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Two very different movies about time travel

By pure coincidence two movies from my Netlfix list that arrived yesterday touch on the same theme. However, one was far, far better than the other.

The first was 'Primer,' a sci-fi movie with no special effects. I didn't say bad special effects, I said none, nada, zero. It tackles the subject solely through good writing and creative shooting. Two buddies who like to tinker in the garage stumble onto a time machine purely by accident and hesitate at first, but eventually choose to turn themselves into guinea pigs for the sake of science. But ultimately it's not science they're after, choosing to keep their secret to themselves until they fully understand what their discovery means, not for any scientific reasons, but in order to avoid getting screwed financially. Once they start to get used to the idea, and begin sending themselves back in time, they use their technology to do the same thing almost all of us would do, they play the stock market. The dialogue is excellent. While most movies use dialogue to further the plot and explain every plot point in detail to the point that no actual person would really talk that way, 'Primer' uses the lines to round out the characters and to make the entire film more realistic. Ultimately, the movie proves a valuable point, not about time travel, but about filmmaking. It shows that you can get the job done with just good writing, not special effects, not big name acting, not flashy production values. This is a very low key, and very good movie.

And then there was 'The Winning Season.' It could very well be the worst title for a sports movie ever, which is quite fitting since it is likely the worst sports movie ever. This thing is a piece of crap. In 1985 a 12 year old little leaguer finds a Honus Wagner card in some old woman's attic and uses it to travel back in time to game 5 of the 1909 World Series, where he for some reason is suddenly 21 and for some reason sits next to Honus Wagner's girlfriend and then follows them around for a week like a lost puppy without anyone even thinking about it. There are about two dozen things I could reasonably identify as a fault by the filmmakers that renders this thing truely crappy, but bad writing, nonsensical plot, low budget special effects, and getting some of the rules of baseball wrong (like Detroit batting first when they're at home for game 7) are the tip of the iceberg. Then things fall off a cliff. When Ty Cobb steals the baseball card from the kid (can we call him a kid when he's 21? ah who gives a shit) before game 7 as a way of bribing him to ensure Wagner won't play, the man/kid drives Wagner out into the middle of nowhere and leaves him, before returning to the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, where overcome by guilt he puts on Wagner's uniform and plays the top of the first (remember kids, Detroit is the home team) at shortstop. The Pirates do go on to win the game when Wagner rides a horse back to the stadium, and the kinda-sorta kid is just as shocked as everyone else, even though they win 8-0, and he was told in an earlier scene that they would. Then he goes back to 1985 where it turns out the old lady he stole the card from is Honus's girlfriend, at which point I wanted to shoot myself. Yes, I know I just spoiled the ending, but I do so out of love so that you will never ever watch this piece of shit. The only thing worse than the movie was the blurb on it they printed on the sleeve the DVD came in 'A baseball card from 1909, Honus Wagner's first year on the mound.' Well kids, Wagner's rookie year was actually 1897 and he was a shortstop. If only we could travel back in time to prevent this movie from being made. Then maybe some of the budget could have gone into marketing 'Primer' so that more people could have enjoyed a GOOD movie about time travel.


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