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Time Travel

Review: Before I Fall

Mar 03 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]221343:43441:0[/embed] Before I FallDirector: Ry Russo-YoungRelease Date: Rating: PG-13  Up front (well, after the intro): I did not like the first third of Before I Fall. There are a variety of potential reasons for this, though most of them boil down to an inability to connect to the characters. They're popular girls; it's like a modern version of Mean Girls but without the funny. They're just terrible. And with a lack of humor, I had nothing to latch onto. I was never a teenage girl, but it's less that than the fact that I was never a popular teenager of any gender. I just simply couldn't relate. So, I was upset, because I wanted to like it, and the film was just making it so hard. But then things changed. Before I Fall's conceit is that its protagonist, Samantha (Zoey Deutch), dies in a car crash and then wakes up at the beginning of the same day. And even when she doesn't die in the car crash, she still wakes up the same day. It's "Cupid Day," a semi-bizarre variation on Valentine's Day. I've never heard anyone call it Cupid Day before, and at first I thought maybe it was a Pacific Northwest thing, since that's where the film is set, but apparently not; it comes from the book (which was actually set in New England). Looking up "Cupid Day" on Google brings up as its first result a question on Yahoo Answers specifically asking about its use in the book upon which this film is based (look at all the research I did for this review!). Still, it's definitely Valentine's Day because someone is like, "Happy Cupid Day" and someone else is like "THAT'S VALENTINE'S DAY TO YOU" and I dunno if that part was in the book. It felt kinda expository, like the moment was only there for the purpose of clarification... but whatever. Point is, its Cupid Day and that's what everyone says. (It's best not to get hung up on things like that.) We see the day play out. We see Samantha and her friends as garbage people. We see that there's something in Samantha that could be not garbage, but that only matters so much when she also shouts that the sad girl is a "Psycho." She piles on like everyone else. She's still a bad person. And then she dies, and she spends the rest of the film atoning for that sin.  Her first repeated day is whatever. I knew the conceit, so I more-or-less knew how it was gonna go down. She was still not a good person, but she was a not-good person who was starting her transition. But even if those glimmers of worthwhileness began around here, she was still fundamentally not worth caring about.  I don't remember if it's the next day or the one after, but at some point she decides to dress differently. She dresses like a goth kid. She wears all black, gets all made up, and then she starts speaking her mind to people. She calls out her friends on their shit. She then has a really awkward interaction with her teacher (I cringe just thinking about it), and she does it all because she has realized that it doesn't matter. That she is going to wake up the next day the same as ever. So why not be a different her for a day (maybe one that's closer to the real her? At this point, we don't actually know, though the answer seems to be "not quite" (though that begs the question of why she had those clothes in the first place))?  And that was interesting, of course, because we see different sides of the character, but it wasn't even that that did it for me; she goes in to the bathroom that I guess has been designated the one lesbian girl's bathroom, and then the two of them talk. And the talk that they have is genuinely interesting. It wasn't just showing more of Samantha, though it did do that; it was making a point about everything that those characters were. To paraphrase (because I didn't write down the actual line): "In two years, I won't remember any of you." And you look at Samantha's friends, the popular kids, and you think about where they're going to be in two years. After high school: Will they Matter? Will anyone remember them? The sickest parties and the cutest boys in high school are, one would assume, chump change compared to what's to come. But that's what they care about. Being cool. People thinking their cool. And the people who are actually cool are just biding their time until they don't have to deal with that shit anymore. (They'll have to deal with other shit, but that's not the point.) At that point, it becomes like a different movie, a movie about misfits. Because the truth is that, though Samantha somehow joined up with the popular girls, it's not really who she is. She isn't as "weird" as some of the people are, but she's definitely a lot less judgmental of oddities than she puts on. And as Before I Fall begins to explore that, it's suddenly like watching a different, much better movie. Samantha became multi-faceted, and her relationships became compelling. What happens with the family I found to be particularly feels-worthy, and it was this stuff, actually, that made me cry. Yeah. Before I Fall made me cry. And it wasn't like a cheap thing either. They didn't have to kill a cute animal (or even a person); they just had to start to mend something that was on the verge of being broken. I have a sister who is quite a bit younger than I am. I was definitely dismissive of her in the way that Samantha is of hers. But Samantha, as the day repeats and repeats, decides to own up to this and try to make things better. I felt that so freaking hard. (After the film ended, I immediately texted my sister to tell her I loved her.) And it wasn't just that. Many of the character arcs pay off in ways that feel honest in an almost surprising way, because sometimes the ways they get to those conclusions don't make a lot of sense. Certain characters do things that seem out of place, but where they end up as a result of them still works. It could be an adaptation thing: In the pages of the book, there is more time to get a character from A to B to C and so on, but we have to skip a few letters to get it into a film. But whatever the reason, it doesn't ultimately matter. What matters is how it feels right. Very right. In the first third of the film, I was just thinking, "Man, I want to go home and watch The Edge of Seventeen again." And, admittedly, I think that a lot, but after the switch, I thought, "No... this is the only thing I want to be watching. This is the thing that matters." And it does matter, because it really does get into some of the seedier aspects of high school popularity, and the gross things people do in order to move up a level. Also, it made me cry.
Before I Fall Review photo
Putting it on replay
If you read my Top 15 Movies of 2016 list, then you'll know that at the very top (number 0) was The Edge of Seventeen. Also worth noting: my favorite movie of ever continues to be Joseph Kahn's Detention. From that, we can de...

