Category Archives: Now and Then We Time Travel

From a one-eyed musician to a time-traveling spy: movies viewed (#SFWApro)

KUBO OF THE TWO STRINGS (2016) is an excellent animated fantasy in which the eponymous one-eyed pre-teen discovers he’s actually descended from the Japanese gods. Unfortunately, the rage grandfather Ralph Fiennes felt over his mother marrying a mortal (Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey respectively) has now descended on him full-force. Great to look and completely absorbing; Rooney Mara plays an ominous auntie. “If you’re going to blink, do it now.”

The Korean film MOTHER (2009) is a too-familiar crime drama in which a mother struggles to prove her mentally handicapped son didn’t murder the woman he was out with last night. I gave up on this one midway through — not really bad but nothing that demanded my interest either.

COME BACK TO ME (2014) has a young woman trying to make sense of her night terrors by videotaping her room at night, only to discover her weirdo teenage neighbor is using his death-cheater powers to kill, rape and resurrect her night after night. One I think I watched partway through while working on Now and Then We Time Travel but stopped after I was satisfied the protagonist’s issues weren’t time-travel related. I can’t say watching the whole thing adds anything to my wellbeing.

DIMENSION 5 (1966) is the Bond variation in which “Espionage Incorporated” agents  Jeffrey Hunter and Frances Nuyen use their time-travel belts to stay one step ahead of Chi-Com spymaster Big Buddha (Harold Sakata) while thwarting his plot to nuke LA unless the US pulls out of Southeast Asia. What makes this distinctive isn’t so much the time-travel element but how limited our heroes’ use of it is — a kind of crystal ball (see Big Buddha’s next move and counter it!) or make a fast escape from a danger zone, rather than, say, going back after a defeat and fixing things. Though as you can see, the poster plays up that as the distinctive angle, along with Nuyen’s looks and the presence of Goldfinger brute man Sakata (clearly they thought they’d grab more eyeballs than Hunter). “You can always quit and raise coconuts.”

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Time-travel love stories: some recommedations (#SFWApro)

Continuing with my recommendation for time-travel movies other than the ones every “Best” list recycles. Which is why despite its charms, Somewhere in Time isn’t on this list of love films  — that’s one everyone knows. And yes, I should have written this for Valentine’s Day, my bad.

209007_1020_AQUEST FOR LOVE (1971) is a personal favorite. It’s schmaltzy as hell and has the implausible Exact Double resolution but even so. Brilliant physicist Tom Bell is hurled into a parallel world where he’s a famous playwright (WW II never happened, JFK is alive and running the League of Nations, Everest hasn’t been climbed, to name other divergences). He’s also a complete douchebag whose wife, Joan Collins (and lord, was she gorgeous back then) despises him — can Bell convince her he’s a different man now? And even when he does, all is not well … “If the time we’ve spent together is all there is, it’s been enough.”

Molly Ringwald’s TWICE UPON A TIME (1998) has her as a frustrated business woman — didn’t get the promotion, wishes she’d married her baseball-star ex-boyfriend, tired of her beta-male beau — plunged into an alternate world where women executives bond over power croquet games, her mom is alive (better cancer treatments) and she did marry the ball player. By the end, of course, she realizes where her heart lies and it’s not with him … not an A-lister, but fun, and I like that Ringwald’s selfish parallel-world counterpart wants to get home just as much as Molly-One does.

FAMILY MAN (2000) is an excellent Nicolas Cage film in which angel Don Cheadle shows him the parallel world where he married his college sweetheart (Téa Leoni) and became a tire-store manager and yes, family man, instead of a corporate shark. Well done, charming and extra points for acknowledge the Leoni in the original timeline is not going to be the same person as the alt.version.

ME MYSELF I (1999) is an Aussie movie with Rachel Griffiths going through the Family Man experience. It’s fun too, mostly because of Griffiths’ strong performance in the lead.

11 MINUTES AGO (2009) has a time-traveler from the future (Ian Mauro) crash a wedding party in the course of gathering some samples for his research. Oddly, everyone remembers him from earlier in the evening, but why would he have come back there again when it takes so long to prepare for a time jump? Then he meets Christina Mauro, who remembers him very well indeed, and he starts to understand … I found this charming, but my sister and our best friend hated it, so fair warning.

HAPPY ACCIDENTS (2000) stars Vincent D’Onofrio as a time traveler whose come back from his dystopian future to win the heart of Marisa Tomei. She thinks he’s crazy with all his time-travel talk, but they can make this work, right? She hasn’t just fallen for the wrong guy again … has she? D’Onofrio does a great job as someone just slightly out of synch with the way people are supposed to behave in our time.

