Time Lapse


The future doesn't look so bright for these Millennials.

The future doesn’t look so bright for these Millennials.

(2014) Science Fiction (XLRator) Danielle Panabaker, Matt O’Leary, George Finn, John Rhys-Davies, Amin Joseph, Jason Spisak, Sharon Maughan, David Figlioli, Judith Drake, Mark C. Hanson (voice), Dayci Brookshire. Directed by Bradley King

If only we knew the future. What would we do with that knowledge? If we could look even just 24 hours ahead, how would that affect our lives?

A trio of young roommates have to wrestle with that problem. Finn (O’Leary) is a frustrated painter who has no idea what to paint. Stuck in the visually artistic version of writer’s block, he has taken a job as the maintenance man in a group of bungalow-style apartments, the sort that were once popular in L.A. and continue to be found throughout the Southland. He lives with his best friend Jasper (Finn), a happy-go-lucky gambling-addicted bartender and his girlfriend Callie (Panabaker), the only one of the three gainfully employed and an aspiring writer herself.

Finn gets word that their neighbor opposite them, the reclusive and elderly Mr. Bezzerides (Rhys-Davies) is late with his rent check. In addition, nobody has seen him for at least a week. He sends Callie over to the apartment, fully expecting it to stink to high heaven with the smell of decayed corpse but it seems fine. However, she discovers something odd; there’s a contraption that resembles a giant Polaroid camera pointed at their front window and a wall full of photos of things going on in their apartment – and sometimes of simply the empty window. Several of the photos appear to be missing.

They soon deduce that the device actually takes a picture of whatever it is aimed at 24 hours into the future. Callie finds Mr. Bezzerides’ journal detailing his experiments; the last entry indicates that the photo taken that day indicated Mr. Bezzerides demise. Eventually his desiccated body is discovered in a storage unit.

Finn is all for calling the cops but Jasper argues that it would be foolish to do so when what they have in front of them is a veritable gold mine. All they have to do is put a sign in the window with the winners of that day’s races and they can make a fortune. Jasper is sure that it will be perfect with no harm even remotely possible coming of it. Callie seems all in with the idea but Finn is  reluctant. Jasper convinces him that he can see what he’s painting in the future and get out of his funk. Finn finally agrees, a bit reluctantly.

Of course Jasper being a world class screw-up is absolutely wrong that no harm could possibly come of using the camera; of course harm can come, in the form of a suspicious bookie (Spisak) and his taciturn goon (Figlioli).  Paranoia rises, relationships crumble and the future suddenly seems a terrifying place as they become slaves to the images that must occur. Or do they?

First-time feature filmmaker King and his co-writer (and fellow first-time feature filmmaker) BP Cooper have formulated a cool premise that has tons of potential, then really don’t do anything with it. For one thing, they commit one of the most cardinal sins in filmmaking; taking two fairly smart and sensible characters (Finn and Callie) and have them listen to the most irresponsible of the three (Jasper). Would you even take advice as to what brand of toothpaste to use from this guy? No, and neither would they, especially since they presumably know him better.

Panabaker, best known for playing the sensible scientist in The Flash TV show, is once again playing the most grounded member of the group. Her performance is satisfying, but unfortunately both Finn and O’Leary (particularly the latter) seem a little bit stiff, like they’re not comfortable on-camera. Maybe someone showed them a Polaroid.

Near the end of the film some sexual tension shows up; I wish they might have used this a bit more in the film as it did improve the overall torpor that the movie seems to exist in. I will say that the climax turns out pretty well and tells me that both King and Cooper have a good deal of potential as writers, but the movie is definitely somewhat hit and miss in that regard; they use a terrific concept to tell a rather pedestrian story when all is said and done. With a little bit more imagination they might have had something here but that doesn’t mean what they have isn’t entertaining. Certainly it is worth a look on VOD or at your local theater if it happens to be playing there. Sci-fi fans will probably get a kick out of it in any case; I don’t need a gigantic camera that takes pictures of the future to tell me that one.

