Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Double Bill Mini (and Cine) Musings: Groundhog Action and Hollywood Dreams...

Source Code:
Duncan Jones didn't half make an impressive splash when he touched down with his wonderfully intriguing and charmingly produced 70s-vibe, existential sci-fi debut Moon, so it's great to see he hasn't suffered difficult second album syndrome with sci-fi actioner Source Code.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays military pilot Colter Stevens who mysteriously finds himself within the titular code, committed to repeat the last 8 minutes of life afforded to a passenger on a train that was just blown up by a terrorist madman who plans to go all-out in the centre of Chicago, which is hurriedly being evacuated. The source code is all to do with residual memory ... or something like that ... the sci-fi element is a touch woolly, but being that the film moves with a swift pace and talented direction, the plot holes and "but what about?" questions don't particularly get in the way.

While some recent movies that repeat a period of time for dramatic effect got a bit grating (Vantage Point), Source Code fortunately keeps things fresh throughout with new ideas to explore. It's an interesting flick that could have easily, in the wrong hands, become a silly paranoid sci-fi direct-to-DVD venture ... but in the hands of Jones, with committed performances from the key players on screen, it's an enjoyable ride with some nifty ideas to keep things fresh and moving along - even if you're left with a few plot holes come the end.

Mulholland Drive:
A decade might be pushing the term "fashionably late", but I know for a fact in January 2002 (when Lynch's mournful Hollywood dream first came to the UK) I wouldn't have been prepared, let alone suited, for viewing it. So I'm glad that I've come to it with an entirely different outlook on life and cinema than what I possessed a decade ago.

Picking it up on the recently released StudioCanal Collection Blu-Ray, it's a regret-fuelled dream/nightmare for the most part, backed up by a scattered reality. Inspired by the golden age of Hollywood, the mysterious charm of the eponymous road, the difficulties of getting a film made, and even the Black Dahlia case, Lynch's film is a haunting neo-noir mystery.

You can't half-watch this film, you can't skip bits, and you shouldn't dismiss it. Fair enough, it's certainly not for everyone, but all you need to do is pay attention and decipher what information you're provided is key and what is extraneous - indeed Lynch released a list of 10 clues to help you understand more about the film. Furthermore, as illustrated on one of the disc's special features, some French fans of the film - using the 10 clues - pulled together a convincing deconstruction of the film's plot. I'd have to agree with their findings (but do see the movie before you watch that featurette) and was well on my way to a similar conclusion after my first viewing - however it's most certainly one of those films you need to see more than once in order to appreciate the myriad of information thrown your way, and how the seemingly disparate mysteries and symbols tie together.

Furthermore it's a beautiful film, both visually and aurally, and it's haunting atmosphere is one that sticks with you afterwards. It rewards, like most of Lynch's projects, active participation and attention from the viewer. You've got to be in the mood, and you've got to have the time set aside (thanks to the lack of a traditional scene selection), but if you're willing to invest in it, and dive into the beguiling atmosphere, you'll remember it for a long time - and quite possibly become obsessed with it.


Wych Elm said...

I went to see Source Code and enjoyed it. Agree with those who say the science was a bit hokey (sp?); I found it a bit 'untidy' at times. But I also agree this wasn't too obstructive and didn't spoil the film for me too much, but what did was the lack of chemistry between Jake G's character and the girl. Would be interested to hear if anyone else felt the same....

I saw Mulholland Drive a good few years ago in Uni. I enjoyed it overall but need to see it again; I was totally with it and in to it until the camera met that tramp with the black box (or something similar... I forget) which we then entered into and everything changed. I remember feeling lost and confused at this point. I think/hope I'd appreciate it more now.

Nick Thomson said...

Yeah, the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan could have used a little more of a bump, a little more time, but then again there's so much going on I don't know where I'd put any extra development.

You should definitely give Mulholland Drive another viewing. There's two appearances of the Blue Box, once for the transition point between the worlds of reality and unreality, and once more with the unleashing of torment ... I'm trying to stay vague enough so as to not spoil anything for anyone reading, but definitely give it another spin - and seek out Lynch's 10 clues to the film, as they definitely help focus the mind on some key areas.