Source Code

Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a man who’s only got 8 minutes to save the world, a house that’s not haunted, a superhero who isn’t a superhero, and an Easter bunny who’s not the Easter bunny.

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Source Code really solidifies a suspicion we all have had about director Duncan Jones: he’s a real people person. Yes, unlike most sci-fi filmmakers, there is very little cynicism or dread to his films. While both Moon and his successful sophomore effort, Source Code, do explore the idea of man abusing science, ultimately, there’s a huge amount of hope in his work. Not only that, but he follows generally fun and – if a tad flawed – good people. That’s right, there’s no mopey, emo action lead in Source Code. Colter Stevens, the hero of the film, is the Han Solo archetype. He’s charming, brash, and sometimes, thinks more with his fists than his head. Stevens is quite similar to Duncan Jones’s previous antagonist, Sam Bell. There’s an everyman quality to both leads. They’re not macho. They’re not invincible. And they’re both flawed individuals. Like Bell, Stevens doesn’t shy away from acting like a jerk here and there. The predicament he’s in – once again, just like Sam Bell – raises ethical questions. Although Source Code isn’t entirely hardcore science-fiction, Jones does what all classical films of genre should do: ask a few questions. If you’ve ever seen Jones an interview before, then you already know he’s a personable and fun-seeming filmmaker. He manages to take that upbeat spirit of his and interject that good nature in his films, and as was the case with Moon, it works. WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers.

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The Reject Report

It ain’t Easter, right? It ain’t Easter. It ain’t white rabbit day. Don’t tell Universal that. They’re looking to bring in the golden egg with the seasonal Hop, and there’s a very good chance of that happening. Duncan Jones’s second film, Source Code, and the new horror film from the guys who brought us Saw – thanks, guys to be named later – may have something to say about that, but whatever that is will probably fall on deaf bunny ears. See what I did there? Well, see some more this week with the Reject Report the hollow chocolate bunny edition.

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Colleen Goodwin is a risky character in Source Code. Goodwin is the most exposition-reliant character, and if she was handled wrongly, this GPS machine could have been the most ham-fisted character of the year. Nearly every line Goodwin has is exposition. As an actor, as Vera Farmiga discusses, walking a fine line of being a character instead of a device is no easy task. For exposition to generally work, it requires a sense of urgency. Considering most of Farmiga’s screen time involves her talking on a computer screen, that must have made matters even more difficult. This type of exposition either flies or falls completely flat, so it was a smart move on Jones’s part to hire a pro like Farmiga. Although Goodwin is the main key to explaining things for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Colter (and for the audience), she’s also important for raising the main ethical questions of the film. By the end, Goodwin makes for a bit more than a lifeless and pandering talking head. Here’s what the well-spoken Vera Farmiga had to say about the art of bullshit, the difficulty of discussing Source Code, bringing realism to exposition, and more:

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If you don’t know who Duncan Jones is, it’s high time you learn. Jones burst onto the movie scene with his debut feature Moon, a low-budget sci-fi flick that wowed audiences at Sundance back in 2009. Picked up by Sony for US distribution, Moon is a subtle, quiet film featuring an incredible performance from Sam Rockwell, but the best part about it is that it’s a smart film. With the bright shiny colors and backseat plot propelling Avatar to eleventy billion dollars worldwide, it’s surprising that anyone rolled the dice on a small, smart sci-fi film. It’s refreshing that someone had the balls to say “yes” and doubly refreshing that audiences mostly embraced it. Now Jones is back at the helm with about 35 million of Summit’s hard-earned Twilight dollars to play with for his second feature, Source Code. Note: I saw Source Code blind and I think that’s a good way to see this type of film. I’m told the trailer gives away basically the same information that I’ll reveal below but it could be considered spoiler-y. If you’d rather go into not knowing anything, and I highly recommend that method of film-viewing, then please skip the next three paragraphs.