Assassin's Creed clip photo
Assassin's Creed clip

Michael Fassbender enters the Animus in this Assassin's Creed clip

Shake hands with the past
Nov 29
// Hubert Vigilla
The Assassin's Creed movie is less than a month away. I'm lukewarm but interested, and at least willing to give it a shot based on the talent involved. The film brings together Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and direct...

Review: Terminator - Genisys

Jul 01 // Sean Walsh
[embed]218671:42029:0[/embed] Terminator: GenisysDirector: Alan TaylorRated: PG-13Release Date: July 1, 2015 We all know the story: Savior of humanity John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to prevent a terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from killing his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) before John is born. However, Kyle finds himself in a very different situation shortly after his arrival in 1984. What follows is a bit of timey-wimey shenanigans that only the Terminator franchise can provide. To say any more than that would really ruin the surprise. Do be warned going forward, however: I will say a little more. Fair warning. First off, you can barely tell that Arnold Schwarzenegger is sixty-seven years old. The man's charisma is absolutely infectious and seeing him in the leather jacket and sunglasses that made him a household name is like coming home again or putting on your favorite, well-worn pair of shoes. He's perfect. He's a finely-aged wine. He's Arnold Goddamn Schwarzenegger. He delivered every one of his lines with a delightfully robotic wit and I could honestly spend the rest of the review just talking about his performance but that's not very fair to the other people involved. While she's no Linda Hamilton (is anyone?), Emilia Clarke does well as the new Sarah Connor. She's a lot more well-adjusted to her situation than the Sarah Connor of yesteryear and is more than capable of protecting herself. Jai Courtney, who has come a long way since being super duper bland in A Good Day to Die Hard, is our Kyle Reese and I'll be honest: I'm for it. He didn't break new ground or completely change my movie-going experience or anything, but he was a sturdy male protagonist and when you're starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, that's all you can ask for. Jason Clarke's John Connor was dark, brooding, and scared (inside and out) after thirty-someodd years of fighting Terminators and he really sold it. These four are joined by Matt Smith in a brief but significant role that was blissfully kept under wraps (unlike many other facets of the film courtesy of the bastardly second trailer) and J. K. Simmons in a more substantial but similarly all-too-brief role as a detective. Finally, and I would be remiss to forget him, Lee Byung-hun of I Saw the Devil and G. I. Joe fame plays the new T-1000. He is menacing and carried that same icy cool Robert Patrick had in T2: Judgment Day. I was really very surprised with the effects in Genisys. I expected them to look good but I'll be damned if they didn't look great. All of the Terminators and other Skynet enemies looking amazing, the liquid metal looked real and, most importantly, the battle between present-day Arnold and circa-1984 Arnold was incredible. To my admittedly untrained eye, there was zero uncanny valley and he looked fantastic. Springboarding off of the effects, the action was almost non-stop. From the final assault on Skynet in 2029 in the beginning of the film, the movie GOES. The aforementioned fight between two Arnolds, a handful of car chases, a pretty excellent battle against the T-1000, and a wonderful final battle; all of it was great. I don't think I rolled my eyes during any of these sequences and after the last two films, I think that's a very good thing.   The score was good but honestly, what else do you need to hear other than DUN-DUN-DUN DUN-DUN, DUN-DUN-DUN DUN-DUN in your Terminator movie? Most important, of course, is the writing. I don't want to say too much because of all the moments where I wish I hadn't seen that stupid second trailer or any TV spots or heard any ads on Spotify or seen half of the films' posters, but what I will say is that it was an awesome movie full of twists and turns and fortunately some surprises, which is impressive considering how hard they tried to ruin it with spoilers. There's some fun time-travel stuff and at one point i was like "Oh, it's like Terminator meets 12 Monkeys," but then I realized that 12 Monkeys utilizes more or less the same time-loop that Terminator does. If you think too hard about the time travel stuff your nose may bleed and you might feel the vein in your head start to pulse uncomfortably but if you take it for what it is, it's a lot of fun. And lest I forget the most important factor: Genisys has a completely logical explanation for its inclusion in the title. There's a lot of callbacks to the first two films, many of which are a little more subtle than you'd expect. I found myself fist-pumping and quietly cheering many times over the course of the 126-minute runtime. The only real complaint I have about the story is there are a small handful of unanswered questions, but as Nick reported last September, we've got two sequels coming our way. Mr. Valdez can rest easy knowing that, in this humble reviewer's opinion, Genisys is absolutely good enough to warrant sequels. Will this film stand the test of time like the first or second films? Maybe, maybe not. Is it better than the third and fourth films? Absolutely. Am I excited for the sequels? You bet your shiny, metal asses I am. As far as summer movies go, this is one of my favorites in a long, long time. If I didn't know any better, it may well be my favorite film of 2015 (so far, mind you). I went in to this film expecting it to be awesomely bad and I left it singing its praises over and over. If nothing else, I would like to publicly apologize for anything negative I said about it in the months leading up to last night (excepting the awesomely horrific EW pictures). tl;dr: Go see Terminator: Genisys. 
Terminator Genisys Review photo
Old. Not obsolete.
Based on the stupid title, initial plot description and Entertainment Weekly photos, I was a little more than skeptical about Terminator: Genisys. Even though the synopsis had many, many things I loved in it (time travel, Emi...

