghan), or from trying a way to save her. Fittingly for a story about time loops and the immutability of destiny, most of the action takes place on a train, a method of transportation which travels in only one direction and only on the path that has been predetermined for it.

Based on the shifty behavior Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright’s Dr. Rutledge as Stevens’ source code handlers there’s clearly more to this technology than first meets the eye, and having dueling mysteries — the identity of the bomber and the true nature of source code — keeps the film thrumming along at a very satisfying pace. “Source Code” was directed by Duncan Jones, who last made the superb indie sci-fi movie “Moon,” and is quickly proving himself a major force in the world of smart, character-driven science-fiction. He’s also a very good director of actors. He got at least three memorable performances out of Sam Rockwell in “Moon” and I like the choices he and Gyllenhaal made in their conceptualization of Stevens, who behaves more like a regular guy than a meathead action hero. He reacts to source code the way any of us would: with confusion, anger, and a bad attitude. Can you blame him? He’s knows that every eight minutes he’s going to get blown up against his will. And that can’t be a fun feeling.

In other words, Dr. Rutledge wouldn’t be a fan of Duncan Jones films. The good doctor may not want us to squander his source code on thoughts, but Jones’ clearly intends his “Source Code” for viewers ready to question the larger implications of the technology than enables Stevens’ repeated trips to the past. The film’s ending is particularly unusual for a modern science-fiction film thanks to its emphasis on its hero’s personal growth rather than big explode-y action sequences. Still, as refreshingly atypical as that ending is, it also has a darker angle that the movie kind of ignores and which suggests Stevens’ behavior isn’t quite as heroic as it’s made out to be. But there I go thinking again.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.