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Jake Gyllenhaal last foray into the action lead world wasn’t exactly a successful one. If you don’t know which film I’m referring to, it was the one where he had that interesting accent and played a prince of Persia. Still don’t recall that film? Understandable. But a year after seeing it, you may actually still remember director Duncan Jones’s Source Code and the lead hero of the film, Colter Stevens. Gyllenhaal is a charming guy. He’s the type of person you could throw a stupid question at who would give you back an interesting or, at the very least, a funny answer. Gyllenhaal rarely gets to show these charms on the big screen, which is a shame, but Duncan Jones smartly allows him to. Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is the type of leading man all us nerds like: he’s brash, witty, vulnerable, and even acts like a jerk at times. During a recent roundtable interview at SXSW we discussed what type of hero Colter is, Duncan Jones’s style, the script, the ending, and what’s going on with Nailed. There are a few spoilers, but they’re all clearly labeled and skippable:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the nightly ramblings of a link-dump crazed insomniac whose life begins and ends with what ends up in his Instapaper queue. He survives on links and thrives on the knowledge that someone out there is clicking through. Click. Click. Click. You can feed the beast by emailing wicked cool articles and hilarious movie-related videos to neil@filmschoolrejects.com.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk SXSW with the Reject team and find out why Netflix is doing what they’re doing. Gigaom site editor Ryan Lawler joins us to help makes sense of why Netflix would get into the distribution game with House of Cards and what it might mean for the future. Joe Nicolosi (who made that video of the girl retelling Star Wars without seeing it and that Super Mario indie short film the kids are talking about), discusses the perils of the SXSW softball game, how he got the job making all the bumpers that play before the movies, his creative process, and the beauty of film festivals. Neil and Rob dust off the SXSW from their chaps to tell us about their favorite films and the movies that will coming to a theater near you. Plus, Kate Erbland from Gordon and The Whale and Scott Weinberg from Twitch Film go head-to-head in our movie news quiz, and we all end up talking about Cameron Crowe and the power of nostalgia. Loosen up your tie and stay a while.

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Pee-wee Herman and hipsters were not topics of discussions I was looking to tackle with Michelle Monaghan. Knowing I only had 10-minutes with Monaghan, I wanted to make every second count… so obviously, discussing how hipster infested Austin is and how I just had a run in with Pee-wee ‘frickin’ Herman before the interview probably were somewhat of sidetracks, and so was some nice small talk at the beginning. As for Source Code, it’s a tricky film to discuss. To fully delve into the film and its ideas, one most go into spoiler territory to get a fully meaty convo about the film, so beware of one or two spoiler alerts. But mainly, Monaghan and I briefly discuss Jake Gyllenhaal’s grey area and likable hero, attempting to grasp unique ideas in script form, and the questions the film raises. 

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South By Southwest has already begun heating up, but there are still plenty of movies and buckets of Schlitz to go. If you’re in Austin right now, you’re probably puzzling day to day over what you’re going to see. If you’re not in Austin, you’re probably still wondering what might escape the confines of the festival to see theaters near you. Although there’s no guarantee (except for a few big names we already know will see theaters), here are the hot tickets that might just earn themselves distribution deals. Our intrepid SXSW patrol (comprised of Adam Charles, Jack Giroux, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Luke Mullen and Brian Salisbury) have put together a list of what they’re most looking forward to for your reading and viewing pleasure. Keep in mind, there are over 250 movies playing this year, so this represents only a small amount of the quality programming. These are the movies that stand out even amongst the best of the best at the fest. Check it out for yourself:

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Moon director Duncan Jones’ sophomore effort Source Code hasn’t even hit theaters yet, but he’s already talking about what he wants to do for his third film. Before he even began Source Code, Jones was trying to get producers to sign off on a script he had written called Mute. It was described as a sci-fi influenced noir with a sprawling, futuristic version of Berlin serving as the backdrop. Unfortunately, times are tough, and Jones hasn’t been able to find funding for such an off the beaten path project. He’s moving on to another pitch instead, but this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Mute. Jones told Gordon and the Whale that he is going to take the Darren Aronofsky doing The Fountain approach and produce the script as a graphic novel, “I’ve been talking to my producer today and we have decided that we’re going to release Mute as a graphic novel. Because we’ve had so many problems trying to get this film made, you know? The people who are involved with financing films have just been…shy…shy of making the script. So what we decided to do is we’re going to make a graphic novel of it, prove it…prove it to an audience that this works and maybe in the future get the chance to come back and make it.”

