Time-spinning sci-fi turns tedious

Time-spinning sci-fi turns tedious
while Shakespeare is shamed as a semi-literate buffoon

Time is literally money in the sci-fi thriller In Time, which is eerily in synch with the “Occupy” movement currently making headlines. The catchy premise for this futuristic tale involves a society where people stop growing older at 25, only to become beholden to a universal “time currency” that appears in a glowing digital read-out on their forearm. After a day’s work, your boss uploads a few dozen hours on your personal read-out. And if you buy a coffee or catch the bus, 30 minutes gets deducted.

The bad news is this is also a doomsday clock: if it runs down to zero, you “time out” and die. Most people subsist in ghettoes, living literally day to day; the unlucky ones keel over dead in the streets. Of course the wealthy bastards swan about in distant gated communities with easy access to centuries of time/money. This arrangement doesn’t sit well with Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a ghetto guy who hooks up with a banker’s bored daughter (Amanda Seyfried) and turns into a Robin Hood with dreams of toppling such a cruel regime.

Time has a stylized futuristic look, and boasts several fine performances, by Timberlake especially, but also spooky Irish actor Cillian Murphy as the gun-toting timekeeper who is on his tail. But once the clever premise has been established, the plotting gets predictable and soon devolves into a tedious chase. Although this movie exhorts the audience to use time wisely, it came close to wasting two hours of mine. M

In Time  ★ ★

Directed by Andrew Niccol; Starring Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde; PG-13 – 109 minutesContinues at the Odeon, SilverCity, Westshore

 

We now time travel from a fictional future to an equally fictional – or at least highly speculative – past, one where William Shakespeare isn’t the world’s greatest playwright but is instead a semi-literate buffoon. Anonymous gives rumbustious life to that longstanding belief that those glorious sonnets and plays were written by someone other than the Bard of Avon. Ben Jonson was originally credited, but the current frontrunner has long been Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford.

Nothing if not entertaining, Anonymous is set during the reign of Elizabeth I and the politics are particularly cutthroat: one faction is desperate to have King James of Scotland succeed to the throne when Elizabeth dies, while the noble Essex clan are surreptitiously promoting their own regal interests. These dire political machinations are elegantly mirrored by a very different snakepit: London’s theatrical demimonde, where the era’s playwrights compete for the rowdy affection of the audience. Into this world slips de Vere (Rhys Ifans), who can’t risk being seen participating in something so vulgar as live theatre (which is often censored and even shut down by the Queen’s puritanical advisors), so instead anonymously presents his plays via a proxy.

With its great sets and elaborate costumes, snippets of classic tragedies performed in the Globe Theatre, assassination attempts, royal incest, and a beheading or two, Anonymous is never less than engaging (even if sometimes silly). Best of all it’s an opportunity to watch superb actors like Ifans, David Thewlis, and Vanessa Redgrave strut and fret their hour upon the stage. M

Anonymous ★ ★ ★

Directed by Roland Emmerich; Starring Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave

PG-13 – 130 minutes; Continues at the Odeon

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