Friday, August 5, 2016

Time Lapse

Though I love to see any style of film (with the exception of chick flicks of course), the horror genre will always be my first choice when deciding on a movie to see, whether it’s something I have in my collection or something I’m going to see for the first time.  In the strange event that I’m not feeling like a horror movie, I usually jump to a science fiction flick, and if it includes some horror elements to it, even better.  Now, most categories of films include a subgenre to it, like horror movies that include the slasher element or action films that interject really can’t have a film that is straight horror, sci-fi, action, etcetera…you need to add that secondary component to balance out the movie, especially if it’s a pretty farfetched story.

With that said, and as always, I’ll find myself in front of my television, too lazy to go and pick out a film from my library, but really wanting to see something that’ll move me.  During these times is when I switch on the old Playstation and peruse the archives of the Netflix streaming titles, searching for something with an average of three stars or more. 

One title that had kept on rearing its head was a film called Time Lapse in which the poster included the face of Danielle Panabaker.  I’m familiar with that actress as she was in the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th as well as having a prominent role in the television series, “The Flash,” so that’s one component that had helped me to decide on this film.  What sold it for me, however, was the description of the story, so let me give it to you right now.

Three friends—Finn (Matt O’Leary), Callie (Danielle Panabaker), and Jasper (George Finn)—discover a mysterious machine that takes pictures 24hrs into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop.

The word, “future,” was what held my attention and made me really think about watching this movie.  Anything about the subject of time travel or witnessing something from the future will always get me, every single time.  I’m a big fan of the Terminator series of films, which contain the concept of time travel and the effects of it on the world, and of the more light-hearted Back to the Future trilogy in which time travel is a big part of the storyline.  I decided right there and then to start the movie, staying with it until the very end.

Another piece of the  puzzle on why I’d chosen to see this film is seeing that the actor, Matt O’Leary, was included in the cast and was the lead male of the story.  In case you don’t know the name, he played Bill Paxton’s young son in the film, Frailty, a favorite of mine (if you haven’t seen that film, you need to do yourself a favor and do so).  I’d always admired his performance in that film, which I’d imagine would be a tough one for a 14-year-old, and was curious to see how he fared as an adult in his acting career.

Time Lapse starts, interestingly enough, as an everyday story of three roommates—the couple, Finn and Callie, and their friend, Jasper—living in a nondescript apartment as they lead basic menial lives. 

Finn works maintenance for the apartment buildings and notices an old neighbor hasn’t been picking up his newspapers or mail, leading him—as well as Callie and Jasper—to believe something bad has happened to the old man.  Inside a back room, they discover a huge steampunk-type of machine bolted to the floor and near a window that faces their front room window across the way.  As Finn, Callie, and Jasper look over and inspect the machine, it suddenly hums to life, swelling in power until a burst of energy happens, and they notice a photograph popping into a chute at the side of the mechanism.  Studying the photo, which looks like one that would come out of a Polaroid camera, they see that they are all in the picture, sitting in their apartment.  Not knowing what it means at first, they become obsessed with the machine, coming back to visit it every day until they realize that the machine is a camera that takes photos one day in advance.  At first, they make use of the concept easily enough to make money with bookies, but it soon comes to a culmination of very bad events.

I won’t go too much further into the plot of this film, but the concept is fascinating once the story moves along.  It’s a pretty smart and entertaining screenplay, which was done by the director Bradley King and writer BP Cooper, because I didn’t see a lot of this coming.  For instance, right after they discover that this machine can take a photograph 24 hours into the future, I just thought to myself, So what?  I really hadn’t seen the importance of that plot point until the characters dove further into it, discussing what they can do to use it.  At that point of the movie, I think I audibly said to myself, Yes…that’s right!  But you can’t have an immoral situation like this without having some bad consequences to mess things up…and that’s exactly what happens.

I probably only have a few complaints with this film and they’re very minor, not really taking anything away from the story.  One is pretty obvious and that’s the setting of the story, taking place mainly in the apartment of the main characters.  Though the director does an excellent job of giving us different angles of the apartment and breaking up the scenes between their place and the old man’s residence, there’s still a bit of claustrophobia at times.  The other minor complaint has to do with the character of Jasper and his behavior throughout the film.  With Finn and Callie, they noticeably change from start to finish, but Jasper seems to start off as a jerk and remains that way until the end.  He doesn’t seem to have any character growth, but then, maybe that’s what the filmmakers wanted from him.  I just find it hard that Finn and Callie would be friends with him during some of his depriving deeds.

Like I’d mentioned, the writing was niftily crafted and stayed a step ahead of me with the predicaments the characters found themselves in.  In that regard, you can relate to them because I think most people would always come to the conclusion on how they would be able to use such a device to gain wealth.  Yes, the message here, although clichéd, is that greed always lands you in trouble and changes you.  The friends go from being close and chummy to hating each other.

Though Bradley King doesn’t have many movies in his résumé, this one film earned him quite a bit of credibility, especially in the awards circuit.  In 2014, Time Lapse, alone, earned him a lot of “Best Feature” awards in such shows like the Thriller Chiller, Portsmouth International, Atlanta Underground, and Burbank International film festivals.  Along with awards in the screenplay category, this is impressive and well-deserved. 

So here’s my final “bit” on Time Lapse

The story starts off a bit slow, but it’s only for a short period of time.  Once it gets going after the discovery of the FPM (future photograph machine…I made that up), the story gets very interesting and captivates you.  It really takes you on the moral journey with these friends, making you wonder what they’ll do next to utilize their newly discovered “golden goose.”  Very good acting by these young people, especially Danielle Panabaker, and their performances keep everything realistic, regardless of the farfetched plot.  It’s dramatic at times, with a bit of humor peppered here and there, but the concept of that machine keeps you tuned in to see what’s eventually going to happen to these friends.  It’s a very good movie and I’m glad I stopped to watch it on Netflix streaming.

As a post script, I’m realizing how much I mention Netflix in my reviews…maybe they need to sponsor Cinema Bits since I send out nothing but praise for their company.  Netflix?  Are you there?

Anyway, thanks for reading!

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