The Mindy Project – “We’re a Couple Now, Haters!”

September 17, 2014

Season Three, Episode One

mindy-project-were-a-couple

Grade: B

In sitcoms, when you have the main characters romantically linked early on in a show’s run, that usually leads to a lot of creative problems for the writers. In most (or all) cases, the tension building up to the moment is a lot more fun than when you finally get there. New Girl was great before Jess and Nick decided to date, once Jim and Pam (The Office) dated and got married their story-line was shot, and so on. So with a show that’s geared directly towards being a romantic-comedy sitcom, what’s next? Doesn’t the movie usually end once the main characters finally get together?

Mindy and Danny are still in their honeymoon phase, which involves a lot of smiles and sex. Unfortunately, while Danny likes to keep what happens in the bedroom private, Mindy likes to blurt to everyone about how incredible their sex life is. Naturally, this results in their first (of many for the foreseeable future) fight as a couple, but things go much deeper than anticipated.

After Mindy commits to Danny that she wouldn’t talk about their sex life, she stumbles upon a pink thong in his drawer. He’s embarrassed but Mindy assures him it’s okay to keep certain things from exes. One assumption leads to another and Mindy goes from believing the thong is one of Danny’s exes, to a stripper, finally to the result that the thong is for a male stripper and most likely Danny’s! Ah, how the plot thickens.

Meanwhile, Peter and Lauren’s relationship is threatened when Jeremy and Lauren kiss after spending so much time together planning a charity event. I’m not positive about how long this love-triangle story-line will play out for, but I guess it’s a decent B-story for the time being. And then there’s Morgan, who absolutely steals the episode with his hilarious one-liners, plus his Cousin Lou (Rob McElhenney from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Morgan is the perfect blend of a ridiculous human being with a soft heart and compliments the other characters extremely well.

So where does The Mindy Project go from here? How rocky will Mindy and Danny’s relationship be this season? Is it going to shadow Jess and Nick’s bumpy road from New Girl’s third season? Or will it try to do something spectacular by breaking the trend and giving us some new insight to a successful sitcom couple? For now, they’re off to a pretty good start, but there is a lot to build on from here.


New Girl – “The Last Wedding”

September 17, 2014

Season Four, Episode One

new-girl-last-wedding

Grade: A-

The third season of New Girl was rocky, primarily due to Nick and Jess’ roller-coaster relationship inevitably leaving them contemplating if they could recapture the friendship they once had. It was a questionable decision for the show-runners to throw Nick and Jess together so quickly and so passionately, but we have seemed to weather that storm and now, for better or worse, Nick and Jess are back to being friends in great sitcom style. And that’s a good thing because when these characters aren’t involved with anyone, that’s when they can really shine through their silly one-liners and shenanigans.

So the gang are all single, including Cece who admits to Jess that she and Buster broke up. Also, we’re four months past the season three finale, and apparently all summer the gang have been attending weddings together, because that’s plausible or something. But it does set up a great plot for this episode: Schmidt wants everyone to score at the final wedding of the summer! Or as Jess puts it, she wants everyone to sex-fist their way through the reception.

At the wedding, Jess attempts to make a move on the best man, Ted (the hilarious Reid Scott of Veep) but has direct competition with Kat, played by the lovely Jessica Biel. Meanwhile, Coach, who has been very successful throughout the summer of weddings, has fallen into a trap when a handful of women he’s slept with are at the last wedding, usually leaving him with wine all over his suit. And then there’s the Schmidt and Nick duo who are discussing the possibility of a four-way. While it’s clear that Schmidt wants the four-way more than Nick, Nick is willing to do anything for his friend to get Cece off of his mind… even if that does include being in a “fog of war.”

