Marginal time-travel films (#SFWApro)

Jumanji_posterJUMANJI (1995) was a pleasure to rewatch as two kids (one of them a young Kirsten Dunst) play the eponymous board game, unaware that it’s cursed—and that by playing they let out Robin Williams, trapped in the game world for the previous 30 years. This makes it to the appendix for the ending twist; with Bebe Neuwirth, Bonnie Hunt and David Allen Grier among those caught up in the ominous game. “You believed that? My father could barely hug me, how could he have cut me into pieces?”

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TEEN BEACH 2 (2015) makes the appendix where the first film did not, again because of an ending twist. In its own right, more stock than the first film as the leads of Wet Side Story are pulled into the present-day real world (which as they’re fictional falls outside my parameters) and discover wonders beyond their imagining (this would double-bill well with Pleasantville). While Stranger From the Past Explores the Present is a storyline I’m way familiar with, this was still amusing. “Goodbye people standing around in the background who never speak!”

PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948) stars Joseph Cotton as a frustrated artist who meets Jennifer Jones as a young girl (like The Time Traveller’s Wife his initial interest now looks a little creepy), then meets her again apparently aging years in weeks, and slowly starts to realize her talk of a New York from 30 years ago isn’t just whimsical … This is the kind of tale where it’s unclear how the magic works (time travel? ghost?) but I think time-travel is the best explanation. Beautifully photographed and well cast, with Ethel Barrymore and Cecil Kelloway as art dealers, Lillian Gish as a nun, Albert Sharpe as a barkeeper and David Wayne as Cotton’s tax-driver buddy. Jones, unfortunately, is too sweetly bland for the starring role. ”I felt an unaccustomed atmosphere—as though time were melting with the snow.”
I’m not sure what it says that The Asylum is now mockbustering Christmas TV movies but A SNOW GLOBE CHRISTMAS (2013) obviously riffs off Christina Milian’s Snow Globe (including Milian herself as the angel-in-residence and the most prominent face on the DVD box) though plotwise it’s The Family Man: Alicia Witt is a Scrooge-ish TV movie producer who gets to learn What If I’d Chosen Marriage, though I find it unclear whether she’s really in an alt.history or like Milian in the earlier movie stuck in a snow globe (there’s no sign anyone works or does anything but celebrate Christmas). In its own right bland business treacle, but the networks have churned out plenty worse. “Okay, omnipresent ghost/angel, impart to me your whimsical truth.”
IT’S ME, IT’S ME (2013) doesn’t qualify for the book, but after a slow start becomes a reasonably engaging oddball comedy in which a Japanese retail clerk keeps encountering doppelgangers of himself (“We will be the Me Empire.”), enjoys the perks for a while, then discovers one of the counterparts has decided There Can Be Only One. “Arguing with them is like arguing with myself.”
IZO (2004) has my perverse respect—given that it’s two hours of a time-traveling/reincarnate/ghost samurai (you tell me and we’ll both know) bloodily hacking up enemies in the present, it’s impressive that it can still come off as pretentious as Last Year at Marienbad with lines such as “Imperfection trickling down from perfection is the essence of existence.” An incomprehensible mess, though a lot of Clever People Talking Loudly in Restaurants (in the words of Monty Python) have concluded it’s a deep statement about violence and power. “Since I invested my emotions in your mitochondria, you have been the answer!”



Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

4 responses to “Marginal time-travel films (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: A few good books (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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  3. Pingback: Irony, time-travel and Christmas films (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  4. Pingback: Things That Resemble Time Travel (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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