April 30, 2009

Justify My Netflix: Somewhere in Time

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Somewhere in Time

Today's movie: Somewhere in Time, 1980 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this quiet little sleeper hit from the early '80s (also one of the big early roles of the late Christopher Reeve) has over the decades become eventually known by many as "The Greatest Romantic Movie Ever Made," with hundreds of moony-eyed fans to this day trekking every year to Mackinac Island in Michigan (where this film was mostly shot) for a convention to celebrate it. Because I remember it as being pretty good when first watching it as a teenager myself, so thought I'd use the occasion of it getting digitized at Netflix for instant viewing as an excuse to visit the film again.

The reality: Not too bad, actually. And a big part of this is because of something a lot of people don't realize, that it was based on a novel by revered speculative author Richard Matheson (who also wrote the novels that were eventually made into the genre films I Am Legend, The Omega Man, Duel, Stir of Echoes and Kolchak: The Night Stalker), in this case about a hip contemporary playwright who falls in love with an antique photo of a beautiful singer from the Edwardian Age, who so badly wants to be with her that he literally wills himself back into time to when she was a young woman herself. (Of course, the novel makes us wonder if the whole thing is a hallucination, the result of the main character's brain tumor, while it's clear in the movie that the tumorless hero actually does travel back in time.) It keeps the story smart, dark, and thought-provoking throughout, as it lightly plays on the edges of its script with the heady scientific subjects that come with time travel, paradox and the like, while still keeping gauzy slo-mo shots of well-dressed hunks staring balefully into the distance as its forte. Plus, good God does Mackinac Island look at its most beautiful here, what with all those people in fancy formal Edwardian gear crawling all over it; it's no wonder that people swoon over this movie left and right even to this day.

If I had watched it when it first came out: I would've rolled my eleven-year-old eyes a lot.

Strangest piece of trivia: It was this movie's fan club that actually paid for Christopher Reeve's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Worth your time? If you can stand the sickly-sweet syrup of it all, then yes.

P.S. And for the first time, today's clip is not of an actual scene from the movie, but rather is an amateur fan-made trailer, of which there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands at YouTube for every movie and television show that has ever existed. How astounding, I think, that this has become the new hobby for tens of thousands of teens and housewives and the like, the actual cutting and editing and syncing of professional-quality videos. What an amazing time we live in these days, I'm always reminded of.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:18 AM, April 30, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |