Looper (2012) -vs- Source Code (2011)

September 27, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Let’s face facts: If “traveling back in time to change the past” movies stuck rigidly to actual logic, there would be no such movies. As far as I can tell, there’s just no getting around the paradox that if you travel back in time and change the past, you alter history in such a way that you no longer have a reason, in the new timeline you’ve created, to get in a time machine and go back and change the past. For starters.

Fortunately, the best examples of the genre wisely choose to ignore this little snag and do the next best thing: Pour their energy into making it so entertaining and zanily convoluted that it doesn’t even occur to you to mind until you’re on your way home. The last decade, in fact, has seen a wealth of intriguing time-travel flicks that do exactly that, largely thanks to the fact that time travel doesn’t always require expensive special effects and thus can be done independently; all you need is a convincing-looking time machine prop and a lot of ingenuity, and presto, you got yourself a “high concept indie,” be it the soft-spoken, cerebral Primer (2004), the ruthless Mexican mind-bender Timecrimes (2007), or the diabolically clever Triangle (2009) (which doesn’t actually involve a time machine at all, but otherwise fits the category). […]

The Five-Year Engagement (2012) -vs- Runaway Bride (1999)

April 26, 2012 Ben Silverio

Spring is a time of rebirth and new life, and what institution better embodies a new life than marriage? Well, probably divorce. Either way, spring is in the air here at Movie Smackdown, and we’ve got a major matrimony matchup to do battle—without even the benefit of a pre-nup.

The Challenger in this rom-com rampage is The Five-Year Engagement, premiering this weekend, with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as the leads. […]

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) -vs- A River Runs Through It (1992)

March 26, 2012 Mitch Paradise

Books and movies have often used bodies of water and the creatures that live in them as full, rich metaphors, evoking man’s struggle to find meaning amid life’s shifting tides (Alert: the first of many body-of-water metaphors!). The examples in high culture are endless: Moby Dick, The Secret of Roan Inish, SpongeBob SquarePants… Here are two movies that carry on the tradition: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a Lasse Hallstrom-helmed, Simon Beaufoy-penned romantic dramedy, has made a splash in the indie world by dramatizing the Sisyphean task of introducing salmon fishing to a desert country best known today as the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. It’s opponent is A River Runs Through It, a lyrical film based on Norman McClean’s semi-autobiographical novel that follows the maturation of two brothers struggling to create individual and conflicting identities under the watchful eye of their minister father. Set in the wild and verdant glory of rural Montana, everything about it is as precious as your grandmother’s wedding rings. […]