Review: Predestination

Jan 09 // Nick Valdez
PredestinationDirector: Michael and Peter SpierigRated: RRelease Date: January 9th, 2015 An adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's short story, "All You Zombies," Predestination stars Ethan Hawke as a Temporal Police Officer who's assigned to his final mission after a previous mission leaves him with a reconfigured face. His one regret as an officer is his failure to catch the Fizzle Bomber, a notoriously evasive criminal whose bombs have killed countless people. As the officer begins his last mission, he meets a mysterious stranger (Sarah Snook) who tells the officer of his childhood troubles. And you can probably tell from the synopsis that when someone says Predestination is just Minority Report, they're looking at the bare minimum. Ethan Hawke's occupation as a time cop is where the similarities end. Predestination is much more thoughtful than Minority Report could ever hope to be.  Unfortunately if you've read Heinlein's original short, then you know the direction of the story. It's pretty much a direct adaptation, but with added flair for the screen version. The plot itself is fantastic. It's a quietly drawn out mystery which rewards the viewer when the viewer guesses something correctly. It's so tightly wound if one fact, or subject was misplaced or explained incorrectly, the entire thing would unravel. While that tightness works to the film's benefit, it's also a huge detriment to the enjoyment of the film. There's never any relaxation period, no time to absorb the information given before being presented with copious amounts of new info. Thank goodness the cast holds it together.  You know, I was initially worried for Predestination when I heard it was being directed by the Spierig brothers. Their last notable work, Daybreakers (about the futuristic society of vampires), also had a really neat concept idea but failed in the execution. But I'll hand it to them, they really know how to pick the cast. While Ethan Hawke might be top billed, he's not the central star. That honor goes to relative newcomer, Sara Snook. Snook delivers a powerful performance as the mysterious Jane. As she begins to detail the tragic events of her life, her emotional resonance carries the film even when it begins to derail into nonsense. Her narration is given the appropriate amount of emotional weight, and the crazy things she's put through may not have been believable if Snook didn't sell it so well.  You may have noticed that as I'm trying to discuss interesting aspects of the film, I'm purposefully trying to be as vague as possible. Although you'll know what happens in Predestination if you've read the original short, the majority of the mystery reveals are much better if you haven't had them spoiled for you. But the weird thing about these reveals is chances are you'll figure it out before the film gets to grandstand them. While some of the reveals are completely out of left field, and therefore unpredictable, some of them fail to land because they're so drawn out you've put the pieces of the puzzle together yourself. So when the film finally gets to the matter at hand, you're left with a period of staleness. But at least Ethan Hawke is great. He really nails his part also. Especially toward the end when he's so out of character, it works.  While Predestination is a clever mystery, it takes a while to unfurl. It's like a seductive dance that goes on for so long, it loses its original allure. But when given the time to breathe, and there's an appropriate amount of time given to fleshing out the futuristic world in which Jane and John live, it's wonderful.  Predestination could've fallen apart miserably. But because it has a great central cast, unique twist on time travel, and interesting mystery, greatness is inevitable. 
Predestination Review photo
Destined for greatness
Predestination is one of those festival films that you have no idea exists but, when you finally see it, you wonder where it's been your entire life. I'm not the biggest time travel movie fan, nor do I really enjoy science fi...

Project Almanac photo
Project Almanac

First official trailer for Project Almanac

Nov 19
// Nick Valdez
We've been hearing rumblings of the Michael Bay produced Project Almanac for awhile now. Once titled Welcome to Yesterday, the film is about a bunch of kids futzing around with a time machine leading to all sorts of wacky sh...

