Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Non-Linear Timelines

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

This week on Thursday Movie Picks, we're looking at movies with non-linear timelines. Time always moves forwards of course, but with film, we have the capability to rewind, fast forward, double back, start over... we can view a series of events in pretty much any way we want. And these movies take advantage of that.

Cloud Atlas (Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer, 2012) This wildly ambitious film, adapted from David Mitchell's Russian nesting doll of a novel, probably never should have been made. The book has such a literary conceit that it's nearly impossible to adapt to cinematic form, but God bless the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer for trying. Whole long sections of this are just thrilling arias of pure cinematic expression, linking stories hundreds of years and thousands of miles apart by the elemental forces of human experiences. The overarching story (such as it is) is about the journey of a soul as it learns over the course of several lifetimes what it means to be good. The ensemble cast is full of some spotty performances (and some even spottier makeup), but Halle Berry, Doona Bae, and a near-unrecognizable Hugh Grant have never been better than they are in sections of this.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) How this didn't win every single goddamn award walking away in 2004, I'll never know. It's a goddamn masterpiece, with career-best work from Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, Charlie Kaufman, and Michel Gondry. Nothing I could write about it will ever top this that I wrote four years ago, so I won't even try.

The Rules of Attraction (Roger Avary, 2002) Oh those wild and crazy kids! What ever will they do to fuck themselves up next? This Bret Easton Ellis adaptation throws so much style at the wall to see what sticks, and a surprising amount of it does. Hopping back and forth between different attendees at a fateful college party and what led them to make the decisions they made there, we watch as teen heartthrobs Jessica Biel, James Van Der Beek, Ian Somerhalder, Kate Bosworth, and Kip Pardue do some VERY bad things, to themselves and to each other! The movie as a whole holds together only barely, but the best scenes (including a homoerotic bedroom dance/pillow fight to George Michael's "Faith", a rapid fast-forward through an entire vacation abroad, and one of the best, most effective suicide scenes ever put on film) really linger.


  1. Perfect picks for the theme. I hated the first two. I know mine is a minority opinion on Eternal Sunshine but I really tried with Cloud Atlas but it was such an endless confusing mess of a thing. I could barely tolerate the third but they all fit very well.

    This week turned out to be a tougher than I expected but I think I managed to find three that fit.

    Out of the Past (1947)-Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is trying to restart his life in a small Sierra Nevada town running a filling station when a henchman of his old fremeny Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) shows up and pulls him back in to hunt down Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) who has stolen $40,000 from Whit and shot him four times. Sterling doesn’t care about the money he just wants the girl back. And we’re off on a time jumping tale of greed, vengeance, hate and treachery. So begins one of the quintessential noirs based on the novel Build My Gallows High with two fantastic male leads and one of the queens of the genre, Jane Greer, in her best performance as black hearted pit viper Kathie.

    Two for the Road (1967)-As wealthy Joanna (Audrey Hepburn) and Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) take a three day journey from their London home to St. Tropez for the unveiling of an opulent home Mark has designed they reflect back on their now 10 year old crumbling marriage. The film follows a non-linear time table as it jumps through the various phases of the Wallace’s courtship, marriage and estrangement.

    Go (1999)- Grocery store clerk Simon (Desmond Askew) occasionally sells drugs from his cash register at work, so when soap opera actors Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr) come looking for Ecstasy on a quiet Christmas Eve, they are surprised to find Ronna (Sarah Polley) covering his shift. Desperate for money, Ronna decides to become an impromptu drug dealer, unaware that Adam and Zack are secretly working for obsessed narcotics officer Burke (William Fichtner). That’s just the set up for the crazy quilt of a film that follows. Challenging, confusing and funny.

  2. Eternal Sunshine is so great! I never saw the other two. Cloud Atlas looked confusing lol

  3. The first 2 films are ones I have been meaning to see and still haven't and not sure about the 3rd one at all.

  4. Rules of Attraction is so damn underrated. That montage you mentioned is incredible and that is one wild movie!

  5. I've only seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I agree with you, it's a masterpiece!

  6. Cloud Atlas is so underrated. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, ESotSM is just flat brillaint. Haven't seen Rules of Attraction, yet.