REASONS TO GO: Nifty difty premise. Cleverly thought out.
REASONS TO STAY: Stiffly enacted. Doesn’t really use the premise wisely.
FAMILY VALUES: Some violence, some sexuality, some drug use, a little bit of foul language and some tense situations.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Polaroid film is no longer manufactured. The filmmakers had to fake the Polaroids by purchasing old Polaroid pictures on Ebay, cutting out the insides and pasting digital images color-corrected to resemble Polaroid pictures inside.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/9/15: Rotten Tomatoes: 77% positive reviews. Metacritic: 50/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Timecrimes
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT: Casino

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Pick of the Litter – May 2015


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Avengers Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron
(Disney/Marvel) Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, James Spader, Chris Hemsworth. Marvel’s merry march through the box office will undoubtedly continue as they kick off the summer blockbuster with a sequel to the team-up that remains their biggest box office smash to date. As the Phase II of the cinematic universe comes to a close, the newest Avengers film will kick off the Civil War storyline that will no doubt dominate Marvel’s big screen – and small screen – properties for the next couple of years. This is likely to be the biggest box office success of the summer, although to be honest there are a few contenders who may knock it off its presumed throne. Nonetheless this will be one movie all the fanboys will turn out to see in droves. May 1

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
(Music Box) Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skaringer. Every so often a comedy comes along that doesn’t try to push boundaries or reinvent the wheel; it’s just plain funny. This Florida Film Festival favorite concerns a man who, on his 100th birthday, climbs out of the window of the retirement home he’s been placed in and goes on an adventure that involves a suitcase full of drug money, an elephant, the world’s most indecisive man, bikers, drug lords, bohemians, police detectives and Stalin. It’s absurd, yes, but I dare you to watch this one without laughing out loud at least once. May 1

In the Name of My Daughter

In the Name of My Daughter
(Cohen Media Group) Catherine Deneuve, Guillaume Canet, Adéle Haenel, Judith Chemia. Based on real life events, this is the latest from master director André Téchiné of France. In the 1970s, a powerful casino owner on the French Riviera welcomes her daughter home after a failed marriage. However, corrupt forces led by Mafiosi Jean-Dominique Fratoni, wish to take over her casino which has become vulnerable after professional gamblers have taken it for five million francs in a single night. Her daughter, angered that she hasn’t received her inheritance from her father that she feels she is entitled to, hooks up with her mother’s lawyer, an ambitious sort who manipulates her into voting against her mother at a board meeting which gives control of the casino to Fratoni and ruins her mother financially. Soon thereafter, the daughter disappears and is presumed murdered. Her mother takes up a 20 year crusade to find the murderer and bring him to justice. It’s a gripping story, one which most American audiences are unfamiliar with but should resonate here for those willing to take a chance on it. May 8

Animals

Animals
(Oscilloscope) David Dasmalchian, Kim Shaw, John Heard, John Hoogenakker. Winner of the Special Jury Award for Narrative Features at the most recent SXSW Festival, this searing drama looks at two homeless drug addicts; their dreams, their love and the damage done. Written by lead actor David Dasmalchian, this New York City-set drama has a bittersweet quality to it as the lovers look in the windows of other lives and see their hopes for a future together, one which is compromised by their addictions. The film seems to pull no punches, showing how the addiction fuels the decisions that they make not all of which are beneficial to them as a couple. It also shows how society views them as less than human. Definitely one which should be on your VOD list and your wish list for local theatrical release.. May 15

Good Kill Good Kill
(IFC) Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kravitz. Inspired by actual incidents, the latest film from New Zealand-born writer-director Andrew Niccol looks at the human cost of technology as Niccol is reunited with Gattaca star Hawke as a former fighter pilot who know remote controls drones as they take out targets half a world away. As he begins to question the morality of what he’s doing, the doubt takes a toll on his career, his family and his psyche. When we wage war like the way we play video games, does our moral compass go out the window? How do we differentiate the innocent from the foe? And when does collateral damage become unacceptable, and who determines that line? These are questions that the modern military grapples with every day and they are questions that we need to be thinking about as well. May 15

Time Lapse

Time Lapse
(XLRator) Danielle Panabaker, Matt O’Leary, George Finn, John Rhys-Davies. An extremely intriguing sci-fi concept involves a group of friends who discover their neighbor in the apartment next door has invented a camera that can take pictures 24 hours into the future. At first they use it to make bets on the horse races, the results of which they post in their window for them to see in the photo the previous day. However, this attracts them the kind of attention that they don’t want. While the movie looks like it has the potential to be really interesting, it also has the potential to be a rote thriller. Either way, it could be quite the ride if the filmmakers did this right. May 15

Unfreedom

Unfreedom
(Dark Frames/Film Buff) Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussein, Bhanu Uday, Preeti Gupta. Religious extremism is a global issue and this movie examines it from the perspectives of two stories occurring simultaneously in Delhi and New York, one the story of an Indian woman chafing at the idea of an arranged marriage and the other of the kidnapping of a progressive Muslim professor by Islamic terrorists who want to silence his ideas. The movie was banned in India where the concern was that it would inflame religious tensions as well as insult the religious. From what I could tell from the trailer, it looks like the filmmakers want you to make up your own mind. May 29