SXSW Review: The Infinite Man

Mar 07 // Matthew Razak
[embed]217401:41307:0[/embed] The Infinite ManDirector: Hugh SullivanRated: NRRelease Date: March 7, 2014  At it's heart The Infinite Man  is a love story. At it's other heart The Infinite Man is a time travel story. You may already recall a film that handled these themes last year called About Time. The differences between the two are many, though they both do star a wonderfully quirky lead. While both films push to the side the mechanics of time travel The Infinite Man doesn't quite ignore the implications as much, narrowing down its focus far better and delivering themes outside of love including obsession, attachment and dedication. This is the better time travel love story not simply because it's time travel rules actually make sense, but because it uses those rules to define itself and its themes. We open on Dean (Josh McConville) and Lana (Hanah Marshall) arriving at an abandoned hotel somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The two spent their last anniversary there and the OCD  Dean has brought them back to recreate the magic with a perfectly constructed weekend plan. The problem is that the magic isn't quite working and when Lana's ex-boyfriend shows up things really go off the rails. After the two break up Dean spends a year moping around the motel and then calls Lana and uses his time travel machine to take them back in time and make the day perfect. Of course things go wrong again and eventually Dean is traveling back multiple times, meeting himself and desperately trying to figure out how to make things perfect. As well all know things are never perfect. The confined space of the motel coupled with the film's time travel logistics makes for a wonderful set piece for Dean's character to slowly unravel as he tries to win back his love and figure out exactly what he wants. As things get more complex and timelines cross the film brilliantly unfolds, never breaking its own time travel rules while tossing in healthy doses of its subtly clever screenplay and humor. It's short running time (about 90 minutes) also means that it never gets overly complex on itself and as it unfolds you realize how intricately created it is, with continuity time travel errors turning out to be fantastic twists in plot. Director Hugh Sullivan also does a fantastic job editing together the colliding timelines, using the construction of the film to not only represent the wibbly wobbly nature of time, but to emphasize the thematic nuances of the movie as well. A conversation replayed four times over unfolds each time we hear it into deeper and deeper meanings, and wonderfully lays out a metaphor for Dean's life. This is also mainly a one man show. McConville is one of the most charming screen presences I've never heard of, with that sort of comedic timing and delivery that straight men almost never get to have because their overshadowed by their comedic partner. While he's joined on screen by Marshall he's the one that carries this movie and he does it fantastically. Hopefully his career will start moving outside of Australia.  It's hard to complain about much with The Infinite Man since the screenplay is so tight and well designed. There's no wasted time or loss of momentum because there's no space to lose it in. While some holes may exist, they're easily overlooked and excused thanks to the quick pace and fact that all time travel films by their very nature must have holes. The film knows its goal and drives toward it with pluck and panache leaving the viewer not only working out the time line, but the growth of its characters as well. This an easy to enjoy feature length debut from a director who I'd be happy to see more of. 
Infinite Man Review photo
Infinitely charming
Usually the first movie you watch for a festival is a bit of a let down. You're super excited for the festival to kick off and you've hyped yourself up so much that almost nothing is going to stand up to your expectations of ...

