Thursday, January 14, 2016

Philip K. Dick ’16: ReStart (short)

How does a shadowy corporation turn a profit from endlessly sending an abducted woman back in time to witness her own kidnapping? Apparently, they make it up on volume. However, the unwilling Andrea will try to break her pernicious time loop in Olga Osorio’s short film ReStart (trailer here), which screens during the 2016 Philip K. Dick Film Festival in New York.

Andrea has deduced the unremarkable and unattached nature of her life is what made her a perfect time travel guinea pig. Nobody will/has/is miss/ed/ing her. She might have started out as a mousy Bridget Jones, but she has transformed herself into an Ellen Ripley. Never knowing when she might be thrown back again, she trains constantly. She also thoroughly reads the volume on psychics and time travel theory her captors so thoughtfully provided. She intends to break the cycle, but that will probably mean more scuffling with her abductors back at that fateful moment.

There have been a lot of cool time travel films relatively recently (Timecrimes, 11 A.M., The Infinite Man, I’ll Follow You Down, the forthcoming Synchronicity), so the stakes have really been raised for several selections at this year’s PKD Fest. Osorio’s approach to Andrea’s time loop is pretty well thought out, but the villainous research company makes no sense at all.

Even evil corporations have evil shareholders. At some point, the evil CEO will have to explain to them they have been conducting highly unethical experiments that are super mean and massively expensive that have so far yielded no return and are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. That will make for a really awkward annual meeting.

Still, the small but significant ways Andrea rebels against her captors are quite clever. In fact, Marta Larralde is really impressive as the not exactly empowered, but proactive protagonist. Osorio and cinematographer Suso Bello give it all an icily severe look and vibe that is rather distinctive. The hat-tip to Asimov is also good karma. Frankly, the whole film would have made more sense if it had been a government lab spending tax money and abusing tax payers, because that is what bureaucrats do. Not the best time travel film of the year, but not without some merits, ReStart screens as part of a short film block tomorrow (1/15) at the Cinema Village, as part of this year’s Philip K. Dick Film Festival.