Saturday, April 2, 2011

Source Code Review (Spoiler Free): The Boy Done Good

The first thing I did when I came home from seeing Source Code was look up reviews and read only the bad ones.  There weren't many - and the ones that are out there are mostly similar in their critiques (of which some I agree with and some I don't) - but satisfied that I hadn't missed anything major in my assessment of it, I decided to proceed with my own review as if I hadn't read anyone else's.

Source Code is pretty damn good.  I liked it.  

And I could leave it at that, actually.  But I won't...  (It's me, after all.  I'm bombastic and wordy when it comes to reviewing Jake movies.)


Look, you may not know this about me, but I kinda like this Jake Gyllenhaal.  Yeah, he and his entire family and everyone associated with him - personally and professionally - has been pretty douche-y to me for the past five fucking years, but he's like an old friend that I still run into from time to time.  I've earned the right to give him shit but I don't wish him any ill will.  I want him to succeed.  It was hard for me to watch his last two movies collapse under the weight of their own stupidity the way they did. 

As I drove up to the theater yesterday, I had a surreal moment of contemplation, the same that I had when Zodiac came out (the first Jake movie released after I started blogging about him) but haven't had since:  This is what it's all about.  We all sit around and talk about him, write about him, speculate about him, but we're here because he makes movies.  And when he has a film out, none of us are any different than the people sharing the theater with us.  Everyone in the room has paid the same amount to be entertained.  There's something so mystically satisfying about that, about sitting in a dark room with strangers and entering a new world.  The people in the theater with me no more knew that I was "Prophecy Girl" than I knew anything about them; when the lights dim, it stops being about any of us and our personal interests and it starts being about the communal human experience of enjoying a story.

This is what he is paid to do.  This is why we are all here.  And at the risk of offending some (many?) of you, he doesn't always come through.  Sometimes you can see him "acting."  Sometimes the story is shitty.  Sometimes all of us are confronted with the undeniable truth that Jake Gyllenhaal isn't an actor who can draw an audience.  He can draw us, but we're the exception.  We're emotionally involved.   The vast majority of humanity isn't.  The vast majority of those who were involved after Brokeback Mountain, even, isn't.

Source Code wasn't perfect.  There were moments when it didn't flow and moments when I thought that Jake, great as I think he is, has yet to grow into his charisma.  It's the same complaint I've always had:  He rarely makes me believe this is what he wants out of life.  It can feel as if I'm looking through him when he's on screen.  The same nagging doubts have followed me ever since I learned (in my Jake-driven youth) that he's often cold to fans.  Why? I wondered.  Why be a movie star if you don't like attention from your audience?  (Isn't that the whole point?)  Why act if in doing it you're merely going through the motions?  Why is it, exactly, that he does this? 

Source Code is a good story.  But it's not impeccable.  It makes you think, but it won't change your worldview.  And Jake is excellent, but excellent for him has yet match the excellence of the top echelon of Hollywood.

I know why he's a hard sell as a leading man.  But right now, I'm proud of him.  He did well.  He entertained me.  And I'm about as hard of a critic as he's going to get... 

28 comments:

Anonymous,  April 2, 2011 at 11:18 AM  

argh I made such a good comment I now it's all gone from this f-ing googleaccount stuff...

FUUUUU!!!

Short:
Nice post PG :)
Me bad gyllenhaalic xD

(Can't be arsed to write all again, sorry)

Anonymous,  April 2, 2011 at 11:19 AM  

geeez and the anon that is me:

SASHA

gyllenhaalisgr8 April 2, 2011 at 11:47 AM  

I am going today with another group of friends to see SC. The first five minutes were a given because of the first five minute trailer. After that it got really interesting with things I expected and some I didn't expect. I thought the movie "ended" early, but again I was mistaken. It had me to the end, which reminded me of another movie end that I shall not mention right now. But I loved Duncan's use of extreme closeups of Jake; If anyone can emote with his expressions, it is Jake. Michelle seemed rather superfluous. And Vera at times reminded me of Maggie, looks wise. But I must admit that I enjoyed the thrills and spills. I will probably end up seeing it 3-4 times at least. Good job, Jake & Duncan!