Review: About Time

Nov 01 // Matthew Razak
[embed]215623:40089:0[/embed] About TimeDirector: Richard CurtisRated: RRelease Date: November 1, 2013  The premise of About Time is sublimely ridiculous. On his 21st birthday Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) finds out from his father (Bill Nighy) that time travel is hereditary in the males in his family. If he stands in a dark space, closes his eyes and thinks about the time he wants to travel to in the past he'll appear there. He can then hop back to his current time by doing the same or simply live his life out from there on. Warned not to use his power to for money he decides instead he'll use it to find love. He finds that love eventually in Mary (Rachel McAdams), keeping his time travel a secret the entire time. For any other movie you'd expect the plot to flow out into some sort of time traveling catastrophe where Mary finds out Tim has been mucking with her life and everything starts falling apart until Tim finds the perfect way to save everything. About Time isn't about time travel, though. It's wonderfully not about it, and treats Tim's ability to time travel in the most insanely naive way to simply tell a story about love, and not the love you're expecting. This really isn't a film about Mary and Tim, it's about Tim and his Dad. It's about living life to its fullest, and loving those that we get to be with. It's innocence about what a man would do if he could time travel is so crushingly honest that you don't roll your eyes at the fact that Tim never goes back in time for personal gain, but instead nod your head that that's exactly how we should all treat the ability to time travel. About halfway through the movie Tim is confronted with the chance to hook up with the girl of his dreams, and he could full well do it and then travel back in time and never have to worry about getting busted. This isn't that movie, though, and it's at this moment that you realize you're not watching a movie about a relationship, but a movie about a life. As the rest of the film unwinds the focus shifts to Tim and his Dad and they're absolutely wonderful relationship. The main conflict in the film is not a conflict at all, but simply the fact that eventually Tim must stop traveling back in time to see his father. It leads to some of the most honest and heart wrenching moments I've seen in the theater all year, and it's all because About Time refuses to be cynical in the best way possible. Having Bill Nighy play the best father in the world and Domhnall Gleeson, who needs to be in more movies, counter him perfectly elevates the father/son relationship even further. The two actors are tailored made for their roles, and I'm not sure there is a more innocent face than Gleeson's. McAdams is gorgeous as always, but her character isn't nearly focused on enough to pull out anything that needs to be commented on. It's truly a two man show here. What's even more stunning about the film is how wonderfully it's shot. I would have never called Curtis a technically challenging director before this, but this movie isn't just gorgeous, it's built fantastically. It plays with time wonderfully, and in a brilliant instance, cheesy montages are actually artistically relevant as they bring us into Tim's time hopping world. Maybe I should have expected it since Curtis is one of the few directors to successfully make an ensemble rom-com work, but it was still surprising just how cleverly directed the movie was. That's not to say the film doesn't trip into its own problems. In a movie playing this innocent about love and life you do run into moments of too much saccharine sweetness. At times it can get tangled in it's own plot as well, as many time travel films do. It also falls into so many tropes that you wonder how it ever gets out of them (hilarious rainy wedding, romance on a beach, awkward first date). Still, it wears its romance and its sleeve and it devalues the time travel to a plot point, not the film's themes, making you forget about the fact that you're watching the umpteenth, soft lit love message of the film.  By imbuing the entire film with the kind of naivety that you'd expect to find in a child who idolizes his father About Time feels honest. It almost ignores its central time travel concept and instead focuses on an unbridled joy in love. Can that get too sweet and sugary? Of course, but sometimes a dose of sweet and sugary is perfectly welcome.    
About Time Review photo
Not what you think it's about
You probably haven't heard too much about About Time, and if you have you may have passed it off as another romantic comedy and simply forgotten about it. Hell, we've done a grand total of one post on the film and I'm not abo...


First images of Mr. Peabody & Sherman warp in

Oct 17
// Matthew Razak
Sometimes I forget movies are being made, and then when I remember I get really excited. This is not one of those times. I forgot Dreamwork's was taking Rock and Bullwinkle's time traveling dog, Mr. Peabody, and his assi...
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 photo
Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 gets a 2014 release date

If Adam Scott and Clark Duke are to be believed anyway.
Oct 03
// Nick Valdez
While Hot Tub Time Machine may have not been the best comedy, it performed well enough on home video to warrant a sequel. Production on the sequel began last Summer with John Cusack dropping out and Adam Scott filling in as C...

