The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

That’s a funny way to sell a movie

with 22 comments

I think you know how I feel about remakes by now. In most cases they’re completely unnecessary. The argument “but Americans don’t want to read subtitles” just isn’t good enough to me. I’ve already made my view known on this and I wouldn’t mention it again if it wasn’t for a cover of that I recently got in my hands that boggled my mind.

The movie in question was Timecrimes, a Spanish science fiction movie.

This is a fun time-paradox story about a Hector, an ordinary man, who accidentally ends up in a time travel machine which sends him back to just about an hour earlier.

As we all know messing with time is a tricky thing. You can easily end up with consequences you didn’t think of and putting things right again can be harder than you think.

If you’re into that kind of stories, like I am, Timecrimes is an enjoyable little gem of a movie. As opposed to the case of Primer, I could pretty much follow all twists and loops it makes. Almost at least. If I lost something, it wasn’t crucial to my enjoyment.

Of course it’s got the distinct feeling of being low-budget, a style that reminded me of a short film rather than a full length feature movie. There is a time machine of course, but the design is simple. There are no spectacular special effects to speak of andI didn’t think about the cinematography or music, so I suppose it wasn’t anything extraordinary and as of the acting… Well, let’s say it’s not intended to build deep psychological portrays. But that’s not the point. Time travel stories aren’t generally about showing drama and insight to the depths of mankind. It’s about exercising your brain and having some fun.

I realize that it probably isn’t altogether easy to write cover texts for films. Especially in this case, there wasn’t much space the cover designer had to work with. The text on the backside was in four different languages, so the length of the “elevator pitch” was down to just slightly above the limitations for a tweet.

You would think that the copyrighter who had gotten the task to say something about this film would make an effort to write something really catchy, something that would be the tipping point and win the potential viewer over, making the decision to pick up this movie and not the one from the competitor.

What do you think they came up with? Considering the beginning of this post you might have an idea. Yep.

“Dreamworks will make an American remake in 2012”.

You could read this in two ways. The first one is:

“We all know that European films suck and we don’t expect you to consider watching a Spanish one, but this one has Hollywood approval, so give it a chance”.

The second one is:

“This will be made in a full-fledged Hollwood version as soon as this year, so you could as well wait for it”.

Either way it’s pretty stupid.

Timecrimes isn’t stupid though. I recommend it to anyone who shares my view that the time-paradox episodes of Star Trek are the best ones (next to the Borg, of course).

Timecrimes (Los cronocrímenes, Nacho Vigalondo, ES, 2008) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Timecrimes

22 Responses

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  1. I saw Timecrimes a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I can’t believe the studio advertised this one by saying that it’s getting remade. What a boneheaded thing to do.

    Dave Enkosky

    January 23, 2012 at 1:26 am

    • I guess it’s not the studio that is to blame but rather some distributor. But yeah. Seeing the cover I wondered if they’d even bothered watching the movie.


      January 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

  2. I am getting sick and tired of remakes! Is it really that hard to read subtitles?
    I guess I won’t spam you with my frustration over this matter, but still! So frustrated!


    January 23, 2012 at 1:30 am

    • Julyssa: What is your take on dubbing? I am under the impression that our subtitling is the exception, not the rule, albeit an exception I’m very fond of.


      January 23, 2012 at 6:17 am

      • I think dubbing is fine as long as it’s done in a honest way. But, dubbing is not the easiest thing to do. Personally I get irked when the sound doesn’t match the movement of the lips. I guess I am a bit spoiled! 😛


        January 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    • The question is what is worst? Dubbing or remakes? I’d say dubbing. But I figure it’s also a matter of habit. We’ve discussed this earlier and one reader articulated very well why it wasn’t so awful to him as it is to me.


      January 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

      • Yeah! I guess that if you are used to it, then you are used to it. Here we are used to subbing and therefore love it. But I think there are some pros to things being subbed, as well as some pros to stuff being dubbed. I think to me it comes down to a cultural aspect of it. I think one should respect languages as they are. It can be both interesting and educative.


        January 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

        • Being an anime fan, I have a strong dislike of dubs – but that’s partially because I can understand some Japanese, and mostly listen, and fill in the blanks based on the subtitles.

          I do think that a lot gets lost in the dubbing, due to lip-sync issues affecting the translation, the voices used, and the fact that the original director of the film is not directing the dubbing. Inflection and delivery are as much a part of the meaning of a line as the words themselves.

          And to be honest, American dubbing of anime is not that good when compared to the original work. Only thing that comes close is Disney’s dubbing of Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli work, and that’s because they have the budget to hire experienced actors to do the readings.

