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Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt Pratt@moviecitynews.com

DVD Geek: Source Code

An inspired variation of the Groundhog’s Day gimmick, Source Code, from Summit Entertainment, is about an Air Force pilot placed in the body of a teacher on a commuter train and charged with finding out who planted the bomb on the train before it explodes, and replaying the same ride again and again until he solves the puzzle.  There is a romantic component to the story, naturally, and more than one life affirming, love affirming conclusion, leaving a viewer feeling both happy and satisfied, several times, after a stimulating and exciting ride.  Jake Gyllenhaal stars, with Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright.  In that the film also evokes aspects of Quantum Leap, there is a cleverly chosen cameo appearance by Scott Bakula.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.78:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback.  The opening montage of Chicago on a bright, sunny day, before the plot even gets started, is so beautifully executed it is well worth playing over several times itself.  The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound has some reasonably good separation effects and a decent amount of power.  There is an alternate Spanish audio track in 5.1 Dolby, optional English and Spanish subtitles, a generalized and sporadic trivia subtitle track, 35 minutes of passable interview featurettes with the cast and crew that effectively build in detail as they advance, and a decent 7-minute overview of the scientific and technological concepts being tweaked within the story.

There is also a fairly good commentary track featuring Gyllenhaal, director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley.  They do talk a lot about the story, but in an informative manner, discussing everything from its ‘train of thought’ development to its metaphysics.  They also speak about the performances, Jones’ challenge to make the repeated sequences not feel redundant, and the excellent production designs (Gyllenhaal:  “I love searching through things, I just have to say.  There is something as an actor.”  Jones:  “There were a lot of metal edges on this set.”  Gyllenhaal:  “That’s true.”  Jones:  “I think you cut your hands up so many…”  Gyllenhaal:  “That is so true.  Duncan agreed to do the movie and it was 4 months later that we were making the movie and so the train, occasionally, due to the speed at which we made the movie, and really how the movie moves, too, it sort of mimics itself.”  Jones:  “Jake’s hands looked like sliced bacon by the end of the shoot.”  Gyllenhaal:  “I do grab onto a lot of really sharp edges that don’t look sharp but are.  I had bloody hands.”  Jones:  “We had a very busy nurse on set.”  Gyllenhaal:  “And different hand inserts, because Duncan didn’t like the bloody hands.”).

One Response to “DVD Geek: Source Code”

  1. abuckley says:

    I didn’t mind the movie, I thought it had some good plot elements. If they’d thrown in a groundhog I would have been completely sold :)

    We recently started a weekly geek entertainment news, movie and comic book reviews podcast…Trilogy! http://www.planetkibi.com/trilogy-everything-comes-in-threes.html Please feel free to have a listen… :)

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“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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