Friday, August 26, 2011

Los Cronocrímenes (Time Crimes) (2007)
SPAIN --- science fiction

Dir: Nacho Vigalondo

We all make mistakes. Whether we got into a car accident or ran a red light. Said something that escalated into an argument. Paid too much for something, when we didn’t really need it. We all have done something stupid and in hindsight had to wonder, what if? What if we turned left instead of right? What if we stayed silent, instead of speaking our mind? In these instances, some of us truly fancy the idea of just what would happen if we literally could go back in time and change those things? On the whole, we know it is impossible. For the man in this film, it isn't.

There have been many a tale of time travel in some form or another, whether it’s Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle", Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court", or HG Wells’ masterpiece "The Time Machine". "Los Cronocrímenes " from director Nacho Vigalondo continues in this tradition, and in great form. One of the issues I have always had with time travel films of any genre, is each film seems to be unto a universe of its own with its own rules about what can and cannot exist. Much like vampire films, where they disregard Bram Stoker’s rules and often branch out into ideas that really push the themes so far, they are no longer about vampires per se. The time travel genre is similar in this regard, and the complications are far more detrimental than vampire films. If you don‘t get it right in establishing the rules in time travel, you don‘t have a plausible story at all. Which may stand to explain why they are few and far between. This film appears to take on the task with unflinching bravado, and in every instance upon multiple viewings, pulls off its story perfectly.

"Los Cronocrímenes" tells the story of a man named Hector who lives with his beautiful wife in a country home they seemingly have just bought and are in the midst of renovating. One day, he is sitting outside his home with a pair of binoculars, and as we've learned from Hitchcock, those are almost always a device of great trouble. Hector sees a woman in the woods just outside his house who seems to be getting unclothed, and as any man, his curiosity is greatly piqued be it through lust or concern. When his wife goes out to town, he ventures into the woods by himself to find out what's going on. Hector finds the young woman lying unconscious in the forest, he gets a little too close and is stabbed in the arm by a mysterious man in bandages and a trenchcoat, sending him in flight for his life. Hector runs until he finds a building to hide out. Hecleans his wounds and searches the place for somebody to help, and eventually comes across a walkie-talkie where he contacts someone for help. On the other end is a young man (played by the director himself Nacho Vigalondo) who works in the building, who comes to help Hector.

Soon Hector is brought into a lab by the man as he explains he's being chased by a crazy masked man. By this time, it's early evening, and eventually, the masked man catches up with Hector as the man tells Hector to get into a circlular pool-like (not a hot tub) machine that closes shut from the top. In seconds he is immersed in the liquid of the machine, and yet the machine opens once again. This time it is daylight outside. Hector stares in wonder as Hector stands by bewildered. he runs outside only to come to the realization it's not just daytime, it's the very same day he is about to live over again. The man explains to Hector that the machine is a time travel prototype, as the two of them try to put their heads together to avoid messing up Hector's life, let alone time itself.

"Los Cronocrímenes" (Time Crimes) is a low budget science fiction film that keeps its concept very simple. It manages to be that as well as a taut Hitchcockian thriller. The director was smart enough to isolate the characters. The less characters and locations involved in a time travel story, the better. The filmmakers create an interesting color scheme. Not so much through cinematography but through wardrobe and production design. Both Hector's wife and the nameless young woman are both wearing red and the van that hits Hector A causing his accident in the first place is . . . you guessed it; red. There's a play on this where Hector A's bandage and makeshift mask is pink from him getting in the milky liquid of the time machine. My suggestion is the red is trying to streamline the people caught in this time paradox, and Hector himself kinda weaves in and out of it for the majority of the film.