          Subs > dubs.

          As for remakes, reboots, and sequels, for that matter, it seems that Hollywood is becoming conservative in regards to material. I’d like to see a good adaptation of something new, rather than another remake, personally, and I hope that the writers, producers, and directors can realize this soon, and step up again.

          Don’t get me wrong, there are great ones out there. Star Trek and Batman Begins come to mind. But there are a lot of bad ones out there too – Charlie’s Angels, Alvin and the Chipmunks or Transformers, anyone? (Transformers had good visuals, but a terrible story, when compared to the original TV show, and that’s the main reason for my dislike.)

          The bottom line is killing originality in the film industry. It’s far more about business now, than art. It’s sad.

          My 2 yen,



          January 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

          • Lots of stuff in that comment, as always! It’s so nice to have you around again.

            I’ve written about lip syncing on several times before. It’s very distracting to me when there isn’t.

            Regarding the kiling of originality in film industry right now…. I don’t know. I guess the top box office hits often are sequels and “safe cards”, pretty boring stuff. Like pirates the fourth etc. That’s depressing. BUT on the other hand – thanks to new technique and distribution forms I think there is a chance for independent film makers to get out their highly orginal works. Maybe not in the usual channels always. But still.

            I don’t know if you looked at my top list of movies last year, but it contained about 50 films I really thought were good. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of the market. If we just look a bit further than to the top lists there are SO many original and interesting movies made. Especially if you go outside of Hollywood I reckon.


            January 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

  3. That is a very weird one, but something which is done regularly. I remember they also did something like this on the DVD cover of the South Korean movie The Chaser as the team behind The Departed bought the right for a remake.

    As for the movie itself, it was awesome. There are not enough movies about time travel.


    January 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

    • Well I guess there are a lot of movies about time travel but there can never be too many. 🙂
      If I’m to pick one favorite genre, it would be sci-fi. Sometimes it’s a bit silly but it never fails to entertain me.


      January 23, 2012 at 10:27 am

  4. Oh wow, that is some terrible advertising. How unfortunate. I quite enjoyed Timecrimes myself, although I thought it slacked a bit in the middle portion. Still, a fun underseen little time travel flick that could do with more attention.


    January 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

    • Yes, I’m happy to give it a bit of attention. Small and fun is what it is. I went into it without knowing much and was surprised at how much I liked it.


      January 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

  5. I see this on Netflix, I must actually get around to seeing it now!! I keep hearing it being praised all over the place.

    thanks for reminding me… 🙂

    Scott Lawlor

    January 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    • Go ahead! No excuses for waiting. In a world of depressing movies you need something lighthearted like this every now and then. Not world-changing by any means. But fun.


      January 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm

  6. Hey Jessica,

    One thing I just thought of that might be construed as a positive to that tagline about Dreamworks…? It could be looked at as…

    “Hollywood thought the story was good enough to remake this film. See the original before the remake is released!”

    It’s a rather hollow silver lining, but a silver lining nonetheless?

    My 2 yen,



    January 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    • That’s true. I’m a little bit grumpy I guess, looking at things from the worst possible angle. 🙂


      January 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

  7. I like Timecrimes a lot. It’s a smart, creepy little film. I’m sure I should be annoyed or peeved by the fact they’re remaking it, but I just hope this means more people get to experience an interesting story. Will I like the original more? Probably. But sometimes remakes improve on the original. I liked Let Me In a good deal more than Let the Right One In, so who knows, perhaps this remake will surprise me.

    James Blake Ewing

    January 28, 2012 at 1:33 am

    • Well…. I just don’t see the need for it. What is it that makes foreign movies so scary that you can’t just market the original? But I’ve talked at length about this in another post so I won’t do it now. I’m glad to hear you liked Timecrimes too!


      January 28, 2012 at 8:35 am

  8. Excellent Jessica. That’s two films today that have made my list by your recommendation. I actually quite like that little pitch abouta remake. In some ways it could be seen as confidence in their material and also shows a sense of humour. I’m eager to this now.

    Mark Walker

    September 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    • I actually doubt that the humour in marketing the remake of the film is intentional. You should have seen the writing on the cover… To me it just signalled that the people who wrote it were too lazy to actually watch the film.

      This aside – I think you’ll love this little gem. It’s not my number one timetravel movies, but it’s certainly charming.


      September 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      • Oh, I thought it was the filmmakers themselves that wrote that little pitch? If it wasn’t them ten I can see your point. Regardless though, I’m very interested in seeing this. Thanks Jessica.

        Mark Walker

        September 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

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