Sunday, September 08, 2013

"Timecrimes" (Language - Spanish) (2007) - Movie Review

“Timecrimes” is the kind of film that gives hopes to young filmmakers and moviegoers like me that complex science fiction is not at the mercy of money draining CGI special effects (while Christopher Nolans’ “Inception” and The Wachowski Brothers’ “The Matrix” benefit greatly but then again the foundation is what drives those). Rather it is at the minds of intelligent film makers much like Nacho Vigalondo out here who reminded to go back and rewatch “Primer”. That film was dauntless in treating its audience to figure out the puzzle they put forth and behaves providing a sense of solving a crossword. Mind you that it will be annoying to not finish the crossword but the fun though is there in those squares. Flexing your mind is healthy in the current trend of mindless fodder of butchered formula in films that bears to have the life span of a fly.

This Spanish film begins with Hector (Karra Elejalde) settling in his new home with his wife (Candela Fernandez) when he ogles with his binocular on the country side from his backyard. He sees a naked woman laying possibly unconscious or even dead and his curiosity takes him through the woods. While getting there close to her he gets stabbed by a man with red cloth on his face and begins to runaway ending up in a remote building. The building looks like a lab facility and he hears a voice in a walkie-talkie which leads him to the Scientist played by director Nacho Vigalondo in another building and asks Hector to hide in a machine. In a flash he wakes up out of the machine and the Scientist is amused to see Hector as he has never met him or did he remember putting him in the first place. Time travel of the experimental device happens to have landed Hector several hours earlier on the same day. What now?

The above start takes time to settle in and the events therefore on begs to be dissected piece by piece on what could Hector do or doing to get out of this loop. He is in a time paradox and event after event we either think he is acting absurd or dumb even. Yet I would hold reservation till the film arrives at its conclusion. There are flaws and holes you would try to take out of and I bet you begin to predict the plot. While “Primer” let the viewers take in the technicality findings on its own and unfurl the plot, “Timecrimes” is more about the audience begin to piece the puzzle one after another on what Hector will do when he begins to recalibrate the past to make it alter to pave way to the destiny of the day that has dragged him into one long day.

Beyond entertaining us with thoughtful and convoluted timelines and possibilities, the film begins to explore the idea of fate, destiny and freewill. The curiosity of traveling time and space has far become the fatal plot device in failed blockbusters. There have been few successful ones including the impressive “Looper” that acknowledged the fact of duplicates existing and still have a resolution in its own way. When there is another life  departed by time and space gets transported, the clash with that new life in another time still has the survival instinct and the person in future in the present bears no existence. “Timecrimes” does not tangles itself in the possibilities for the world but purely for the story to exist and becomes true to its nature of presentation.

Actor Karra Elejalde who comes off as the middle aged unimpressive man gets his day played again and again. We see a clear travel of experience that has posed on him and we see the difference not alone in his injuries and bruises but in the way his last travel out from the machine is presented when he spits out the water he was drenched in and goes business as usual. He has been through enough for one day and as he lay helpless at the end in his backyard at night with sirens at distant, there is a sense of relief and what this travels have turned him are faced with dark truth.

While I consistently questioned the actions Hector made right from the moment he ventures upon the woods to fill his curiosity and what not, the film begins to soak through us slowly and offers the exercise it is going through. The screenplay again by Nacho Vigalondo is tight and the debate continues in the mind but in the box of the time within which the movie happens, it makes sense. The only way the time paradox can be ended is with the non-existence of the anomaly created by the time machine. Yet the survival instinct of that person in that present does not get altered by the travel. Hence all wrong things are bound to happen unless they meander in to place wherein they have no bearing to meet their original or duplicate. Nacho knows the fight in humans to survive and stick to the life they have created. It works in “Timecrimes”.

