So, I’ve just finished watching Glitch: Tersesat Dalam Waktu (English: Glitch: Getting Lost In Time) as I write this. (It will end up being posted later, but I’m writing it now, so I’ll just write it in the present time.) It’s one of the DVDs I managed to pick up while in Jakarta that is actually an SF movie, as opposed to mainstream drama or horror. (SF seems rare there, but horror is practically mainstream cinema in Indonesia, from what I can tell.)
Anyway, the premise is that some sort of time loops have been set up for some unknown reason, all over the world. The cast of characters — one pretty-people couple, plus a somewhat bookwormish-looking girl and the overweight guy in love with her — fall prey to these time loops. They have to go in search of answers to the question of how these time came into being, and how to control them, or they face a pretty unpromising future of being bounced about randomly in time.
The male lead, who is home in Indonesia on holiday from his studies abroad (in Japan) contacts one of his professors, who helps him find out some information. But there’s more to the mystery than meets the eye…
(Warning: Spoilers from here on in…)
The premise isn’t brilliant, but all in all it’s not so bad. The film is hurt by a few things, though: at some points, the acting seems somewhat wooden. There are awkward pauses during dialog, which I’ve seen in Korean TV dramas before, and which ruin the flow of the story. There are scenes where there is clearly supposed to be some kind fo background noise–for example, pounding music in a night club–except the music is absent. Likewise, on one of the beach scenes, the sound of the ocean jumps from nearly silent to very noticeable depending on the camera angle, which is a bit distracting.
More objectionable, though, is how the “action” soundtrack is at times ill-matched with what is happening onscreen; music that would fit a car chase was, for example, used as characters slowly and carefully pick their way down a simple trail and across a shallow creek.
Then there’s the “science” in this SF film: the ending of the movie, unfortunately, reminded me of the similarly-unfortunate ending of the Korean film 2009: Lost Memories, in that the ultimate key to the mystery of time-travel is magical, not technological. And it is further marred by the bizarre twist ending that, somehow, the energy that is released by the undoing of the time-glitch which is the success of the leading character at the end of the film somehow sets off the Indian Ocean Earthquake — yes, the earthquake that set off the huge killer tsunami of 2004.
I wonder if it’s simple a feature of SF in countries where there is little or no strong tradition of native SF that cinematic attempts at the genre will often revert to fantasy tropes to serve as the basis or explanation for the unexplained or unusual occurrences in the film? Fantasy was, as I recall, a much more (or at least more available) popular literary genre than SF in Indonesian bookstores, being the default generic signifier for “speculative fiction” (unlike how in some places, SF is used to include science-fiction and fantasy).
In fact, by these standards, I have to add that nearly all the Korean SF films I’ve seen at some point revert to, or indeed aspire to, the fantastical in one of its forms: the myth, the fairytale, or the outright fantasy story. Perhaps these standards are unfair, since media SF in the English-speaking world often relies on dumb science or no science at all… but the dumb science is, at least, presented as if it were science. Nobody explains the movement of the Starship Enterprise as if it is powered by a squadron of ghosts harvested from ancient Northern European battlefields, or imprisoned elves, or whatever. Even the most fantasy-based SF franchise in English, Star Wars, takes pains to dress up its Swords’n’Sorcery roots in the pseudoscientific.
Much more strange and inexplicable to me was the linkage of the time loops to the fantastical village and the 2004 earthquake/tsunami. But, then, I have almost no handle on the speculative imagination of the average Indonesian cinemagoer or speculative-fiction fan–maybe it somehow seems logical Indonesia would be hit hard by the resulting tsunami, given the fact that the time-glitch was set off when someone trespassed against natural (and magical) law law in a mystical “Invisible Village” in the bush on the Indonesian island of Java?
Still, the film has its moments. There’s a weird, nascent affair between two characters which is hinted at a few times, and gets cut off before it can turn into anything, but which I never expected would occur even as a possibility–and no, it’s not between the nerdy girl and the fat guy who loves her–and there are a few scenes were the comedy translates well, especially when a couple of characters are investigating one of their leads and a barfly girl (she may be a prostitute or exotic dancer, I’m not sure) goes all gaga over a man she believes is Japanese–the interest is mutual, and played for good comic effect. Finally, the uses of English are vaguely like the use of English in some Indian films, and it really jumps out at you how “smooth” a character comes off when using that language. Again, there’s a strange comedic effect I got a kick out of, in some moments.
In any case, like any SF film from a place where SF is marginal, it’s mostly quite weird, and worth a look if you get a chance. Or, if you speak Bahasa Indonesia, you might just watch it on Youtube–the whole thing is online, after all, but there’s no subtitles there.