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So you’ve eaten at Pita Pit and Best Wurst (because there’s nothing wrong with two lunches) and you’re scoping out theaters ready to get more movies on, but you have no idea what you’re going to see. That teary indie drama or that ridiculous sci-fi comedy? You don’t know do you? And you can’t figure it out on your own for some reason. Fortunately, we’ve created this handy guide to help you in your time of duress. Use it wisely. There’s no chance it’ll send you to the porno theater across the highway, so if you end up there, it’s on you.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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There are 130 films this year at Austin’s SXSW, and 60 of them being world premieres. When you scroll down the list of the films showing there, 99% of them you’ve never heard of before. Only a handful stick out that you actually know about or have eagerly (or mildly…) been anticipating. The films at the fest that currently are the most exciting for us are also the most high profile. That’s not to say there won’t be far superior little known flicks playing there – there most definitely will be – but the big ones showing are always the early attention grabbers. We’ll be running a bigger and more comprehensive list of SXSW must-sees closers to the fest, which is basically when we’ll have more info on the films there that aren’t being released by Universal or Summit. But as of right now, here are a few features that already got our excitement on high. As for those of you interested right now in knowing more about those 130 films, check out the full list here.

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After spending all that time isolated on the dark side of the moon (mere miles away from Michael Bay and never knowing it), and then re-living the same explosive scenario over and over, Duncan Jones is ready to move to the city. Moon was great, Source Code is highly anticipated, and Jones is already looking to the future. Far into the future. According to We Got This Covered, the director wants to homage Blade Runner by setting his next film in a city of the future. The man gets to do an intimate psychological drama with Sam Rockwell, tap into time travel, and now he paves his own way to filmically celebrate an iconic sci-fi favorite? It’s official. Duncan Jones is a replicant.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this shit late at night, what do you expect?

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If you want to be one of the first people on the planet to see Mel Gibson with a puppet on his hand and a psychological block on his brain, you’ll want to head down to SXSW this year. In fact, you might want to be there anyway because 1) there are always some stellar movies 2) there’s a great gyro place right down the street and 3) we’ll be there. The Beaver will get its world premiere there, as will Paul. Two highly anticipated movies that will have their first real audiences before seeing wide release later in the Spring. The rest of the list (of films so far announced) includes a ghostly thriller from Ti West, Conan O’Brien’s ability to go all night long, and proof that John Melloncamp still exists. All of these films will join the ranks of the opening night movie – Source Code.

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Hope springs eternal. As we round the bases of another year, it’s important to let the average and outright crappy slough off and realize that we’re all standing on the precipice of another year of movies. The future stretches out before us full of possibilities. That cheesy trailer you saw last week could end up producing your favorite film of the year. That epic blockbuster you’ve been waiting for could be bigger than you ever imagined. There’s hope for everything, but there’s also expectation, which is why Rob Hunter, Neil Miller and Cole Abaius painstakingly put together our list of the 30 Most Anticipated Films of 2011. It’s the stuff we’re most looking forward to this year, put together when our hope and optimism is at its peak.

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Last year, David Bowie’s son directed a film about Sam Rockwell being stranded all alone on the other side of the moon while his equipment and his mind fell apart. It was brilliant. That’s why it’s so exciting to see that his new film Source Code will be premiering as the opening night gala feature for the SXSW Film Festival in March 2011. The film focuses on a government program that allows agents to enter into the bodies of other people in the last moments of their lives. The program is used to make Jake Gyllenhaal relive a horrific train bombing over and over again until he can stop it from happening. The official synopsis from the SXSW press release is as follows:

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The Week That Was

Welcome to another scorching edition of The Week That Was. As you may have gleaned from our articles about terrible honeymoon spots and our lack of posting any weekend articles (including this day-late entry into our weekly recap series), a few of us went out into the wilderness to watch Cole Abaius tie the knot. It was adorable, he and his bride will surely be happy and she even agreed to watch movies with him (even the scary ones). We drank, we went skeet shooting, we drank some more and in the end, we had a wonderful time helping the man who has often been referred to as “the glue that holds FSR together” off into the world of marriage. That said, even though Dr. Abaius was off work this week in preparation for the big day, we did have all kinds of things buzzing on the ole site this past week. Here’s a quick round-up.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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