What works about the season four premiere is that the gang are all single again, meaning they’re open to a lot more things and don’t have the consequences for their stupid actions. This is where New Girl is as its funniest. Oh, and it’s nice to have you back again, Schmidt. After your terrible love triangle story-line of last season, it’s great to see you ogling Cece again, though the whole “Cece is a goddess” thing isn’t going to work since you two have already done it dozens of times. Anyway, the silly is restored in New Girl but most importantly, so is the heart.

The bathroom scene between Nick and Jess was a reminder to us of why we loved this show from the beginning. Their chemistry and close bond is the perfect compromise with the whacky story-lines throughout every episode, and it’s great to see them so close again. Though this all only happens through TV magic, because no one can become best friends like that again after going through a tough break-up the way they did with each other, but for the show’s sake I’ll forgive them.

So while no one ended up going home with anyone from the wedding, they didn’t return to the loft lonely because they all had each other. Cheesy yes, but it’s the New Girl formula that simply works. And I loved the symbolic gesture of decluttering the refrigerator from all the wedding invitations. Let’s hope these characters remain single for a long time because it’s proven that when they start to date and settle down, so does the show.

New Girl Character Ratings:

Here’s something I’ll be doing every week, grading each individual character based on their involvement every episode.

Jess (B): She starts off with a bang because of her “sex fist” gag, but gets run over by Kat trying to win over Ted. I love Zooey, but having her stand next to the gorgeous Jessica Biel didn’t do her any favors. But it was great to see her and Nick rekindle their friendship while sitting in the men’s room.

Nick (A): The tap shoes were a brilliant ongoing joke, and one that fits his character perfectly. And it’s great how he tried to distract Schmidt from Cece by wanting to go through with the four-some, until Schmidt touched his hoof-hands. The icing on the cake was his attempt at a playful joke towards an engaged couple, “I hope they can’t have kids!”

Schmidt (A): The return of Schmidt was a delight, giving New Girl the much needed boost of one-liners. “It makes me angry and scared all at the same time, just like when I hear the phrase ‘Academy Award winner Anna Paquin.” – “I’m soft like a lady, you won’t even know.” – plus his great physical comedy when he’s trying not to do anything weird after talking with Cece.

Cece (C+): She’s broken up with Buster so that tension between her and Schmidt is back! Just that news alone is enough to give her the MVP of the episode, but other than that she’s practically invisible, aside from being absolutely beautiful. Hmm, I think I was harsh with my grade.

Winston (B-): Winston is sore from all his police training, but he does have a hilarious scene demonstrating to Schmidt and Nick using the salt and pepper shaker. Oh, and he also said this gem, “The only thing I want in my mouth is Mr. and Mrs. I.B. Profen, minus the Mr.”

Coach (C): Every girl that Coach talks to at the wedding, he’s already hooked up with. That’s impressive and extremely unlucky at the same time. Unfortunatley, that’s his only role this episode.


Interstellar Poster

September 16, 2014

For those who are as excited as I am for this film, here’s a look at the poster:

interstellar-poster

Chris Nolan has not let me down yet, and I don’t anticipate that Insterstellar will be his first dud. This film has the potential of being great.


The Leftovers – “The Prodigal Son Returns”

September 8, 2014

Season One, Episode Ten

the-leftovers-prodigal-son4Grade: A

If you’re looking for answers then you’re watching the wrong show. It seemed clear from almost the very beginning that The Leftovers was never going to offer any type of explanation about how or why the people who disappeared did so. And for some people, that’s insanely frustrating. It brings back memories of how mysteries were left unanswered in that Lindelof and Cuse show from a few years back, but The Leftovers is a different breed of mystery. What the show is trying to say is that there are no answers to those unexplained phenomenons. What’s important is what happens next and how your feelings will drive you forward.

