Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Timecrimes - You know how it is, you fall into crime and just can't get out of the loop....

Ah, the problems of time travel!
With a plotline not far distant from American movies 'Retroactive', '12 Monkeys' and especially 'Primer', 'Timecrimes' is a low-budget Spanish movie dealing with the perils of time paradoxes. You know what, I mean, the kind of scenario that asks if you went back in time to kill your father before you were born, well, how can you? In this case backwards travel leads to the uncomfortable idea of a replicating hero. In order to get back his life (and cancel out the multiple versions of himself time travel has generated), an ordinary Joe is forced into some extraordinary, and increasingly unpalatable, 'crimes'. It sounds familiar, and it is, but somehow it's all done with flair, emotion and enough originality to make it stand out. It's also deceptively nasty.
There are many ways of pursuing the concept of time travel. One would have us believe that to change the past in any way will have unforeseen consequences that will destroy the present, or rather create another present (eg. the 'Back to the Future' movies). Sometimes this present is regarded as being in an alternative universe, where time travel is more a change in universe than time. Another theory, and one used far more often than you might think, is that any time travel to the past really has no effect on the present as what we do in the past has already happened. Ultimately this is the approach films such as 'The Terminator' or '12 Monkeys' take. Without giving the game away, 'Timecrimes', has its hero operate on the basis of one theory, while bringing about another. It is clever and, for what is to my mind an effective, if very dark, black comedy, surprisingly philosophical and touching in its approach.
It's also nicely acted especially by Karra Elejalde who spends at least a third of the movie saddled with some extra baggage. Director Nacho Vigalondo also features playing the unwitting instigator of the whole time mess, and shows more restraint than Frank Whaley who had a similar role in 'Retroactive'. Vigalondo is aware of his cinema heritage and throws in some nice references to Golden Age Universal horror movies (The Invisible Man, the Mummy, the Hunchback) and top rank Hitchcock ('Vertigo'). (The more I think of it, the figure in the pink bandages is as potent an image as any thrown up by modern horror; Darkman with a touch of colour.) It's the kind of thing that pushes my buttons, so you can hardly be surprised if I was won over by the whole thing.
So let me just repeat that: 'Timecrimes' is well worth the viewing. And this is something Hollywood apparently agrees with having snapped up the remake rights. It is easy to guess how it will alter the movie too (black comedy does not generate much American gold), and those changes might reflect very broadly the stereotypical difference between American and European cinema. However, a cursory search brought up the interesting rumour that David Cronenberg, of all people, is being seriously talked about for the director's job, Bruce Willis and Kurt Russell are being touted as possible leads, while Steven Zaillian and Timothy Sexton ('Children of Men') are being considered for the screenplay. I hate remakes, but Cronenberg isn't the kind of filmmaker to pass up the opportunity to do 'dark'. You never know, in a twisted Frankensteinian way it might work. Still I'm a realist and even the great Terry Gilliam with '12 Monkeys' did not improve on Chris Marker's French original, 'La Jetee'. So catch 'Timecrimes' in its current Spanish state before Hollywood goes back and changes it all completely.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home