Film Screening 5th August, 2011

Poster for Source Code

Source Code 

8:00 PM, 5th August, 2011

  • M
  • 93 mins
  • 2011
  • Duncan Jones
  • Ben Ripley
  • Jake Gyllenhaal,  Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga

After a stint in Afghanistan, a US Air Force Pilot (Gyllenhaal) somehow finds himself on a train to Chicago – in another man’s body – but not for long, because after eight minutes, the train explodes. Then he finds himself strapped to a chair in a top-secret military base. Then he’s back in the train, about to relive the same last eight minutes of another man’s life. After several repeats of this, he comes to know those eight minutes very well indeed. His job is not, thankfully, to change the past; all he has to do is work out who blew up the train, and how.

Director Jones’s previous film, Moon, was a clever little science fiction story widely admired and praised for re-invigorating the genre. I thought it was a stodgy, seen-it-all-before pancake. I was in the minority, just as I’ll probably be in the minority in finding his follow-up, Source Code, a vast improvement in every respect. It has all the energy that Moon lacked; it’s even cleverer, and it’s less of a stunt.

One word of warning – and I don’t consider this a spoiler: not one film in a thousand has an ending as beautifully perfect as the one that Jones presents to us in Source Code. Unfortunately, this ending is followed by three minutes of footage that make complete nonsense of it and of everything else. Mind you, I don’t regard this as a serious flaw. I just prefer to charitably pretend that those three minutes didn’t happen.

Henry Fitzgerald

Poster for Barney’s Version

Barney’s Version 

9:48 PM, 5th August, 2011

  • M
  • 130 mins
  • 2010
  • Richard J. Lewis
  • Michael Konyves
  • Paul Giamatti,  Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman

It’s a pity that the Best Actor Oscar race this year was so competitive because, in any other year, I think Paul Giamatti would have made the final five for his performance here. As it was, Javier Bardem’s performance in Biutiful beat Giamatti, Robert Duvall (Get Low) and Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine) for the fifth spot, though if there ever was a year where they should’ve changed the rules and expanded the category to eight nominees, this would have been it. But I digress…

Giamatti stars as Barney Panofski, who we meet in the mid-70s in Rome, at the beginning of his first of three marriages. At his second wedding, he meets his third-wife-to-be, who also happens to be ‘the one’ in his story, and we journey further with him through his grumpy, emotionally needy, insecure, funny and tragic life.

I’m generally a sucker for a life story film, and I am really pleased when it comes out as fantastic as this. As said before, Giamatti is great (well-deserving of his Golden Globe win for his performance), and Hoffman and Minnie Driver are also good in their supporting ‘Jewish comedy stereotype’ roles. Through four decades of Barney’s life we encounter suspicious disappearances, raucous weddings, Alzheimer’s, paternal wisdom (‘Marriage is like pushing an avocado through a cheese grater’) and Leonard Cohen songs – just like real life!

Don’t miss one of the best films of this semester.

Travis Cragg