Time travel makes my head hurt. No, I don’t mean I get a headache whenever I travel through time. I have no problems with that. I mean thinking about time travel at all pains me noggin. I just can’t follow it and get lost easily if I start thinking about the repercussions of running into yourself or changing something from the past. Even something as stupid as Back To The Future gets me all discombobulated.
This just gets compounded the more complications one adds which is exactly what happens in Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes. Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch or dig time travel movies. I just have to shut off the part of my brain that wants to know how stuff works. For example, telling me a virus turns people into zombies, okay, I can understand that. But then you hand me something like this from The Big Bang Theory. Leonard wants to go back in time so he can choose not to buy the time machine that caused Penny to yell at him and call him pathetic.
SHELDON: You can’t. If you were to prevent yourself from buying it in the past, you would not have it available in the present to travel back and stop yourself from buying it, ergo you would still have it. This is a classic rookie time travel mistake.
LEONARD: Can I go back and prevent you from explaining that to me?
SHELDON: Same paradox. If you were to travel back in time and, say, knock me unconscious, you would not then have the conversation that irritated you, motivating you to go back and knock me unconscious.
Yeah. This is the point at which my brain seizes up and goes “Wait. Huh?” then some voice starts to ask questions like “If your future self comes to the present and your present self kills your future self, is that murder or suicide? And if your present self kills that future self who has now come to your present but its past, have you killed a past, present, or future you?” Then another voice who sounds just like angry Lewis Black says “Fuck I don’t have enough bread crumbs to get home!” Then a third voice who sounds like a not angry Lewis Black says “Hey everybody, calm down. It’s time for lunch.”
So yes I can experience and enjoy causal loops and “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff” in a satisfactory manner as long as I don’t think about it too hard or dwell on it too much. I think that’s one of the reasons I love Timecrimes. I get a big kick out of what I call Puzzle Piece Movies, stuff like Memento or Pulp Fiction that doesn’t follow a strictly linear narrative. Héctor, the main character in Timecrimes, seems to be just as confused as I am trying to piece everything together, and the more he finds out, the more we find out.
Héctor likes to scan the woods behind his home with a pair of binoculars. Don’t worry, it only sounds creepy, at least until he catches sight of a young woman taking her t-shirt off. After some suspicious activity, he goes to investigate only to be attacked by a figure whose head is covered in bandages. He flees which accidentally brings him to a nearby building which he enters. Héctor finds a walkie-talkie on which he contacts a man and tells him about the bandaged attacker. The man guides Héctor to his location.
This man, it turns out, is involved in some kind some kind of research in a room full of wires, computer stuff, and a large tank that he offers to hide Héctor. Now then, if you neither own nor have access to a time machine, you may want to stop here to avoid spoilers cuz ain’t no way to go any further without givin’ shit away.
The tank, see, is part of a time machine, and when Héctor emerges, he’s merely been sent back in time about an hour. By now I’m already out of bread crumbs as usual, but at least I’m sufficiently caught up in Héctor’s plight that I care more about that than about how, why, or if any of this makes sense. The upshot is that we end up with multiple Héctors who all possess different amounts of information in terms of what’s going on.
One of these Héctors, I think it’s Héctor #3 at this point, seems to have the most information so far, and the whole thing wraps up the that particular Héctor basically deciding “Screw it,” and sitting down in a lawn chair next to his wife as a previous Héctor is headed to the tank building to ostensibly become Héctor #3. This, I suppose either breaks the causal loop or results in a Héctor #4. I have no idea which. And I don’t think Héctor does either. Final thought: it’s a blast to watch, but just talking about it this much, well, I need some Excedrin.
BODIES- Uh, 1? I think? Maybe?
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