After the flashback episode we’re thrown back into the moments following Patti’s death. There are some brilliant shots here and without any words we feel what Kevin’s feeling. It’s a mixture of desperation and confusion on what to do next. He calls Matt and he arrives as soon as he can and helps Kevin dig himself out of that mess. Then comes our first great scene of the episode: Kevin reading from the book of Job before burying Patti’s body in the woods.

the-leftovers-prodigal-sonIf I haven’t said this enough, Justin Theroux pumps so much life into Kevin Jr., it’s a shame he’s not getting more recognition. Theroux reads the passage that Kevin obviously doesn’t believe in, but he’s incapable of holding back his tears as he’s slowly being broken down to that moment in the diner when he reveals to Matt why he truly thinks he wasn’t taken on Oct. 14 (which is another great scene from the finale). Why wasn’t he taken? Because he wanted to leave his family? Because he had sex with a woman he didn’t know? Because he’s not a good man? And he continues to remember back to that day and when he returned home, his family was there worrying about him and all he wanted to do right then and there was hold his family and keep them close. And that’s what he’s been trying to do ever since, but to little success. Tommy’s been gone, Laurie’s with the GR, and even though Jill lives in the same house she’s as distant as can be.

Meanwhile, Tommy goes through a crisis when Christine abandons her baby. Is that the last we’ll see of Christine? Probably, but it’s more a relief that the Tommy/Christine/Wayne story-line has come to an end. It has easily been the worst plot of the first season, but in the finale it all seems to come around full circle. That’s because after Kevin opens up to Matt, he sees Holy Wayne in the bathroom with an open wound and intestines popping out of his gut. I assume that Holy Wayne was one of the more frustrating points for people who dislike The Leftovers. Is he for real? Is he a phony? What’s his point? But when he asks for Kevin to make a wish, his face lights up as he tells Kevin that his wish is granted. And then a SWAT team busts through the diner and drags Wayne away.

All of this, the rebirth of Kevin from a man who knew he was bad, to a man who tried to hide the fact he was bad just to be good, to a man who now understands he craves to become a good man, it all leads up to the defining scene of the finale. At this point, Kevin and Matt just want to return home to something normal again, but what they confront is a Mapleton that has been thrown into chaos.

Without Patti, Laurie still agrees to carry through with the stunt of placing those Loved Ones bodies at all of the vanished homes. Though Carrie Coon didn’t have many scenes, she might’ve given the best performance with her mute screams of agony when she sees the replicas of her family sitting at the kitchen table. It’s surely a cruel thing to witness, having family members you’ve lost replaced by life-sized dolls wearing the same clothes. But it’s the whole purpose of the GR, to make sure no one forgets what happened. I’d say they achieved that.

the-leftovers-prodigal-son3While the town turns on the GR, shooting at them, tying them up and beating them, Kevin quickly turns on the cop-mode, throws on a vest, grabs a gun and tries to help out the GR. It’s clear that not even the police want to help out the GR at this point because everything that is happening to them they brought it onto themselves, but Laurie is still one of them so that forces Kevin in. And then after Kevin rescues Laurie from a man dragging her, she speaks her first words since joining the GR. “JILL!” She points inside the burning house and it doesn’t take Kevin too long to realize that his daughter is in great trouble.

These final minutes of the episode are shot perfectly. From the chaos in the streets to the burning wreckage of the GR community, and finally the after-math of it all. Kevin saves Jill and she hugs him back as they both glare at Laurie with disbelief she let that happen to Jill. The voiceover from Nora about to leave Kevin is incredibly heart-breaking, as those two seem to be the only two people who can save each other. But just as she’s about to drop off the letter, she picks up Christine’s baby that has been left on Kevin’s porch. And then something clicked inside of Nora. Holding that baby gave Nora a reason to smile and a reason to stay. Kevin, Jill, and the dog that bit Kevin in one of his blackouts are now united as Kevin’s wish is granted. Finally, he has a family.

Last but not least:

- The expression on Matt’s face when Kevin tells him that the woman he was having sex with disappeared was priceless.

- Tommy returns to town to drop off the baby, but he also sees his mom as she stared at the memorial. Will Tommy stay for good?

