Monday, August 15, 2011

Phill on Film

I've watched a few odd films this year, many of them have been made around 2005; films I either missed or fell under my radar. The most recently released film seen in recent weeks was Duncan Jones's Source Code, which for all of it's faults was still not half as good as it thought it was.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I watched a film recorded off the TV. Called The Jacket, made in 2005, it starred Adrien Brody and was essentially an existential version of Source Code. There seemed to be an underlying theme in many of the films I watched - time and travel and sometimes the two together. Tideland was a disturbing film which under normal circumstances would have taken the title for most weird and fucked up movie, that was also made in 2005, had it not been for the film I watched tonight, which in its own way is all about time.

Cashback was made in 2004 and 2006. It started as a short and was developed into a feature. Its average is 2005. Here's the pitch as I see it: It's the story of an art student who gets dumped by his girlfriend for suggesting they split up because he's resigned to the fact that he'll never totally please her. As a result, he succumbs to a severe case of insomnia that allows him to eventually stop time, in between seconds - he can do this for as long as he likes until he cracks his fingers when it all starts again. Now, because our hero Ben is awake 24/7, he decides to take a job at his local Sainsbury's working nights.

His nocturnal world is shared by a menagerie of idiots and buffoons he works with and Sharon, the till girl he's slowly falling in love with. Also sharing his life is his best friend Shaun, who is pretty much guaranteed a laugh every time he is on screen, his ex-girlfriend, who looms large in the background throughout, especially through her coincidental links to Ben's new night life. The general story line follows a well worn path - the path to true love and all its hurdles and unintentional little things that try to get in its way. The thing, apart from the stopping of time, that makes it stand above lots of films with the same kind of love story going on is the lead character's fascination with naked women.

If you watch parts of this film with the sound off you would think you were watching a perverts wildest dream - it has more nudity in it and exposed female rude bits on display than a year's worth of Men Only - yet even with all this flesh on display, it's sort of essential to the plot and Ben's development and realisation. There is a scene, shortly after his discovery of his power that echoes Nicholas Baker's The Fermata, when Ben puts all the female customers in the store in states of varying undress and yet for all of this it doesn't feel like you're being deliberately titillated; it's like it's being used as an allegory for how desensitised we become about almost everything. Eventually, all the plot threads fall into place; there's a feel good element and a satisfying ending - pretty much want you want from a film like this.

The special effects are also quite excellent, considering the film was made on such a small budget and Sean Biggerstaff and Emilia Fox are both exceptional. I sort of think people would like it and I think as long as you warn people that there is gratuitous nakedness throughout the film, which somehow belongs there, then they'd get as much enjoyment out of it as I did. I think it's a really excellent unknown film.

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