Wednesday, February 24, 2016

About Time

Year 8, Day 55 - 2/24/16 - Movie #2,256

BEFORE: Tom Hollander carries over from "Pride & Prejudice", and I'm still exploring films about romance in the U.K.  But tomorrow we're off on a quick trip to Russia, then back to the U.K. for two films, then it's back to the U.S.  This is the second of the two "time-travel meets romance" films I mentioned, and I'm saving the other 4 time-travel films for later on in the year.              

Julie Christie carries over from "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" to:
"Far From the Madding Crowd" with Allison Leggatt carrying over to:
"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" with Peter O'Toole carrying over to:
"My Favorite Year" with Cameron Mitchell carrying over to:
"What Next, Corporal Hargrove?" with Chill Wills carrying over to:
"Giant" with Sal Mineo carrying over to:
"The Longest Day" with John Wayne carrying over to:
"Red River" with John Ireland carrying over to:
"55 Days at Peking" with Ava Gardner carrying over to:
"The Night of the Iguana"

I've seen three - "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "My Favorite Year" and "Giant".  Some long-ass films today, so there are only 6 that I haven't seen.  Totals are now 89 seen, 196 unseen, with 6 on the list.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Twice Upon a Yesterday" (Movie #2,244)

THE PLOT:  At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

AFTER: Well, if nothing else this month, I learned to tell the difference between Domhnall Gleason and Douglas Henshall.  Both are red-headed actors from the U.K., who starred in films about using time-travel to succeed at romance.  But one was in the latest "Star Wars" film, and one wasn't.  Still, it's long way from playing the well-meaning time traveler "Tim" to playing General Hux. 

Here are the rules of time travel, according to this film, and they've got nothing to do with gravitational waves bending space and time - the men in this British family can travel within their own lives, to specific days that they remember, or to fix things that just happened that went wrong.  And they don't need to use a time machine, they just go into a dark room or closet and concentrate on the moment they want to go back to.  (There's a new theory going around that all of the Hogwarts sequences in the "Harry Potter" films just took place in Harry's imagination, while he was locked in a closet in the Durnsley's house.  What it is with British people and closets?  Sorry, I mean "cloakrooms".)  

And when Tim travels back in time, I guess it's really only his spirit, because he takes on the clothing of the past Tim, and one assumes the look too, otherwise he'd have to explain why his haircut suddenly changed or where that cut on his forehead came from.  So his spirit sort of inhabits the body of past-Tim, which is really convenient when you think about it, because most time-travelers would have to worry about bumping into themselves, and especially if they don't remember being a younger person who once met an older version of themself, then a paradox is created.  Plus there's less chance of accidentally killing yourself this way, or becoming your own grandfather.  

(For what happens in the other kind of time-travel, where the physical body is transported through time, and the time traveler can and does interact with past + future versions of himself, please watch "The Time Traveler's Wife", which coincidentally stars the same lead actress as this film.  Geez, and she was in "Midnight in Paris, too - she's the go-to actress for romancing time travelers.)

Tim's father tells him he must stay within his own lifetime, and he can't go back and kill Hitler, AND by the way, don't even bother using the power to become rich or powerful, because his grandfather tried that, and it didn't end well for him.  So, Tim sets his sights on finding love in London instead.  And he does find it, only he meets the perfect girl on a night in a restaurant, when he was supposed to be attending the premiere of his roommate's play, which didn't go well.  But in trying to go back and fix that, he learns that the time travel does NOT enable him to be in two places at once, so if he fixes the play, then he never went to the restaurant and never got the digits.  

He sets out to find the woman again, and create a new meet-cute, armed with the knowledge he gained during the night they chatted, which she doesn't remember, because for her it didn't happen.  Tim's got the definite advantage here, he can replay the scenario as many times as he needs to, making small adjustments along the way, similar to how Bill Murray romanced Andie MacDowell in "Groundhog Day".  But then, once he wins her heart, he can never let her in on the family secret, or else she may feel that she was coerced into falling for him.  

Once he gets his own romance in order, and his life seems to be going well, he sets out to fix his sister's life - she'd always been an oddball who fell for the wrong kind of men.  But this turns out to be more difficult, and he learns about some more dangers that come about from changing small details in the past.  There's a realization that he can't go back in time past a certain point, because everything's connected and he doesn't want any changes to happen to his children, whom he's grown fond of.  

In a way this is also reminiscent of the film "The Butterfly Effect", in which the time-traveling hero also found himself able to inhabit the body of his younger self, and found that even small changes had long-reaching effects - but that was a much darker film, and that character eventually came to the realization that he never should have started making changes in the first place, and in fact he never should have been born.  (This is according to the most recent ending for that film, but I'd seen it at a film festival in 2004, when the ending wasn't so bleak.)  Tim instead learns fairly early that messing with the time-stream should only be done in case of emergency, or unless you embarrass yourself in a conversation.  (Or presumably if you want to win a trial, but even though he's a successful barrister, we never see him use his power in court.)

Instead he's taught by his father that love and family are the most important things in life, and the best use of his power is to replay the days that he enjoyed the most, almost exactly as they happened the first time, but with a greater appreciation for how great they were.  It's a beautiful sentiment, but it still leaves me wishing he could use his power to change things on a larger scale.  OK, so he can't kill Hitler, but can't he stop a terrorist attack or prevent ISIS from forming or something?

Also starring Domhnall Gleason (last seen in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"), Rachel McAdams (last seen in "The Family Stone"), Bill Nighy (last seen in "The World's End"), Lindsay Duncan (last seen in "Birdman"), Lydia Wilson, Richard Cordery (last seen in "Les Miserables"), Margot Robbie (last seen in "The Wolf of Wall Street"), Joshua McGuire, Will Merrick, Vanessa Kirby, Tom Hughes, with cameos from Richard E. Grant (last seen in "Henry & June"), Richard Griffiths (last seen in "Gandhi").

RATING: 6 out of 10 best man speeches

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