- What are we supposed to make of Kevin’s “dream”? Whatever the case, it was disturbing.

- What I love about this show is how it makes you feel. Not how many questions are answered, but how these characters try to keep living after such a tragedy. Whether it’s the “abandoned ruin of a dead civilization” like Nora penned, there is always something worth living for and everyone has to find that. Is it possible for Nora and Kevin to find that with each other? That’s what we have Season 2 for!


Movies Left to Watch in 2014

August 28, 2014

It’s been a good year so far in the world of cinema. I usually like to break up the calendar year into three movie phases. First, there is the Oscars hangover phase that usually deliver films that didn’t screen well for the awards season (like Monuments Men) and then films that didn’t want to compete with the summer blockbusters. There’s usually one film that sneaks in the first phase and comes out a real winner, but this year we had two: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The LEGO Movie.

The second phase is the summer blockbuster phase, and it’s the season that makes all the money. Guardians of the Galaxy is on its way to becoming the biggest film of the year, and movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction, Maleficent, and X-Men: Days of Future Past aren’t too far behind. This phase also has its fair share of independent gems, such as this year’s Boyhood. For the public, this is the phase of movies they’ll remember the most, even though almost every films is some kind of sequel or reboot.

And finally, the third phase (and my favorite phase) the awards season. Typically, the awards bait films are released towards the end of the calendar year so these specific films remain fresh in Academy members’ minds. But after being brainwashed by a million ads from expensive movies all summer long, it’s easy to have no idea what films are coming out this fall/winter. That’s what I’m here for! Below are the films I’m looking for:

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (9/12)

the-disappearance-eleanor-rigbyThe trailer intrigued me the first time I saw it. Starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, this film revolves around this young couple and how they try to will themselves to stay together after a tragedy strikes. This isn’t going to be a romantic-comedy, but instead a powerful film focused on their relationship. Last year at the Toronto Film Festival, two separate films in the perspective of the two characters were released and both were well received. This version will be a collaboration of both films, but if you want to check out the two separate films they will be released in October.

Gone Girl (10/3)

gone-girl-photoHow many times has David Fincher done us wrong? Not many, and Gillian Flynn’s crime thriller is a perfect match for Fincher’s style. Sure, Ben Affleck wouldn’t be at the top of my list to play Nick Dunne, but he is a superstar and will surely fill the seats with those who haven’t read the best-selling novel. Can this be the film where Fincher finally wins an Oscar?

Whiplash (10/10)

whiplashMiles Teller is arguably my favorite young actor in the business and in Whiplash he’ll take on a whole new territory in acting. He plays a young drummer who is pushed to the limit by an abusive instructor at a prestigious music school. That instructor is played by JK Simmons. The trailer captures the intensity of the plot and you can already see the chemistry that Teller and Simmons have in the movie. This one should definitely be on your radar.

Fury (10/17)

fury-filmStarring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf, this is a period war film that has a lot of potential. Written and directed by David Ayer, this film follows his acclaimed movie End of Watch from 2012. Ayer seems to be at home with cop-thrillers as he’s written films like Harsh Times, S.W.A.T., Training Day, and The Fast and the Furious. If anything, Fury should be entertaining.

Birdman (10/17)

birdman-filmOne of my favorite directors is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, 21 Grams, Amores Perros). His new film stars Michael Keaton as a washed up superhero trying to reclaim his fame. Let’s forget that Keaton did play Batman back in the day, this film seems odd but just odd enough for Inarritu to really dig his teeth into. Also, rounding out the film’s cast are Ed Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts and Amy Ryan.

St. Vincent (10/24)

st-vincent-movieIf you’re looking for a good laugh, St. Vincent might be the perfect option. Starring Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray as neighbors, Murray winds up babysitting McCarthy’s 12-year-old son. Yes you guessed it, Murray plays a hedonistic, war veteran. This one will most certainly have a handful of hilarious moments, though I’m skeptical if it will be well-received by all.