"The World's End" (2013) - Movie Review

In a summer that has not motivated this reviewer to not seek upon any of the blockbuster and the one that was sought barely crossed the line of mediocre, “The World’s End” would have to be the first movie in a long time to be greatly expected for. As the third installment in the Cornetto trilogy (which not many people are aware including yours truly till the recent past), “The World’s End” is not at par with the love I have for “Hot Fuzz” and the surprising rise of talent in “Shaun of the Dead” is not because of complacent direction or haphazard writing. As how I lost interest in “Shaun of the Dead” in the third act when it becomes the full on zombie horror film it was paying homage to, “The World’s End” intentionally bodes of predictability in the first act.  I understood why it was done in the former and I do in the latter. Nevertheless it is funny to see Simon Pegg assembled along with his buddy Nick Frost and the added talents of Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine.

Just hearing the premise sounds fun. A man who clearly has not outgrown his high school days gathering his buddies from those great days wants to venture the Golden Mile (and yes, the capitals are intentional) for the run of 12 pubs and 12 pints of great ales. How magical the sound of it rings in any beer aficionados and alcoholics? This man is Gary King, dressed too well for a homeless person and too terrible for an average guy, we see him recite that night of serious drinking, mischief and debauchery only to not finish the Golden Mile in its entirety in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Director Edgar Wright gets right to the business because as Gary he cannot wait for this epic night to begin and successfully end.

This is where the predictability is, well, too predictable. With Gary’s penchant for influencing his friends, he even manages his best buddy who has quit drinking due to an unspeakable accident with Gary involved of course to partake as well. That is Nick Frost’s Andy. Along with Andy are Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Steven (Paddy Considine). They go back to their small quaint village (similar to “Hot Fuzz”) Newton Haven. Nothing phases Gary other than to finish this thing as though this is his only destiny and achievement.

“The World’s End” is signature Edgar Wright film with fast cut edits with amplifying the simplest actions. The pour of the ale in to the glass or the start of the car are elevated and our sensory are heightened as though there are great things in those movements. That split second joy and the smile to follow for the nature in which he used those exemplifies that a talented man is in action. The film begins to entangle into something entirely different which is the world is taken over by body snatching alien robots. There is no secrecy in that as Gary begins his first stunt of several with these humanoids. From that moment onwards, the film races to the end as Gary himself would like to.

As much as this would become a film wherein the filmmakers would enjoy involving copious amount of drinking, the care for the presentation is subtly evident. The film progresses and in any other film there is a cut from the time one begins to drink and the end wherein they are drunk or lightly buzzed. “The World’s End” might be the first film to take us through the progress of being sober to being drunk. The story itself takes that turn of things falling out of sky and things seem to be acceptable, doable and more importantly thoroughly enjoyable. Not even the great threat of beings from another planet taking over their small little town and the entire world phases them. They are panicked and unaware but as Gary keeps hurrying through pub after pub looking for one pint after another, the friends begin to give into the elated state these liquids put them through.

The stunt choreography is one to be mentioned which is interesting to see it handled with great clarity and entertainment for a comedy. There are no shaky cameras and what a welcome relief that is. The actors participating in those do it with so much conviction that we begin to believe these average folks kicking the butt of the alien robots with great technique, strength and agility. As the apocalypse ends and I was in wonderment of how they could finish it, the brilliant conversation with the supposed alien voice and Gary King is the best thing I have ever witnessed for a climax in a long time. It is witty, truthful and downright Edgar Wright. I would be in blunder for not mentioning the performance of Simon Pegg who plays Gary King both with spite and sympathy but also truly appreciate his comedic timing.

I cannot help but to wonder whether all this pubs are going to get its real life existence and how many pub crawl this is going to give birth. I am sure I will be starting one crawl though I would be done with pub number four. Anyone could have made a film about drinking heavily and great partying. For that fact, many have and few have succeeded. The brilliance in Wright is that he makes it a personal experience though drawing from the common foundation everyone have in their high school days or college days in my case. When we see “The World’s End”, we understand Gary’s motivation in a weird way. We remember those times of revelries when things like that are the things to live for. As adulthood phases through, one forgets those revelries in the name of maturity and rightfully so but time and again, you need that kick and the reminder on why we are here which is enjoy this existence. Yet Wright does not alone capitalize on that feeling but take it to spoof/homage he does with genres and here he once again brings those with timed perfection. Along with that, the running jokes throughout the film, the cameos and several other fun things I have not mentioned out here makes “The World’s End” one of the better summer films I have seen this year.