Yesterday I watched a movie! Here are my Movie Thoughts about Timer.
Full disclosure, I didn’t mean to watch Timer. When I started watching it, I thought I was going to be watching In Time. I was aiming for a sci-fi story about people with clocks in their arms that tells how long they have left to live and uses that gimmick to comment on wealth disparity, but what I got was a movie about people with clocks in their arms that tells them when they will find their one true love. But hey, I liked Timer fine, so it’s all good.
The Movie Thoughts that came to me during Timer is this: I think there may be a whole genre of movies that I recognize but which hasn’t quite been codified yet. Timer is a movie in which a company has a fancy new sci-fi device (which is more magic than science, really) and we aren’t exploring what the device means for humanity or anything, we are focused on a emotional arc of the characters. The sci-fi magic, presented via some company’s gizmo, is just a plot device to allow us to play through the character study and apart from that one element, the world resembles our own. It isn’t a future timeline or a fantasy world. We might get some offhand commentary about how the world is changing because of the device, but that isn’t the focus, and it hasn’t progressed enough to make society unrecognizable. (For example, I disqualify the movie the Lobster because the society in there has different laws and mores than our own. It’s too different.)
Other examples of this sort of thing would be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where there’s a company that can erase memories. There’s also Cold Souls, where there’s a company that can remove souls and put them in different bodies and such. Both are stories not about the science, but about the characters who just happen to access the science via the miracles of capitalism.
I may not be big on capitalism, but I like this gimmick for a genre. The idea that one could wander down to the strip mall and go into a shop and have some magic device that can power an emotional story arc. I can’t pin down a name for this genre, but it’s definitely related to Magic Realism or Fabulism, but with a corporate component. Capitalist Fabulism? Eh, someone will find a better name, so long as we get more movies of this ilk. And I hope we do.