Interstellar (11/7)

interstellar-photoChris Nolan. Is there anything else that needs to be said? But there’s more… a pretty well-known actor named Matthew McConaughey! Though I’m not sure what the movie is about yet, it does have something to do with space. Chris Nolan and a space movie? Who wouldn’t be excited about that?! Plus Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain are in the film. After Gravity’s major splash at last year’s Oscars, will Interstellar receive the same praise?

A Most Violent Year (11/12)

a-most-violent-yearSet during the winter of 1981 in New York City, this thriller is sure to grab your attention once it’s released. Once again, Jessica Chastain is starring (does she ever take a break?!) alongside Oscar Isaac, who was brilliant in Inside Llewyn Davis. Directed by J.C. Chandor, I loved the first two films he’s directed (Margin Call, All is Lost) and I’m hoping this makes it three.

Foxcatcher (11/14)

foxcatcher-photoThis film received plenty of praise at the Cannes Festival, but was pushed away from last year’s Oscar season. This year it’s looking to be a serious contender about the U.S. wrestler Mark Schultz and the schizophrenic John du Pont. Starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, and directed by Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote), this is one drama you won’t want to miss.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (11/21)

hunger-games-mockingjayI don’t know about you, but I love The Hunger Games series. It performs at the box office like a summer blockbuster, but it’s more than that. With as all-star cast led by the beautiful and talented Jennifer Lawrence, it has action, drama, suspense, and political messages to boot. This is the beginning of the end, with the last book being split into two. I’m ready for the rebellion!

Wild (12/5)

wild-movieAre you ready for a tour de force bio-pic starring Reese Witherspoon? Wild is the story of a woman’s solo journey traveling over 1,000 miles. And while I love Witherspoon in her Legally Blonde days, she’s much better when tackling challenging roles like June Carter in Walk the Line and Juniper in Mud. Oh, did I mention this is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club). As you can see, this has a lot of potential.

Inherent Vice (12/12)

inherent-vice-photoOne of my favorite directors is Paul Thomas Anderson, so his new film is obviously one that I’m looking forward to. He’s re-teaming up with Joaquin Phoenix again, which is even better news! The film is set in 1970’s Los Angeles and is about a P.I. investigating the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend. Yeah, this one is going to be good.

Into the Woods (12/25)

into-the-woodsThis is a classic musical that won Tony awards not only for its original Broadway show, but also for its revival. If that’s not impressive enough for you, the screen-adaptation is directed by Rob Marshall, known for directed musicals such as Nine and Chicago. On top of that, it’s starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, and James Corden. Now are you interested? You should be!

Unbroken (12/25)

unbroken-movieHere’s a true story about an Olympic runner who enlists in the army and is captured and tortured for years. It’s not going to be your family-friendly Christmas movie, but with Angelina Jolie as director, with a screenplay by the Coen brothers and the cinematography by the legendary Roger Deakins, this has all the working parts in becoming an Oscar favorite.

The Interview (12/25)

the-interview-movieIn case you want to take a break from all the heavy dramas during awards season, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg have just the movie for you. The Interview is about a celebrity TV host and his producer who go undercover by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un after he gives them rights to an exclusive interview. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but with Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This is the End, shouldn’t we all just be really excited for this film? Because I am!


The Leftovers – “The Garveys At Their Best”

August 26, 2014

Season One, Episode Nine

the-leftovers-garveys-at-best

Grade: A

The Leftovers ended last week’s episode with a bomb, showing Jill walking through the doors of The Guilty Remnant and seeing Laurie’s expression. Leading up to this week’s episode, I was very excited to see where that was going to lead to and I was completely anticipating Kevin to go bat-shit crazy. But we don’t get that. Instead, we’re treated to a flashback episode that opened up brilliantly. Kevin’s jogging around town, sneaking a smoke from under a mailbox. He finally reaches home and walks into a beautiful, obviously expensive house. He has a conversation with a woman in the background deliberately blurred out. We know it’s not the Garvey house we’ve seen. It sort of looked like Nora’s house, since we know she does have a lot of money, but it’s not certain. Then as the woman comes into frame, we see it’s Laurie. We couldn’t have recognized her voice, but the reveal was great. And so I smiled and thought, it’s time for a flashback episode.

