Time Travel

A Ghost Story (2017)

This is not a horror film.  

Before you think it is, A Ghost Story is not a horror film, it is anything but. Although Ghost appears in the title, it’s rather a comic ghost that situates itself throughout the best part of this film.

One of the first things I noticed about A Ghost Story was the ratio setting of the screen, as David Lowery encloses the screen in a box awash with a vintage-esque filter. This was actually really effective and almost became a window in the relationship of C (Casey Affleck) and M. (Rooney Mara)

Through this lens, we see C and M living in their quaint suburban house, but what unfolds is a strange devoid between the two of them for some unspoken reason. Suddenly the idyllic relationship between C and M is thrown into the abyss as C is killed in a car crash. But this is when the Ghost comes into the story.

At the morgue, M identifies the body and leaves. But Lowery holds the scene for an extraordinary amount of time with the body and it rises becoming the titular ghost. He returns the house C and M lived in and watches M as she tries to deal with the passing of her husband. Lowery has a tendency to hold his shots for a significant amount of time and he continues this trend, holding the shot where M eats the pie. The stillness of this shot is incredibly, especially as the Ghost watches on mere metres away.

Instead of becoming a terrifying story about the ghost, it rather begins to transcend time as the ghost watches M leave the house and the new residents that move in after him. These moments pass by like seconds, as the Ghost watches them through piano lessons, Christmas and mealtimes.

Throughout the 90ish minutes of film, the film is mostly devoid of speech, but it rather about the movements of C as the Ghost. Lowery does lace the screen with beautiful and picturesque shots, including the shot where the house is torn down and the Ghost is stood there amongst the rubble, almost contemplating the destruction around him.

As well as being almost devoid of speech, A Ghost Story contains the perfect blend for the score, between the natural sounds of suburban life to the soundtrack and score becoming increasingly enchanting as the Ghost passes through the future in a matter of seconds.

During one of the new tenants, Lowery chose to have a lengthy nihilistic speech interjected into the film, which worked perfectly. Considering the Ghost glides through these peoples lives, almost as though nothing matters when all is said and done.

A Ghost Story isn’t packed to the gills with narrative, but it’s not about the narrative completely, but rather the interesting premise of this time-travelling ghost and essentially the message that time does continue when we are gone, regardless of what we can try to do to stop it. The performances displayed by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck are brilliant, because it’s not about the speech and over-egged performance, but the nuanced movements that are displayed by the duo that makes the distance in the relationship believable.

A Ghost Story on a large scale worked, but I doubt it will be challenging for a spot of top film come the end of the year. But through the subtle performances and lengthy shots, David Lowery has really created a window into this relationship and the perception of time. Although A Ghost Story slipped into the realms of Interstellar towards the end, it managed to keep it’s footing. With the picturesque scenes throughout and enchanting music, A Ghost Story will definitely be a more memorable picture than most I’ve seen recently.

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Time Lapse (2014)

This is one of the more peculiar films I’ve seen in recent times. Thankfully, it was bought to me with the wonders of Sky Go, as every so often add these weird and wonderful films. Much like Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, Time Lapse is a film centred on human nature with regards to three people who discover a time travelling camera.

Allow me to explain. The three friends, Jasper (George Finn), Finn (Matt O’Leary) and Callie (Danielle Panabaker) live in an apartment across the way from an elderly neighbour. The neighbour – Mr. B – has been missing for the last week and Finn, being the maintenance manager, checks on the apartment to find a camera that has a photo of their front room across the way. Confused, they assume he’s a peeping tom, however, they soon realise that the photo is from the 24 hours into the future.

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They eventually find Mr. B’s body in the storage unit, and discuss the option of calling the cops, however, Jasper fuelled by his own greed, argues against it and wants to use it for his own personal gain. They all realise the advantages of doing this, including Finn (The level headed one of the three) can finally paint without being ‘blocked’, considering the photo shows what he paints.

That is pretty much all there is to the story, but the director Bradley King adapts this around each of the characters intentions. Their intentions are sub par, typical revolving around money and them wanting to pursue their dreams (Jasper’s literally being to make as much money as possible).

As they continue with their lives and not destroying the machine and posing for the photos, it begins to spiral out of control when Jasper’s bookie, Ivan, becomes inquisitive about Jasper’s recent run of good luck. This is when it spirals downward into the depths of a thriller as the trio try to back their way out of a corner Jasper walked them into.

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It isn’t the greatest edge-of-your-seatt thriller thats ever unfolded, but with a plot twist, mixed in with the paranoia-induced frenzy that Jasper spirals into, theres enough intensity to keep you watching. A side story does appear throughout the film, starting off at the photo of Jasper kissing Callie. As Finn paints, the kiss goes on for too long, in which Finn storms off angry and jealous. (This is a little bit of a spoiler) This is where Callie’s motive with the time travelling camera is finally shown, she uses it to get Finn to become jealous and ‘fight for them’ as she says. She uses the daytime photos (That were previously missing) to send messages to herself, to make sure Finn fights for them as a couple.

As I mentioned, this film isn’t too different from Dogville in the sense of human nature being the reigning factor in the film. Even as they talk themselves out of the sensible thing to do when finding the body all for their own personal gain.

Admittedly, it isn’t the perfect thriller film, majority of it can be guessed, but it’s a fresh piece of work to be seen in the thriller genre, considering the use of the time travelling camera as the central piece of the puzzle. Bradley King’s use of the small apartment complex, with most of the story taking place in the the two apartments, keeps the story structured and there isn’t much room for distraction with spectacle. One thing I did really enjoy in this film is, as the film rolls on and Jasper becomes increasingly paranoid, his face starts to show signs of this and of course his frantic behaviour.

