MOVIES THAT DON’T SUCK: If you can’t do the crime time, don’t do the ‘Timecrime’

This blog is late – not my usual brand of late, mind you. This time, I have an excuse. I also have a large nose.

I’ve always found the fact that my nose has usually been plugged especially unfortunate. After all, if you’ve got to live with such a big nose, you might as well enjoy better airflow.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten that fixed due to the wonders of modern medicine. Or at least it will be fixed when my stitches and splints get taken out. For now my nose is just an equally congested waterfall of various bodily fluids – hence the late blog.

But I digress.

I’m not the kinda guy who invites everyone to his personal pity-party when he isn’t feeling well, so believe me when I say that I didn’t choose Nacho Vigalondo’s 2007 time travel film “Timecrimes” just because I wanted to draw parallels between me and the man masked in bloodied bandages.

Although I did have bandages on my face, and those bandages were bloody.

The main character in this series of unfortunate and temporally muddled events is Hector (Karra Elejalde). He and his wife Clara (Candalena Fernandez) have just bought a large home in the Spanish countryside and are beginning to settle in.

Hector sits down in his new lawn chair and looks over the surrounding countryside with his binoculars. Soon he sees what every man casually surveying his surroundings wishes to see: a woman disrobing.

When his wife leaves to go pick up food, Hector does the only logical thing and goes to investigate. Finding the woman unconscious, he tries to render some assistance. But as he does this, he is stabbed in the arm by the masked man who appears on the movie poster.

Hector is pursued through the forest to some vaguely tech-y looking building. Inside, he finds a walkie-talkie and is told to run to another building to escape the masked man, who has begun to hunt him through the house.

This man (played by Vigalondo himself) directs him through the facility and into a vat “to hide.” A flash of light, a rumble and Hector awakens to filtering daylight and an empty vat. Apparently, he has been transported back in time.

“Timecrimes” is remarkable in that it makes us think much more about the concept of time travel in one movie than “Back to the Future” did in three (and with many more “Great Scott!”s).

The film’s plot is best described not as an arch but as a loop. As Hector learns upon emerging from his pod, he is not only the victim of this nightmare, but the perpetrator as well. Now he has to make sure that his past self is adequately terrorized and enters the time travel chamber just as he did, thus finishing off the loop.

There is a confusing brilliance to the film’s plot. At the beginning everything is chaotic and random. Certain strange, implausible things are happening to Hector.

Yet at the end of the film, all of those odd occurrences are explained. The entire set-up of the film is a puzzle, and the rest of the film is the solution.

Of course, the so-called “solutions” that Hector works out create more problems, forcing him to go back again to create even more problems.

Where “Timecrimes” differentiates from “Back to the Future” is that in the former, time is immutable, while in the latter, a screwed-up reality is just a basis for another movie.

For example, on one of his trips, Hector accidentally causes the death of his wife, prompting him to go back in time (again) to try to stop it. Of course, he can’t succeed. But in trying to prevent his wife’s death, he discovers that the him from the future tricked the girl from the woods into dressing like his wife to escape from the him from the past who was chasing her.

Did that entire paragraph make no sense? Good. It barely made sense to me, and I watched the movie. The thing about time travel stories is that there’s really no way to make sense of events on paper. You just have to watch the darn thing.

But don’t be like me and watch it on pain meds. That’s just a recipe for disaster – and a headache.

—By Grant Miner

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