Film: Timeslip Night!

Top marks to Film 4 for some witty, fun scheduling for this leap day. Tonight, from 6.50pm, is Timeslip Night, where they’ll show four movies about time travel. Unfortunately I don’t know if they’re showing the TV versions or the original cuts. What I do know is there’s som really fun stuff on tonight. Here are the details.


6.50pm-The Time Traveller’s Wife

Adapted from the immensely successful Audrey Nifenegger book, this is a brave and not entirely successful adaptation. The odd thing is none of the fault can be laid at the door of the people involved. Rachael McAdams is typically great and Bana clearly relishes being an amiable every man instead of the wide-eyed killers or dutiful soldiers that defined this part of his career. Robert Schwentke’s direction and Bruce Joel Rubin’s script are solid too, although both carefully step around some of the book’s more creative uses of time travel.

In the end, it may simply be that Niffenegger’s book is too sprawling and weird to make a great movie. It certainly makes a good one and especially if you haven’t read the book, this is a good introduction to the story.


9.00pm-The Adjustment Bureau

On any line up that didn’t feature Time Bandits, this would be the oddest movie of the night. It’s still a surprisingly close run thing. Matt Damon stars as a US Senatorial candidate who meets the love of his life through random chance. Anthony Mackie turns in an early, very impressive, performance as the mysterious Adjustment Bureau operative whose job it was to ensure that didn’t happen…

A Philip K. Dick adaptation, The Adjustment Bureau plays a lot like a modern, slightly brutalist version of It’s A Wonderful Life. The central romance is really sweetly played and Damon and Emily Blunt have really good chemistry. Damon is impressive too, bringing his ‘slightly confused everyman’ charm to the role but it’s Mackie, John Slattery, Terence Stamp, Michael Kelly and others as the Adjustment Bureau officers who you’ll remember. Dapper, well-dressed instruments of stasis they’re Men in Black with better hats, Clarence the angel with a clothing allowance. Very eccentric and very much worth the view, if nothing else for the best associative chase sequence in years and one of cinema’s most important hats.


11.05pm-Source Code

Probably the most universally acclaimed of the movies on tonight and, to the surprise of very few people who know me I suspect, probably the one I have some problems with.

Colter Stevens, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a US Army pilot whose last memory was being on a mission in Afghanistan. When he wakes up on a commuter train heading into Chicago he’s understandably confused. When that train is blown apart a few minutes later, he’s horrified.

And then he wakes up again.

Stevens is part of the Source Code program, a short hop time travel project. The train was the prelude to a bigger attack and Stevens’ job is to discover who detonated the first bomb to stop the second. However, he has other ideas…

There’s a lot to enjoy here. It’s structurally brilliant and makes tremendous use of a single environment. Gyllenhaal’s on top form too and Duncan Jones brings his customary blend of character and subtlety to a script that at times desperately needs both. In the end though, this plays, for me, a little too much like a Very Special Episode of Quantum Leap, with added punching.

Although seeing that written down I’m honestly confused as to why that’s a bad thing.

Yep, setting the box for this one.


12.50am-Time Bandits

Arguably the best movie Terry Gilliam has ever done. A vast flotilla of stars show up, usually for about five minutes, in this story of God’s maintenance staff, the boy they inadvertantly sort of kidnap and a map that shows all the holes in time. Very funny, very very dark and absolutely worth it for Ian Holm’s height obsessed Napoleon, David Warner’s technophile Embodiment of Evil and one of the best endings in cinema history.

 

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