J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Movement + Location: Lo-Fi Time Travel

Where would you rather live, a far future apocalyptic dystopia or Brooklyn today? A time traveler chose the latter, but she is having understandably mixed feelings about it. Yet, just as she starts to restart a life in our presence, her future past complicates matters in Alexis Boling’s Movement + Location (trailer here), which is now playing in New York.

Kim Getty is reluctant to make attachments, because she understands how awkwardly she fits in this era. Once she traveled back in time, there was no going back. Time travel technology only goes one way. Typically, people travel back by themselves, but Getty thought she had a way she and her husband could back the jump together. Somehow they were separated, but on the first day of each month she visits the arrival point, hoping he will finally appear.

Getty’s only real contact is with her coworker Marcel, with whom she does field work for a homeless outreach service. During their rounds, she notices a homeless fifteen year-old girl has the same markings of a future time traveler. Through a lot of fast talking she manages to get Rachel back to her place, but she found herself agreeing to a date with Rob, the earnest beat cop in the process. Amber, her BKLN party girl roommate is rather surprised to learn Getty has a “sister,” but Getty is just as surprised to find she might be falling for Rob. Unfortunately, Rachel’s teenaged naivety threatens to call attention to the deliberately low profile Getty, in precisely the wrong ways.

With its Brooklyn setting, you could almost think of M+L as mumblecore science fiction, but it is much more substantial than that. However, it is definitely a quiet, character-driven piece. There are no scenes of naked Terminators arriving through a portal of lightning bolts. Time travel just somehow happens off camera and we just need to accept it. Instead, screenwriter (and lead) Bodine Boling focuses on the psychological repercussions of such an extreme, irreversible situation.

Boling duly impresses as the brittle and reserved Getty. She also develops some refreshingly sweet romantic chemistry with Brendan Griffin’s Officer Goodguy. In fact, it is Griffin who really grounds the film and gives it heart. Likewise, the commanding screen presence of theoretical physicist Haile Owusu brings to the table as Marcel contributes further depth and integrity to the unusual character study.

There are times when you might forget M+L is a speculative fiction story. Still jazz musician Dan Tepfer’s evocative minimalist score gives it a vaguely disconcerting, science fiction vibe, while subtly underscoring the intimate dramatic action. Like so many genre films, the Bolings sort of lose control of the conclusion, but at least ninety-five percent of the film is remarkably assured, which is more than good enough for a high passing grade. Recommended for those receptive to a mature, emotionally realistic science fiction chamber drama, Movement + Location is currently playing in New York at the Cinema Village.

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