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The acting is fine, probably the height of it coming from Jasper as expected as he ups his paranoia and performance to give a convincing role. Callie and Finn are admittedly subpar along with the rest of the cast. I think the big triumph of this film is Jasper, along with the fresh approach to thrillers involving time travel, but the scripting to main theme being about the nature of humans when involved with different emotions (mainly greed and love though) is something that should be loved about this film too.

In by no means is it a immediate must-watch, but it’s a recommendation as the film is just over 100 minutes long and makes for an sort-of entertaining, if not interesting, watch.

6/10.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Confusing trailers including Charles Xavier alive and well in the future, and young Charles Xavier walking? Yep. That’s what I took from the Days of Future Past trailers when they first hit our screens. Albeit the whole Professor X (Patrick Stewart) being alive was my own fault as I didn’t see the post-credits sting in X-Men 3. (Could you blame me?) But the whole James McAvoy Xavier walking was confusing to me at first. But it’s cleared up, nothing to worry about, move along.

Okay, what is happening in Days of Future Past, set around 2020 (something like that), Mutants and humans with mutant genes are being targeted by these Sentinels that are completely badass and kill off everyone effectively. An impressive opening featuring new mutants, Warpath, Blink and Bishop. Blink was pretty cool sending Kitty and Bishop through portals and helping Warpath try to dismantle the sentinels. All very impressive, slick movements in a fast-paced action sequence.

Bryan Singer in this latest X-Men film has decided to delve into time-travel and the altering of past and futures. It’s a little hard to comprehend, but I can promise throughout the film it’s relatively simple. Kitty, Bobby, Bishop and the rest of the crew are joined by Professor X, Magneto, Storm and of course Wolverine and formulate the plan to save the mutants in the future. What caused all this sadness and desolation occurred in the 1970s when Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) killed Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) which caused the governments to take up Trask’s plan to stop the mutants via his Sentinels plan.

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Wolverine, the only man capable of withstanding the immense pressure this time travel puts on their minds, is sent back to the 70s, via a power Kitty has, to stop Raven from killing Trask. That is the bread and butter of the storyline. I expected when I heard this explained on-screen to be a continuous shift between the past and the future with the future mutants protecting Wolverine and Kitty primarily. This was not the case, of course the film would have to go back into the future and show the mutants fighting off the sentinels attack, but the film primarily takes place in the 70s with the younger, fresher looking mutants.

Bryan Singer initially left the franchise after X2 (which is universally agreed to be excellent, probably the best of the X-Men franchise) however, he was reinserted when he was on producer on the Wolverine origin story and X-Men: First Class, which were decent enough, but was also missing something. He returned for Days of Future Past and it was truly excellent and enjoyable. The casting was on point, which I believe Singer would’ve had a say in for the First Class casting of Fassbender and McAvoy, as Magneto and Charles Xavier respectively. Fassbender, for me, is a particular highlight as he truly embraces the role of Magneto.

Magneto Flying, Looking Majestic Of Course.

Magneto Flying, Looking Majestic Of Course.

In Marvel fashion that is fast becoming a norm now, comedy was included in this film, mainly through Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) of course but also the sequence involving Quicksilver (Evan Peters) disabling the room full of police officers and tasting soup on the way. This was largely enjoyable by everyone if I saw it with, I kind of hoped to see more of Quicksilver than the short screen time he appeared in. Magneto (Again) was oozing awesome when he broke into the pentagon to retrieve his helmet, in a sequence fairly similar to his breakout in X2. (Although his breakout in Days of Future Past was excellent as well, just like X2).

As I mentioned before the story however complex it may sound isn’t that complex and fairly intriguing when the storyline delves into history once again. As it did in First Class, using the Cuban missile crisis as a reference point, the assassination of JFK was Days of Future Past’s reference point. With Richard Nixon acting as president at the time of sentinel’s birth. But also had the Vietnam War including heavily in the storyline.

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If I had to nitpick, I found an annoyance with the introduction of Warpath, Blink and Bishop into the film, but that’s all it felt like. An introduction. Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen more of them, or them in the 70s, something along those lines. And of course, the amount of screen Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen actually received was upsetting (Although McKellen did do something completely badass in his allocated time) but I understand that it wasn’t entirely crucial for them to be on screen for much longer. And Storm, alas, I felt was just an inclusion again, like Warpath, Blink and Bishop.

Naturally, nothing can be perfect when it comes down to it. But for Bryan Singer to restore the X-Men franchise to it’s former glory days after X-Men 3: The Last Stand was task he took on superbly. The film is thoroughly enjoyable when all is said and done and the story is compelling, as confusing as may sound, it works. Either way, in typical Marvel fashion the post-credits sting (which you wait a lifetime for) is readying us for the next bout with the X-Men, however, confusing for those who don’t read the comics religiously. (I won’t spoil it for you).

(The questions below this aren’t necessarily spoilerific, but be wary cause I may give away some of the plot.)

But also, the questions that have been left unanswered by this film are going to be called into question. Will X-Men: Apocalypse feature Warpath, Blink, Bishop and Trask? Or have they sailed off into nothingness? What happens to Magneto in this now-corrected future? And Raven for that matter? Again, I believe the premise could be initially confusing for the next X-Men film, however, it could go back to the excellent X2 days. Either way, we have to wait til 2016 for it.

4/5