“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.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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