Timecrimes and Primer are currently available on instant Netflix.
Timecrimes (2007) – Rated R
“After accidentally traveling to the past, Héctor (Karra Elejalde) meets himself and triggers a series of mysterious events that lead to a shocking crime. The gripping time-travel story — at once deeply intricate and easy to follow — also stars Candela Fernández. Oscar-nominated short-film director Nacho Vigalondo makes his feature debut with this finely crafted sci-fi thriller.”
While Time After Time is my favorite time travel movie, Timecrimes is a close second. This Spanish import from writer/director/actor Nacho Vigalondo is simply brilliant in its recursiveness. It builds slowly but pays off again and again in the second and third acts.
Nacho Vigalondo was nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for his short film, 7:35 de la manana. I have not seen any of his other works. He not only wrote and directed Timecrimes but also appears in the film as El Joven.
Timecrimes has a confusing first act and is subtitled but stay with it. It is necessarily confusing and the other acts are masterpieces of plotting. The movie is not flashy, the lead is not handsome, and there are essentially no special effects. Revealing any portion of the plot would be a spoiler. Just take a couple hours off, put down your electronics, and watch this intricate puzzle.
Primer (2004) – Rated PG-13
“Quite by accident, an engineer builds a machine that can transport the user back in time. But his discovery comes with an ominous caveat: At the heart of this puzzling device, nothing is as it seems on the surface.”
Wow. Like Only God Forgives, Primer is definitely an acquired taste. However I would venture to call it the anti-Only God Forgives. Primer is all substance instead of style. It is not violent, sexy, and there is almost no action. It is verbose in the extreme.
Primer is clearly a one man operation. Shane Carruth not only wrote, directed and starred in Primer but he also did sound and production design, was the producer, casting director, editor, and composer.
Primer is realistic to an almost tedious point. Carruth portrays the discovery of time travel in an almost mundane light. He doesn’t dumb down any of the dialogue and the garage design is wonderful. You really feel as if they have discovered something and honestly don’t know what to do with it. The time travel is actually a byproduct of what they were working on.
I will say that if you sit down and watch it for the first time and tell me you completely understand it, I will have to call BS. While Primer is good, it is also a challenging watch. It doesn’t really go into unexpected territory but examines the nuts and bolts of scientific discovery.