Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Desperate for a do-over

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

While all of you are sitting around eating turkey and mashed potatoes and cranberries (gee, I’m making myself hungry) and watching football on television and maybe the Macy’s parade, those of us in the rest of the world are still at work. Well, as much work as we get up to most days anyway. Not to worry, I’ll be having my own turkey dinner later on—after my kid gets home from school and has had her guitar lesson. Ireland may have adopted Black Friday to a surprising extent, but it still hasn’t actually adopted the Thanksgiving holiday. And why should they? It’s not an Irish thing. It is as American as pumpkin pie.

I have a lot to be thankful for, but somewhere on the list I have to be thankful for time travel movies. I have always loved time travel movies and, in fact, readers who have paid sufficient attention will recall that I have previously done commentaries on how to sub-classify time travel stories, my list of ten essential time travel movies and my list of eight essential time travel shows. You may even remember me writing about a new time travel film that I actually dug into my pocket and supported.

Well, that movie has now finally been unleashed upon the world—all six and a half minutes of it! (The more I learn about the filmmaking process, the more I realize how much easier—and faster—it is to write a blog post than to make a movie.) This is not exactly a review since, as a matter of policy, I do not exactly review short films but, rather, discuss them. You may be wondering what the difference is and, frankly, so am I. But the main difference is that I don’t give short films stars. And since short films are often made by filmmakers just getting started, I go a bit easier on them than I do feature films, especially feature films made by people actually making a living in the movie business. I have wondered, though, whether I should just make a section on the web site for short films since I seem to get so many submitted to me. But I digress.

Another reason this is not really a review is because I cannot be objective about it. For one thing, in my critical opinion, the absolute best thing about the film is the end credits—because they incude my name! Also, even though I have never met the filmmaker, Jordan Montreuil, in person, I have known his father-in-law for many years and was his college roommate.

Now, with all those disclaimers aside, I can tell you that the movie is really, really good. It is called Möebius, which also happens to be the title of an amazing Argentine student film I liked very much 18 years ago. Whereas in that feature it was space that was turned back upon itself like a moebius strip, in Montreuil’s short it is time that twists back and around. In a way, you could think of it, given its juvenile protagonist, as a junior version of Shane Carruth’s Primer.

The film begins with young Joanna, played by a very serious Glory Curda, working industriously in a workshop. By the words “Hi, Grandpa!” scrawled on a chalk board, we infer that this is a place where she has spent many hours with her grandfather. We are left to piece together what she is doing by watching the action and hearing an audio flashback which alerts us to the fact that she feels responsible for her grandfather being confined to a hospital bed in the family home. It emerges that she is completing his time travel invention, but the film is not interested in the phsyics or mechanics of how it works. This is basically a fable, a what-if story about wanting to change the past.

As with many time travel stories, there is a twist—the unforeseen side effect of trying to fix something. As human as it is to want to change the past, is that not in the end simply wishing for the impossible?

As Joanna’s makes her desperate attempt to make things right, the film gathers pace and rushes to a sudden conclusion. It may take us more than one viewing to figure out what, in the end, happened exactly. And, I suppose, the ending could be open to more than one interpretation.

Curda gives a lovely performance as Joanna. Less screen time is necessarily afforded to Hana Yuka Sano as her mother and Jerry Hansen as her bed-ridden grandfather.

But don’t take my word for any of this. Watch it for yourself.

You can also check out the Möebius film web site.

Well done, Jordan!

-S.L., 26 November 2015

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