Japan Cuts Review: Thermae Romae

Jul 12 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215985:40412:0[/embed] Thermae Romae (テルマエ・ロマエ)Director: Hideki TakeuchiRating: TBDCountry: JapanRelease Date: April 28, 2012 (Japan) Based on the best-selling manga by Mari Yamazaki, Thermae Romae is a movie that doesn't mess around. Some other films with a similar plot may putter about for the first half hour before the time travel happens. In Thermae Romae, Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) time travels to the future twice within the first 20 minutes. It establishes the quick pace of the movie, and it also provides the basic rules of time travel in the film. They're arbitrary rules, sure, and nothing's every really explained, but at least there are rules (sort of). Each time Lucius zips into the future, it's accompanied by great operatic swells and much absurd hubbub. The film is almost like a classic 70s and 80s spoof at times with how random the gags get and how they're presented. The sheer zaniness of the plot works to the movie's advantage because Lucius is so grave about everything by contrast -- it's like wearing a designer suit with a funny hat. I couldn't help but think of the 1993 French film The Visitors, which is about a knight and squire from the Dark Ages who wind up in France. (The 1993 film is better in every way than the crummy 2001 American remake Just Visiting). Thermae Romae feels like it plays things much straighter than The Visitors, which is an odd thing to say since it's a movie about Roman bath houses and time travel. A lot of credit goes to Abe for making the material work. Without him, I don't know if Thermae Romae would be as enjoyable. I remember first seeing Abe in a really fun sci-fi/fantasy samurai movie called Moon Over Tao: Makaraga. He has a chiseled look about his face that oozes gravitas. If Thermae Romae ever winks at the audience, it's never Abe who does the winking. He's the straight man, but in playing the straight man who's out of touch in a strange land, he also becomes the inadvertent funny guy. Being a serious man in a bizarre world makes him the perfect center of the story. Why do Roman bath houses matter? For Lucius, the bath house is a place of reflection and elegance that symbolizes the true power of Hadrian (Masachika Ichimura) and the glory of the Roman Empire. That's right. The bath house is basically a stand-in for cultural values and cultural heritage. As the film progresses, Lucius begins to wonder if he really is a good architect or if he's just a good plagiarist. This is the dilemma of someone who cares about his work, his art, and about the future of Rome. The bathos just adds the to fun of Thermae Romae. (What an awful, unintentional, and yet appropriate pun.) Again, not a wink from Abe at all. He glares, he reflects, he broods, and he expresses disbelief, but he's never ironic. He is always a Roman. A Roman who speaks Japanese as a stand-in for Latin, by the way, which is hilarious. Doesn't he know that Romans are supposed to speak perfect English with British accents? Without saying too much about where the plot eventually goes, Lucius is somehow linked to a young woman named Mami (Aya Ueto). She's a manga-obsessed lady who thinks Lucius looks a lot like the hero of Fist of the North Star. And you know what? She's not far off with that. Mami has older relatives and friends who spend time at a hot springs, and when she's there with them, the subtitles simulate a Southern twang, which for some reason I found just as funny as Ancient Romans speaking Japanese. I've given a lot of credit to Abe, but really the entire cast deserves kudos for buying into the reality of the world. Ueto plays Mami as hapless, astonished, and obviously a little bit enamored with Lucius; Ichimura gives Hadrian the proper amount of dignity even if he's wearing a funny wig and a fake beard. (It's like wearing a funny hat with a toga.) Director Hideki Takeuchi didn't skimp on production values either. Some of the shooting was done in Rome at Cinecittà film studios where they shot Ben-Hur. More than anything, I just want to praise Thermae Romae's serious dedication to the art of silliness, which I hope is maintained in the sequel that comes out next year. That might be why I noted the classic spoofs of the past, like Top Secret, Airplane, and The Naked Gun. Those were all well-made movies with well-crafted jokes in which the actors played it mostly straight. Most spoofs today are cheap-o and disposable, like they should have been shelved or released DTV; and the filmmakers seem to be constantly congratulating themselves even though they're just making pop-culture references rather than doing anything that's actually comedic. I'm sure Lucius would agree that good spoofs are really about values and the glory of comedy. All it took for me to realize this was watching a proud man weep on the toilet. [Thermae Romae will screen on Sunday, July 14th. For tickets and more information, click here.]
Thermae Romae Review photo
The Citizen Kane of time travel Roman bath house movies
The plot of Thermae Romae sounds like it was born from a drunken night of playing Mad Libs: a bath house architect from Ancient Rome time travels to modern-day Japan where he becomes enthralled by the designs of contemporary ...


Timecop reboot coming, Van Damme missing

May 23
// Matthew Razak
Universal Pictures has announced that it plans to reboot Timecop or maybe remake it or maybe just make another adaptation of the comic it was based on. Whatever the hell they're doing Jean-Claude Van Damme will not be in...

Trailer: About Time

Time travel and rom-com together at last
May 14
// Matthew Razak
You know what the problem with The Time Travelers Wife was? It was so depressing. Time travel is supposed to be fun and about how you'd go back and be better in bed. Rachel McAdams clearly understood this which is why s...
Interstellar photo

Anne Hathaway joins Christopher Nolan's Interstellar

Anne Hathaway, so hot right now, Anne Hathaway
Apr 10
// Nick Valdez
Since Matthew McConaughey was picked up to lead Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, it was only natural that the lead female be experiencing an explosion equal to the McConaughey. Following her big Oscar victory (and before she...

