Apr 11

Film 20h!!: Dunkin Donuts On A Train

Do You See13 comments • 1,306 views

I’ve seen 68 films this year and have written about 3 of them. Lets see if I can catch up

3: Source Code (cinema)

source-code-movie-poster*Source Code is a very confident confection of idiocy. Duncan Jones has hit what works (make a modern sci-fi film with a grab bag raid of seventies stylings) and from the stabbing Bernard Hermann-esque chords over the VISIT CHICAGO intro you are thrown into this nonsense head on. And like any good liar, Jones understands there is the moment, the nonsense premise moment, when your entire film can be destroyed. Here the Groundhog Day meets Deja Vu plot is explained in one simple line: “Quantum calculus, slight electrical brainwave activity after death – every second we explain it to you we waste valuable time!”** Delivered straight faced and then back into the action.

Source Code is one of those timey-wimey (not timey-wimey) films which are wholly consistent within themselves, since all they need to be consistent with is “Quantum calculus, slight electrical brainwave activity after death”. Very little of it stands up as something that makes sense unless you consider that these are the actions of a befuddled, slightly brain dead person. But its entertaining, tight, intelligent when its not being dumb and – and –

I’m sorry. I cannot get over the brief moment where there appeared to be a Dunkin Donuts concession on the double decker commuter train. I do not know if Dunkin Donuts has such concessions on commuter trains, though bear in mind that I don’t think I have ever seen a buffet carriage on a suburban commuter train anywhere this stood out. I have used an Amtrak Dining Car in my time, wnich might have pimped Budwiser heavily, but a Donut concession on the train. Its possible. But more far-fetched that the ending of Source Code (an ending which requires an excellent Vera Farmiga to sell, which she does despite its shonkiness).

*I don’t think this is an official poster, but its nicer than the real ones. I found it here:
**Line may not be accurate, sentiment is.


  1. 1
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2011 #

    knew that poster had to be Ollie Moss. check out his others on Flickr.

  2. 2
    swanstep on 6 Apr 2011 #

    Excellent poster. Hits the Saul Bass nerve to go along with Herrmannish music and sharp, Lehman-ish script prestidigitations you describe. I confess to looking forward to this film enormously. NbNW in the Matrix? (Maybe Hitch’s cameo could be as one iteration of the Dunkin Donut seller) I’m there with Quantum bells on.

  3. 3
    Mark M on 7 Apr 2011 #

    I’m still pondering how the sci-fi thriller went from being associated with stuff like Timecop to being the default genre of the moment. It’s not something I’m happy about in any way. I have heard good things about Source Code, but I’m still highly sceptical. I was half-tempted by The Adjustment Bureau, but never got round to it. Probably just as well.

    My feeling about 2011 in films on the whole is that it has been the year of ‘enjoyable, but disappointing’ (and I wish I’d seen more than just three films in the NFT’s Howard Hawks season).

  4. 4

    I blame it all on Baudrillard

  5. 5
    Tom on 7 Apr 2011 #

    #3 I was assuming the popularity of suit-fi was down to Inception but the lead times are way too short for it, all this stuff must have been sparked by something else.

  6. 6
    swanstep on 7 Apr 2011 #

    I’m not sure that sci-fi thrillers are any sort of default right now unless you count all of the endless superhero/comic book films as sci fi (I don’t). Still, Philip K. Dick continues to be directly and indirectly mined (e.g., Ubik w/ Gondry directing is currently in pre-production), and Charlie Kaufmann has been *the* preeminent original screen-writer of the last ten years (he’s probably the s/writer more recent graduates want to be than any other). Lots of loosely sci-fi stuff with dramatic and thriller elements is what one would predict given these two ongoing strong influences.

  7. 7
    logged-out Tracer Hand on 7 Apr 2011 #

    Matrix + Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind + time necessary to get scripts written, pitched, financed and made = 2011

  8. 8
    Mark M on 7 Apr 2011 #

    Re 4: And rightly so.

    Re 6: Every time I went to the cinema earlier in the year I seemed to trailers for this, The Adjustment Bureau and Limitless… three’s a trend, right? And even Jodie Foster’s meant to be directing one.

    Apart from what’s been said above, I’d suggest possible contributing factors:

    – We’ve got CGI, we might as well use it.

    – The role of organised internet-based fan groups.

    I’m generally pro-Charlie Kaufman, it’s Christopher Nolan I can’t tolerate.

  9. 9
    Pete on 7 Apr 2011 #

    I hope to talk about the Adjustment Bureau soon (it was enjoyable but disappointing). My gut feeling has been in 2011 that a lot of films have had something really great in them (an idea, a turn, some millinery) but the overall films have been a bit ho-hum. Interestingly the surprising trend in the recent sci-fi batch is trying to fuse more romance, so i think the Kaufmann angle of Eli’s equation may well be right.

  10. 10
    Ewan on 7 Apr 2011 #

    I did really like the ‘Quantum Leap’ moment near the start where he looked at himself in the mirror. It’s not exactly a million miles from the QL concept though, really.

  11. 11
    Pete on 7 Apr 2011 #

    Bookended too with the reflection in Anish Kapoor’s bean in Millennium Park (well done Chigago tourist board). One thing that gets completely overlooked is the possession of poor old Sean in the alternate universe. Let’s hope his schoolkids don’t notice!

  12. 12
    swanstep on 8 Apr 2011 #

    Interview with Duncan Jones here. Have to be careful myself about accumulating (even very indirect) spoilers since Source Code doesn’t open for another month down under, but it’s a good read for everyone else I think.

  13. 13
    Mark M on 15 Oct 2013 #

    I finally saw The Adjustment Bureau. Very glad I didn’t pay money to see in 2011.

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