IL MARE (2000) is the Korean film remade as the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reaves The Lake House, and I think I prefer it (though I do like the remake too). As in the later film, two people living in the same house two years apart discover they can send mail to each other, fall in love, and try to arrange a meeting. It appears, at the climax, that everything’s gone horribly wrong, but is it really too late?

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I rode myself hard and hung myself up—wait, does that sound right? (#SFWApro)

It was a week that did not go as I planned.

I submitted my first Screen Rant article, and then my second, but they both took way longer than wanted. And that required really pushing myself, hence the title. I need to trim the time down, and I need to relax and have more fun with the writing too. I love comics, which makes it easy; I’m working under a tight deadline and specific format requirements which makes me veer serious. I did better with the second one though (I’ll post a link when it’s up), so hopefully next week will be better yet.

I have my History article on tractors 80 percent done, and I should be able to get it out next week. So yay!

And I started indexing Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast for a Createspace edition. If I’m going to go hard-copy, it should have an index. Annoyingly, I found one minor error in the intro, so I have to correct the ebook too. I’ll wait to see if I find any more — indexing is good for that.

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But I got almost no fiction written, which is not yay. That’s happened before and not that long ago — back last year when I was wrapping up Now and Then We Time Travel, for instance. However, I don’t want to be doing that now, if I can help it. I enjoy nonfiction (obviously. I’ve written enough of it), but fiction is the reason I write. And I do want to get two more drafts of Southern Discomfort in this year. So like I said, I’d better get more efficient.

I am pleased that despite the rush to finish up Screen Rant #2, I made time for essential stuff like exercise, and making sourdough bread while the dogs were in doggy day-care on Thursday. It’s important not to let even demanding deadlines roll over normal life, if I can possibly help this (and if I want to do Screen Rant regularly, I have to help it). I was sufficiently rushed I forgot adding the salt to the dough (sourdough buckwheat bread) but that’s easy to fix with a little salt sprinkled on each slice. It’s an easy mistake — I’ve done it before when I was rushed.

I’ll close with a shot of some dead leaves I took this week. It symbolizes … well, whatever you want. Free symbol! Please credit me if you want to use it.

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More time travel films that don’t get recommended a lot (#SFWApro)

As I mentioned the last time I posted on this topic, Best Time Travel Film lists simply recycle the same selections over and over. So as a new-made expert, I’m broadening the list a little.

CRUSADE (2006) has a frustrated young man use his mother’s experimental time machine to travel back to the Children’s Crusade (which also figured in the anime Sins of the Sisters). He tries to save lives as he travels with them (using his knowledge of basic first aid, quarantine, etc.) though he’s worried that by keeping the crusade going, more kids will end up dying or enslaved (it didn’t end well). The protagonist’s pragmatic approach — no worries about time-tampering, just helping people when they’re in trouble — gave this a different feel than most time journeys.

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TOMORROW I’LL GET UP AND SCALD MYSELF WITH TEA (1977) is a delightfully goofy Czech comedy in which aging Nazis in a utopian future conspire with a time-travel pilot to go back and give Hitler a suitcase nuke to turn the tide of the war. Only everything goes wrong, starting with the pilot dying and getting replaced by his identical twin … I love this one, which is available subtitled on YouTube (all rights to image reside with current holder).

THE GRAND TOUR (1992) has Jeff Daniels coming to realize the strangers staying at his hotel are bored time travelers visiting the present for the thrill of watching one of the great disasters of history—which is obviously very bad news for his small town. A TV movie based on CL Moore’s Vintage Seasons, this is an ingenious tale with a good character in Daniels’ inn-keeper

TIMESHIFTERS (1999) also has a time-tourism premise but it’s more about action than character. Casper van Dien averts the disasters one tourist is here to watch, changing the future. To restabilize it and restore her time-erased child security agent Theresa Saldana must make sure the next disaster happens without a hitch; as it’s going to kill van Dien’s son, he’s not okay with this. A surprisingly well-done time adventure from the TBS cable channel.

5 DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (2004) was a SyFy (I think it was still SciFi then) miniseries in which someone sends Timothy Hutton a 40 year old briefcase containing a case file about his murder, five days in the future. Can he identify his future killer when so many people around him turn out to have a motive?

SOURCE CODE (2011) has Jake Gyllenhaal waking up on a train as someone he knows isn’t himself … and eight minutes later the train blows up. It turns out that a government counter-terrorist project has projected his mind into the memories of one of the victims so that he can identify the killer by time looping the events — but is it just a memory, or could it be a new reality? I like this, though I should note that both this and the Czech film have a happy ending where the guys pair off with a woman who thinks they’re someone else — for some people that’s creepy rather than romantic (they have a point, but it’s not a point that bothers me if I like the film).