Review: Young Gun in the Time

Mar 12 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]215062:39776:0[/embed] Young Gun in the Time (Young Gun Indeo Taim | 영건 인더 타임)Director: Oh Young-DooRating: NRCountry: South Korea  Right from the name, you just know that Young Gun in the Time is going to be really, really weird. This is from the guy who made Invasion of Alien Bikini, so broken English is somewhat expected, but that gives some sense of what that film could be about. Young Gun in the Time... not so much. The film follows Detective Young-Gun (played by Hong Young-Geun), a detective who promises that no job is too small; he will go out and find a missing stag beetle if that's what he's hired for. Then a girl comes in and asks him to kill somebody, and he has to refuse, for obvious reasons. But after his boss (who he refers to as his secretary for what are probably cultural reasons) kicks her out, Young-Gun goes out to find and help her. As he chases after her, he sees her get kidnapped and subsequently killed in a car crash. Soon afterwards, he meets her again at her workplace, and she is totally fine. How's that possible? Time travel, of course. Young Gun in the Time gives vague explanations of its rules of time travel, but for the most part they are incomprehensible. If someone does a thing, it will mean that they break a hole in something and if you die in the past then you disappear in the present, but only at certain times (but what those times are isn't really clear). It's all very strange, but if you don't think about it too hard, you'll just accept that things are kind of dumb and get on with it. And really, there's so much going on at any given moment that if you stop to think about it you'll miss some other bizarre thing that will also break down under scrutiny. It's like series of puzzles, and even in those rare cases where the puzzles are solved, the process of solving them is hidden from view. Just accept it for what it is and move on; you will enjoy yourself so much more. From a technical standpoint, it seems like director Oh Young-Doo is like a little kid in a candy shop. He's just gotten his allowance (a full order of magnitude larger than the last one) and he is free to get whatever he wants. It's a given that, for the most part, independent films are a bit more experimental than large scale productions, but Young Gun in the Time takes that to an extreme. Liberal use of split screen (which uses weird techniques like cutting a single frame in half, pushing those halves to either side, and then putting a different frame in between them) mixes with all kinds of other strange editing and other technical choices to make something truly unique. Fortunately, the strange stylistic stuff isn't overused, and there is enough traditional camerawork and whatnot to keep it from feeling like a straight-up experimental film. I hate experimental films, but I like experimentation in films. Young Gun scratches that itch. But it's not just the camerawork or editing that show what Oh Young-Doo can accomplish with a bit more money, the use of lighting is truly excellent and the way it makes use of its sets makes everything feel much more upscale than something like Invasion of Alien Bikini. It's the window dressings that give it that feel, like the dozens (if not hundreds) of clocks in the watchmaker's workplace or the old-looking vases in the antique shop, a number of which get destroyed. These background items, among other things which really aren't important to the plot, are the difference between no-budget and low-budget, and this film makes great use of its low-budget. No-budget filmmaking is fascinating, but at the end of the day there just needs to be a little bit of cash to keep things well-oiled and pretty. Young Gun in the Time does that, and it looks far better than its budget might suggest. Also noteworthy are the film's action scenes. Young-Gun has more stamina than most marathon runners, and spends a great deal of time running through the streets trying to either quickly reach a destination or chase after something. He never stops to rest or ever seems particularly bothered by how much he is running, even if he is not as good of a fighter as some of the other characters. Then again, he's just a low-level detective who finds missing stag beetles. Why would he have the skills of an assassin who uses a tape measure as a weapon? He wouldn't. But he holds his own, and there are some really cool fights (including on that takes place in a van that I'm pretty sure was actually shot out on the street as it was moving). Not all of the hits land properly, but enough do that the scenes get your blood pumping. Young Gun in the Time is an exciting film, both in what it presents and also what it represents. Oh Young-Doo is clearly a very talented guy, and this film shows some real chops, even if he's still constrained by a tiny budget. If you don't care about seeing a director expand his horizons, though, there's still a lot to like here. Admittedly, if you aren't a fan of nonsense or action, you will be turned off by the film almost immediately, but if you can look past the weirdness, you'll find some unique and enjoyable. Hopefully it is also a sign of what is still to come from Oh Young-Doo. I can't wait to see it.
Young Gun in the Time photo
Nope, time travel still doesn't make sense
[Korean Movie Night NY continues tonight, March 12, at 7 PM with Oh Young-Doo's Young Gun in the Time. Tickets are free (but first-come, first-serve) at the Tribeca Cinemas. More information can be found here.] There's someth...


Flix for Short: Timeless Man

Mar 11
// Nick Valdez
Timeless Man, a loving homage to science fiction staples Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Back to the Future, and Quantum Leap, is a short film by Two Joker Films (Brian O'Neill and Paul Bushe) in which Benjamin has trave...

MGM wants Hot Tub Time Machine 2 to exist for some reason

Jan 16
// Nick Valdez
Despite being borderline awful (with a few admittedly funny bits from Craig Robinson), Hot Tub Time Machine performed well enough on "home video" that MGM is considering producing a sequel. Right now, talks are extremely earl...

UPDATE: Hugh Jackman is Wolverine for Days of Future Past

Dec 19
// Nick Valdez
UPDATE: Hugh Jackman has technically been "in talks" this whole time (even if I was confident about it) about appearing in Days of Future Past, so he still could have backed out of it. Thankfully, Bryan Singer has confirmed v...

Michael Bay's Almanac is like Back to the Future Part II

Nov 30
// Hubert Vigilla
Bleeding Cool has revealed details about Almanac, the Michael Bay-produced found-footage time travel film. And yes, there's a sports almanac in it just like Back to the Future Part II. The story involves a high school kid nam...

The Twilight Zone movie gets a plot description

Nov 05
// Nick Valdez
When Alex (RIP Alex) first discussed the rumblings of an upcoming Twilight Zone movie (produced by Leonardo DiCaprio), he noted that it would be one coherent (probably not really) story rather than a more sensible collec...