Vanessa April 2, 2011 at 6:18 PM  

I saw it today with 3 women friends, my sister & the husband of one of my friends. We all love movies, most genres too. I am the only one though that would see Jake's movies over & over again. However, today, they all loved this movie, & A LOT. I really think Duncan Jones is a brilliant director. If any of you have not seen his 1st movie, Moon, then you should. I foresee many many great movies from him in the future. As far as Jake goes, I thought he was great, Michelle was good, & Vera was a little better than MM. Jeffrey Wright was better than I expected him to be. The story was very good in my opinion, & due to refusing to see any spoilers ahead of time, I did not know all the details of the story going in. & I highly suggest any of you that haven't seen it yet, do not let anyone spoil it for you & don't read the script first either. It would not have been as good, in my opinion, had I known everything ahead of time. Like gyllenhaalisgr8, I will be seeing it again & maybe 2 or 3 more times.

Littleusagi April 2, 2011 at 8:14 PM  

I agree with Vanessa. I've seen the movie last night with my sister and she keeps on asking me if I know the plot. I kept telling her that I've only seen the trailers and based from the feedback from people whom already seen it, it was good. Thankfully, she thought so too. After watching a couple of not-so-good movies last month it is refreshing to see this film.

Oh wait... it is insulting to Duncan and Jake to be compared to *toot*... Never mind. Hahahaha!

joelliea April 2, 2011 at 9:28 PM  

This is by far the most subjective (and personal) movie review I've read. Love it. Thanks. PG, for the good read.

moi,  April 3, 2011 at 5:43 AM  

"....I decided to proceed with my own review as if I hadn't read anyone else's."

but, how is this possible??? once you've read them, you've read them! Hel-lo!

Prophecy Girl April 3, 2011 at 9:15 AM  

^^^ Um, it's not that difficult; I wrote exactly what I was planning to write before I read them. Notice, as joelliea pointed out, it was an utterly subjective review that had almost nothing to do with the specifics of the movie and everything to do with my personal feelings about Jake. Hel-lo!

YAY, I'm so glad everyone so far likes this movie!! It's very different from Jake's most recent films, and as someone who often likes things that other people don't like (and vice versa) I wasn't sure where everyone would stand with this.

gyllenhaalisgr8, I agree with you on Michelle being somewhat superfluous. The whole love subplot seemed a little forced and I don't think it added much to the story (although, I know, studios like to throw in love stories for us females...).

I'm definitely glad I didn't know anything specific about the plot before I went in. I'm anxious to see it again just to catch anything I missed the first time around. :)

Prophecy Girl April 3, 2011 at 9:31 AM  

Hey, Jake was on SNL last night! I...totally went to bed early and missed it. The segment's HERE. :)

KD,  April 3, 2011 at 1:51 PM  

Um, basically my thoughts exactly, although I probably liked it a bit more than you sound like you did.

But then I was peeved at some of the edits made to the story. So maybe not.

Call Me Mo April 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM  

Is it just me or did any one else dislike the ending? I was intrigued most of the movie, but the end was ass. That was kind of disappointing.

Vanessa April 4, 2011 at 11:32 AM  

Hey Mo, in my opinion, the ending worked better than had they done something else, I can't go into why, because of spoilers, so I don't know what else to say other than I was very satisfied with it, but I totally understand why some people would not like it as well.

Prophecy Girl April 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM  

I had mixed feelings on the ending but, like Vanessa, I don't want to spoil anything for anyone... I'll just say that I liked the way it ended but wished it would have gotten there in a different way (if that makes any sense, which it probably doesn't). I'm seriously considering reading the script now because I have a feeling (strengthened by KD's comments) that there were some things that were missing/changed that maybe would have made certain elements slow more smoothly. I was also left with a lot of questions at the end and I wasn't sure if I was meant to be wondering all those things or if changes to the script meant there were some holes that weren't originally there.

(Wow, that was the least sense I've ever made. I am terrible at making points without specifics.)

Vanessa April 4, 2011 at 1:54 PM  

PG, can we make a spoiler thread on the forum so we can discuss the ending there & not worry about upsetting peeps that haven't seen it yet? I really want to talk about that ending myself, but really can't here.

coffeecat April 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM  

"(Wow, that was the least sense I've ever made. I am terrible at making points without specifics."

OR, you are really good at making non-specific points!

Prophecy Girl April 4, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

^^^ Both are probably true! :D

Vanessa, great idea! I'd love to talk more about it all, too...

Vanessa April 4, 2011 at 3:42 PM  

OK, I started a thread over on the forum under Source Code discussions with a major spoiler warning. So, if you haven't seen the movie, & still want to read the thread, do so at your own risk. I already posted my thoughts on it, but would really love to hear others opinions about the whole movie as well as the ending.

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