STAR TREK IV: The Voyage Home (1986) is the “save the whales” film in which an alien probe is destroying Earth in its efforts to communicate with the now extinct humpback whales. The Enterprise crew head back to the past to bring back some whales, but find San Francisco in the 1980s takes a lot of getting used to. The most light-hearted of all the films, with the cast playing characters they know well and lots of cross-time humor.

More film recommendations at a future date.

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Fame at last! (#SFWApro)

My friend Chris Manson publishes The Beachcomber back in Florida, and he interviewed me about Now and Then We Time Travel. Coolness.

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If you’re on pinterest (#SFWApro)

So am I. I’m not terribly active, but lately I’ve been putting up a board of time-travel movie posters and stills, to celebrate releasing Now and Then We Time Travel (and hopefully encouraging more people to buy it, of course). Click on the link if you’d like to check ’em out. The sample image below is from 11 Minutes Ago, which I quite liked. All rights reside with current holder.

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They are not Bill S. Preston Esquire or Sarah Connor and this isn’t Groundhog Day! (#SFWApro)

One of the minor frustrations on working on Now and Then We Time Travel was how often I would click on a “great time travel films” article and discover exactly the same list of films as the last time I clicked on one. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Groundhog Day. The 1960 The Time Machine. Edge of Tomorrow. Back to the Future. The Terminator.

And no question, those are the A-listers. But still, with several hundred time-travel films out there, you’d think an occasional effort to look for different choices would be reasonable. I actually pitched a couple of websites on this topic, but without success (fools, blind fools! They will rue the day—oh, wait, where was I?). So as the guy who has just spent the past two years watching a shit-ton of films, I figured I’d offer up some lists msyelf (and if this prompts anyone to pick up a copy of my book, so much the better). There are a lot of B-list films that are worth watching, and they offer an alternative to rewatching the A-list films for the tenth time (though of course, there’s nothing wrong with watching movies multiple times. I’ve done it with a few).

This week: films of danger and adventure. Okay, and one comedy.

Past Perfect (1996) Hard, cold cop Eric Roberts discovers someone is hunting down members of a gang of teenage petty crooks. It turns out they’ll become very bad people in the future — and so the future’s policy is to execute them for crimes they have yet to commit. To his surprise, Roberts finds this may be rougher justice than he’s willing to tolerate. I liked this one because it comes down on the side of redemption over retribution, and that’s depressingly rare these days.

Nostradamus (2000) Homicide cop Rob Estes investigates a case of spontaneous combustion. FBI psychic Joely Fisher warns him its one of a pattern of such deaths across the country. It turns out time-traveling fallen angels are committing the murders, which will tilt the cosmic balance so that when the apocalypse comes, Satan will triumph! Nostradamus’ prophecies play no role in this (the title is clickbait) but it’s a lot of fun.

Running Against Time (1990) Robert Hays has never gotten over the death of his brother in the Vietnam War. When he learns professor Sam Wanamaker has a time machine, Hays convinces the scientist to send him back to 1963: Hays saves JFK from Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy pulls us out of ‘nam, Hays’ brother lives. Unfortunately it all goes wrong … Easily superior to the Stop Oswald film Timequest or the adaptation of Stephen King’s 11-22-63. Among other things, while a lot of time travel films talk about the risks of materializing in the wrong location, this is the only film that builds that into the plot.

Triangle (2009) Melissa George takes a yacht ride with her friends into the Bermuda Triangle. They land on an abandoned freighter, the Aeolus, and become targets of a mad killer — but it soon becomes obvious all is not what it seems. And even then, what we learn is not what it seems … A very creepy, twisty one, and certainly the best film about the Bermuda Triangle I’ve ever seen.

The Visitors (1993) Jean Reno and Christian Clavier play a knight and squire transported to the present. Broad slapstick results, but it’s outrageously funny slapstick about the clash of times. Far superior to the sequel, or the American adaptation Just Visiting.

Between Time and Timbuktu: A Space Fantasy (1972) A young William Hickey wins a contest, and as a prize goes through a time warp. He meets characters from multiple Kurt Vonnegut stories, including Cat’s Cradle, Happy Birthday Wanda June and Harrison Bergeron. This blew me away when I was a kid — portal stories of bouncing into strange, disconnected realities always did — less so when I rewatched it on YouTube for the book. But it’s still interesting enough and goofy enough (“I’m not in control of my destiny! I can barely control my own bladder!”) to recommend.

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