Michael Bay producing found-footage time travel film

Oct 08
// Hubert Vigilla
'Splosionmeister Michael Bay is producing a found-footage time travel movie called Almanac. The film was written on spec by first-time screenwriters Andrew Stark and Jason Pagan, and is getting rushed into production. Almanac...

Review: Looper

Sep 28 // Matthew Razak
[embed]213026:38906[/embed] LooperDirector: Rian JohnsonRelease Date: September 28, 2012Rated: R  About 20 minutes into Looper old Joe (Bruce Willis) sits down with his past self, young Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) for a chat. Young Joe basically tosses all the questions about time travel that the audience is thinking at the same time at old Joe. Old Joe sits there for a few seconds while young Joe rattles off questions until old Joe gets so annoyed he finally slams the table and yells that none of it matters. Young Joe listens and shuts up, and so does the audience. I tell this little tidbit because it's indicative of what Looper does so wonderfully throughout the film: developing a strong story and characters so that the hiccups in the plot either don’t matter or aren’t thought about. It’s nearly impossible to write a flawless time travel film, so instead of attempting to make everything fit together logically (which, for the most part, it does anyway) director Rian Johnson makes it all fit together emotionally, beautifully constructing a story that keeps you guessing while setting its conclusion up perfectly. It’s a movie you walk out of discussing why the story worked instead of picking apart its flaws. What makes it work is that the ideas are just so much bigger than the minutia, provoking thought about what is going on with the characters and not the story itself. It also helps that in a sea of remakes, sequels and adaptations this is one of the few original sci-fi/action films we’re seeing this year. And it is almost entirely original. Veering in and out of as many genres as it possibly can (gangster, chase, horror, sci-fi, action, drama, family) Looper tells an intense story that you haven’t seen before. In the near future time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but it will be in the further future. It’s illegal, however, and the only people who use it are crime syndicates. They use it to send people back in time to the near future in order to kill them since it’s become nearly impossible to murder someone in the far future and get away with it. You’re mind is probably already racing with questions about how things work, but remember to listen to Bruce Willis and just go with it. Young Joe is a Looper in the past (our near future). Loopers are the people who do the killing for the crime syndicates in the far future. The syndicate sends someone back in time and the Looper shoots them and dumps their body after removing their pay. It’s a very wealthy life, but there’s one catch. If the Looper is still alive in 30 years they get sent back to be killed by themselves, thus closing their loop. Old Joe gets sent back, but Young Joe doesn’t kill him and things just start going downhill for Young Joe from there. The intricate and quite delicately balanced story is both too complicated warrant explaining and far too good to spoil so I won’t go any further here. Needless to say this movie will surprise you in many ways. What isn’t surprising is that Joseph Gordon Levitt is amazing and Bruce Willis is a bad ass. With the aid of some impressive prosthetics Levitt channels Willis with a disturbing amount of accuracy. Levitt nails Willis’ facial mannerisms, especially his smirk, and scenes with the two of them together are almost eerily creepy. Willis on the other hand delivers one of those performances where it only sinks in later how truly nuanced it was. Few men can take a character who eventually mows down a small army with machine guns and turn him into an actual person. There are, of course, other actors in this film who do a great job, but it’s definitely the Willis/Levitt show until right up to the very end when a surprise level of bad-assnes erupts from an unlikely source. I have specifically not gone too in depth about Looper because it’s one of those movies that just needs to unfold in front of you. Talking about how well the story is constructed, the full plot, the detailed world and the major philosophical questions raised would simply make the film less enjoyable and interesting for anyone watching. This is a movie to walk into blind and then come out with your head spinning with questions. This is what happens when original ideas are allowed to grow to fruition in Hollywood, and it’s pretty much some of the best moviemaking of the year.
Time travel has never been this original
Time travel is a sticky wicket for movies, and really all stories in general. There’s just so many contradictions, loopholes and moving parts that things get complicated. By the end of a time travel movie you’re u...


Female model is playing David Bowie in a time travel film

Sep 26
// Hubert Vigilla
A Belgian female model named Hannelore Knuts is playing David Bowie in a film called Dave. (Unrelated: I wouldn't mind a David Bowie remake of the Kevin Kline film Dave.) For a little comparison, I've included the Criterion C...

Looper's International Poster

Aug 03
// Thor Latham
We've already had a poster or two come through these here parts for the upcoming time traveling sci-fi action blockbuster Looper, but as they say good things come in threes. Thus I present to you Looper's newly unveiled inter...

Trailer: Touchback

Mar 01
// Andres Bolivar
I know this may be hard to believe, but once upon a time i was part of my high school's football team. Till this day, I reminisce about those dewey evenings, running out on that field, bright lights shining above me and sitt...

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