“The Garveys At Their Best” is such an interesting look at how things were just a few days before the Oct. 14 departure. Kevin Sr. is the police chief and he’s so respected that he’s won the Man of the Year award in town. But specifically focusing on Kevin Jr. and Laurie, their marriage is sure in a rut. It might not seem that way at first, but there is something off that’s not clear but is evident. That doesn’t stop them from loving their children. It was a delight to see Jill so close to her mom, and how Tommy was a huge part of the family. They looked like any normal family, doing things they don’t want, talking about adopting a puppy, driving to school, and saving their asses when one of them gets in trouble. They’re not perfect, but no family is. The Garveys are together and they’re your normal family.

After we’ve seen everyone smile a few times, we get into what this episode truly represents, which is how even before the disappearance everyone was still unhappy. Kevin and Laurie have obvious problems; Patti is seeking therapy from Laurie; Tommy is going through letting go his biological father; Nora is trying to get a job while dealing with her annoying children; and Kevin is all kinds of messed up. So what’s the point? Is the show saying that we’d rather be miserable with the ones we’re supposed to love, rather than be miserable alone? Is the worldwide event supposed to unite everyone? Or is it saying that before and after, you’re the same person. Whether you were the type of person to hide from the pain and suppress the feelings or the type that tackled it head on and did something about it, you’re the same.

And then there’s the deer, which holds more importance than simply a loose deer causing havoc around town. The chief wants to put it down but Kevin wants to save it. We’ve already had close-ups with deer from the show through Kevin. A deer tore through the Garvey kitchen and a pack of dogs attacked and killed a deer. So what’s the situation here? What does the deer represent? I think it represents the part inside him that’s afraid to break free from everything he knows. It’s the part that his dad talked to him about, his greater purpose and allowing the voices to dictate what he’s supposed to do. The deer keeps getting trapped inside of places, and while everyone else wants to shoot it dead, Kevin wants to save it and set it free. Will he stop trying to keep his inner demons hidden and soon let them free?

In a way, this was just as a depressing episode as any in The Leftovers. Seeing the way of life that every character misses: Nora with her family, Kevin with Laurie, Jill with her parents and Tommy, etc. And yet, all of these things that our characters miss, they all weren’t that great. And in those moments leading up to when 2% disappears, Kevin drives an out-of-towner to her hotel after she’s traumatized from killing the deer with her car. “Are you a good guy?” Kevin hesitates but answers, “No.” He knows it. So while he should’ve been by Laurie’s side at the doctor’s, she didn’t trust him enough to tell him the fact that she’s pregnant (though it seems like it might not have been Kevin’s).

Then we get to see the moment everyone disappears. We’ve already seen Reverend Jamison with his wife, and the woman who’s baby goes missing. But we finally see Kevin with the out-of-towner when she disappears. Jill and Tommy holding hands in a circle when a student vanishes, breaking their electrical charge. And the most shocking, the baby inside Laurie disappears (and likely without Kevin ever knowing about the child). It’s a powerful moment on The Leftovers. Needless to say, if this happened to us our lives would completely be turned upside-down too.

With one episode left to the first season, I’m excited to see what The Leftovers will leave us hanging with. Does Jill want to be a part of the GR or does she just want to speak with her mom? What is Kevin going to do now that Patti is dead? How will the community react when the GR pulls their latest stunt with the help from The Loved Ones? What is the next step for Tommy, Christine, and Wayne? Unfortunately, we have to wait two weeks.

