The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Twisting in time and space never grows old

with 12 comments

I’ve always been fascinated with art that takes the concept of time and space and turns it inside out. You can’t quite follow the logic, getting every puzzle piece in the right place, and that’s not the point of it. You’re not expected to understand. All you need to do is to accept it as a different sort of reality, oblige to suspension of your disbelief, just enjoying the beauty, the coolness and the wonder.

It must have started with the printings of M.C. Escher hanging on the walls at home when I was a child. I watched the people walking up and down in stairs at the same time, defying all laws of nature and I watched the strange möbius strips, twisting and turning in a ways I couldn’t figure out.

Somehow they represented optimism and hope, showing that the things we think are impossible in fact aren’t. It’s just a matter of perspective. Life is full of possibilities; it’s just that we don’t always see them right away.

With this background I don’t think it comes as a surprise that movies that play with time and space are so well represented on my top-100 list of movies. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Truman Show, 12 Monkeys, Minority Report,Brazil, The Matrix, Groundhog Day, Being John Malcovitch, Inception, they’re all there. And I don’t think I’d ever have loved Star Trek as much if it wasn’t for the episodes with a “be careful when you mess with the timeline” theme.

Judging from this, Source Code, with its plot about a guy who’s re-experiencing the same eight minutes over and over again, trying to figure out who put the bomb in the train, should suit me well. And it did. I found myself quite engaged, thrilled and well entertained throughout the entire movie, never paying attention to any other time than the race-against-the-clock inside the film.

One Swedish critic said that it had “some of the coolness of Inception and the atmosphere of 12 Monkeys. And a good filmic idea from Groundhog Day, thoroughly darkened and tweaked, with quant physical explanations.” Another critic – less enthusiastic – thought that it turned repetitive after a while, more resembling to “Robocop meets Back to the Future”.

I’m more on the line with the one who liked it, even though it won’t quite qualify for my top 100 list. It would have needed a little bit more darkness and depth to take a spot among my favourite time & space twisters.

I don’t think the way they tell the story is bad, but the quick pace just doesn’t allow for much philosophical brooding over things, even though Jake Gyllenhaal does a wonderful performance, making his character into something more than just a shallow standard save-the-world hero.

And then there’s the end, which has been targeted for quite a bit of criticism. Yes, I agree with those who think that you could easily have ended the movie about five minutes earlier, making it more interesting, logical and still beautiful and fulfilling,  But it’s no worse than I can live with it. Maybe it’s what it takes to keep the movie commercially viable, and if so, sure, go ahead.

All in all I couldn’t complain. I got a lovely night of twisting in time and space, just as I had hoped for.

That’s the magic about Escher’s paintings too. They never grow old. 

Source Code (Jones,US, 2011) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

August 15, 2011 at 1:00 am

Posted in Source Code

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12 Responses

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  1. It’s good to hear that Source Code is worth seeing. I’m planning to watch it in a few weeks in my time-travel marathon. I’m also a big fan of pretty much all the movies you listed, and the Escher staircases are fascinating. Nice post.

    Dan Heaton

    August 15, 2011 at 5:25 am

  2. Thanks. Yes, I thought it was worth seeing. This said, it’s not deep, it’s not immensely creative or special, not one of those movies that you’ll remember the rest of your life but it’s a piece of good entertainment for those who are into time-travel stories. And sometimes that’s all you ask for.


    August 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  3. Timey-whimey stuff is often something I enjoy as well (and Escher, personal favourites being the two hands drawing each other and some of the colored lizard-pair-tile ones).

    I’m sorry for asking a non-movie question (and probably a quite common response to this part of your movie likings), but do you enjoy Doctor Who? The story going from an episode two or three seasons back and being at the punchline of the latest episode, of the doctor and his love/wife(?), who are both travelling in time but in oposite direction to each other (the first time they meet for him is the last time she sees him), has really been a blast to follow, I think.


    August 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    • Oh, I love those images as well. My parents had a huge book with a ton of his graphics in it and I never grew tired of looking at them.

      About Doctor Who, to be honest I have never watched it. I feel a bit embarrassed about this, how could it be, me, an sf fan? But the thing is that Dr Who was never big in Sweden. I’m not sure it’s even been broadcasted, at least not in the major channels. Actually this was the topic for one of the panels at the sci-fi convention Eurocon, which was held in Stockholm earlier this year. We had a lot of UK members of the convention and the panel included some brits talking about their love for the phenomenon as well as some Swedes trying to explain why it never became any hit here.

      Anyway, I can’t tell if I’d like it or not. But I’ve watched and enjoyed some SF series in the past, particularly different versions of Star Trek of course. One that I remember fondly is another brittish one, Space: 1999. I recently revisited a few episodes, and while it now felt incredibly, amazingly slow, it still had some of the charm I remembered.


      August 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      • No reason to be embarassed 🙂 (if you do, I’ll have to hide over in the corner, confessing that I’ve only read Do androids dream of electric sheep, but not yet seen the movie… I know I have some very nice things yet to experience).

        But it sounds like you would have a blast if you at some point pick up Doctor Who. There is a distinct leap each time the Doctor reincarnates (change of actor), so you could pick up the last one and a half season, but all the stuff they made from 2005 (when they started making it again) is nice. And you need some of the former Doctor’s episodes to get the full lovestory – it is not the main storyline, but it is on and off from a beginning in the episode called Silence in the Library. There was something incredibly bittersweet when we get to the first time the Doctor kisses the woman (we follow his timeline), or, first time we see her kiss him, and he is very surprised, telling her it is the first time. And suddenly we see her face as she realises she will never get to kiss him again. *snif*


        August 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm

        • Oh, I hope you’ll enjoy Blade Runner. It contains one of my favorite scenes of all movies ever made. Some classical lines… oh well, I think you’ll know what I’m referring to when you get to it.

          I definitely have some catching up to do regarding Doctor Who! I’ll keep my eyes open if it pops up somewhere.


          August 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm

          • I am pretty sure I will enjoy it 🙂 I think the reason I haven’t already seen it is that I somehow missed out when my friends saw it originally (when younger I tended to prefer books to movies due to getting scared a bit by movies quite often), and then it was embarrasing not to have seen it, and now I’m old enough to instead look forward to seeing it. I should get to that one soon 🙂


            August 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm

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