Timecrimes (2007)


*. When did so many words start getting slurred together to form catchy neologisms? It must have come in with the Internet, when a brand or title or name was all one run-on web address. Hence: Timecrimes. Not Time Crimes, which would have made perfect sense. But Timecrimes. Or, in the original Spanish, Los Cronocrimenes.
*. I find this a clever and entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying movie, for several reasons.
*. A lot of people hold this up as a time travel movie that actually “makes sense.” It does not. The paradoxes of time travel are not resolved, they are simply avoided for some reason by Hector. Just because you can draw a squiggly line on the back of a calendar doesn’t mean you’ve explained a damn thing.


*. It’s also not clear to me what Hector’s motivations are. Once he figures he is caught in the loop and so should try as much as possible to keep the new time frames working like the old, I can see why he might think there’s some sense to what he’s doing (even if there is no real sense for it). But why does he leave the lab in the first place? He didn’t know he was the guy wearing the bandages. And if there is no changing what happened anyway, why not just sit around and wait for events to replay as they must?
*. As a special instance of motivation, why on earth would Hector just blithely agree to enter the time travel tank when the scientist El Joven (writer-director Nacho Vigalondo) tells him to. That thing does not look safe at all. And yet he climbs in right away. I’d take my chances with the bandage-headed man. And plus there are two of them in the lab and the only weapon the other guy has is a pair of scissors. So come on.


*. Finally, there’s the girl on the bicycle. I can see killing her off if the point that’s being made is that Hector is essentially a selfish and amoral jerk. But this is something that the movie, as far as I can tell, does not want to say, or even imply. Hector is an Everyman, he is not evil or cruel.
*. Otherwise, Hector could have prevented her death and staged it so as to fool the Hector on the roof. This is what I thought he was going to do when he cut her hair and gave her a jacket to wear. Then it turns out that he was just sacrificing her out of expedience. The Hector on the roof never actually checks to make sure that she is dead.
*. Aside from all of the above, I thought this was a clever little film that did a good job milking an entertaining feature out of a very limited budget.


*. Bárbara Goenaga is very pretty, but why does Hector strip her naked? Because that’s the way Hector finds her, of course, but only because that’s what Hector did to her in the first place. Which introduces an infinite regress.
*. The film starts out quite effectively creepy. I like the setting of the unfinished house with everything covered in plastic wrap, and all the time spent looking through binoculars. The binoculars are scary because they constrict Hector’s vision so much. He can see things at a distance but nothing right in front of him, or to either side. You half expect something dangerous to suddenly jump up in his face.
*. Hector’s hiding behind a tree creates the same sense of unease. From the camera’s POV we can’t see anyone sneaking up on him, and neither can he. But again, nothing is done with this.
*. Then there is the character of the scientist. I didn’t trust him a bit. Surely, I thought, he’s a brilliant mad scientist at a private lab, hiding all kinds of sinister secrets from his bewildered guinea pig Hector. Then it turns out he’s just some schlub version of the sorcerer’s apprentice who’s stuck working weekends.
*. This turns the movie into something like an ironic case study in the Peter principle. Now there’s an infinite regress! The future is doomed to keep getting dumber as we descend the ladder of our competence.


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