Last but not least:

- “Sometimes you just have to pretend.”
- Patti sensed that something big was about to happen, but when she asks if Laurie feels it inside of her, she says that she feels nothing.
- Kevin pulls off a balloon saying “It’s a Girl!” from the deer. If he only knew.


Flickchart Battle: Captain Phillips (2013) vs. Source Code (2011)

August 22, 2014

flickchart-phillips-source

This post contains spoilers.

In this week’s match-up we have two outstanding films. In one corner, we have a based on a true story, drama-thriller starring Tom Hanks as the captain who was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean. In the other corner, we have a sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal who plays a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man on a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. Let’s get it on!

I loved Captain Phillips. I knew I was going to like it but I didn’t know I was going to love it. Tom Hanks was on a pretty bad stretch for a while, with movies I didn’t particularly care for such as Angels & Demons (2009), Larry Crowne (2011), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) and Cloud Atlas (2012). But what Captain Phillips had besides an incredible story was Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93). And with Greengrass, Hanks gives his best performance in a very long time.

What I loved about the film so much was how incredible its balance was. Not only did we get a look inside the ship and Captain Phillips’ ordering drills to prepare themselves for an attack, we get to see the pirates’ side of the story and how they saw the opportunity to hijack an American freighter as a gold mine. Even when they find out they were wrong, they knew they were too deep in the job to back out. It became a mission they would take to the grave. I never thought it would be possible to feel sympathy for the pirates, but an excellent performance by Barkhad Abdi made it happen.

While Captain Phillips was truly a thrilling film, Source Code was just as suspenseful but in a more entertaining fashion. Don’t let that fool you though, because as entertaining as Source Code is, it’s also an intelligent film that offers a look on the casualties of war, technology, and how thin the moral line can be. Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) goes through a Groundhog Day-like event where he keeps reliving the same eight minutes over and over again. Within these eight minutes in the Source Code experimental project, he’s supposed to track down the person who bombed the train in order to stop an even larger bombing planned in a few hours.

What separates Source Code from other blockbusters is its layers. We learn about the urgency of this mission alongside Captain Stevens, but during his first few attempts we’re able to establish a real relationship between Stevens and Christina Warren (Monoghan), a woman he’s traveling with. On top of the mission and the relationship, there is also the question of who’s in charge of this mission, how it’s being operated, and what happened to Captain Stevens’ last memory when he was in Afghanistan. This film is packed with suspense and turns, and it does a magnificent job with its satisfying conclusion (even though it doesn’t entirely make sense).

So which movie is the winner? This is a tough choice for me to make because I love both films. The acting edge definitely goes to Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, but in the director race I’ll have to say it’s pretty darn even. Sure, Greengrass got more acclaim, but the techniques that Duncan Jones used to balance multiple story-lines in a way that wasn’t confusing for the audience are just great. While Captain Phillips is based on this remarkable true story, I always have a soft spot for time bending, sci-fi plots.

With a match-up this close, I can only make a decision by analyzing how each film made me feel at its conclusion. For Source Code, we really get invested between Captain Stevens and Christina Warren, so to have this alternate universe created where Stevens prevents the bomb from going off is very satisfying. And I loved the whole “What would you do if you knew you had less than one minute to live?” question throughout. In the end, not only does Stevens get the girl but he also saves the world. As pleasing as this conclusion is, Captain Phillips simply punches you right in the gut and then sends tears pouring out of your eyes. It all builds up to the point when the Navy SEALs take out the pirates and then Tom Hanks works his magic and gives a devastating reaction while being looked at by a doctor. It’s impossible not to feel for Captain Phillips and all the trauma he just went through. The film does a great job with such a powerful ending.

So that’s my pick. Captain Phillips by a tight margin. This is one case where I’d likely pick Source Code to watch more often, but the sheer weight of Captain Phillips gives it the edge.

Winner: Captain Phillips


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