Cronocrimenes at Fantastic Fest
|Tim League of the Alamo and Nacho Vigalondo during the Cronocrimenes Question and Answer session following one of the first screenings of the movie in the United States (2007).|
Growing up in the small working-class refinery town of Deer Park, Texas in the 1980s, I tried very hard to escape the place without actually leaving.
Being hard-up for a time travel or teleportation device, I used the very best substitute I had: homemade cassette tapes of the 70s punk and new wave bands that I loved—like the Ramones and Blondie. Closing my eyes with the stereo on, I could nearly always escape the depressing industrial area.
So, when I went to watch the world-premiere of the Spanish time travel movie Cronocrimenes aka Timecrimes on opening night of Austin’s science-fiction and horror movie festival Fantastic Fest, I was surprised and delighted to bump into an old friend. My pal: the song “Picture This” from Blondie’s 1978 multi-platinum selling “Parallel Lines” album, featured as an integral piece of sonic set dressing in the movie.
With the film’s poster reading “A trip back in time……from present to crime” it isn’t exactly a spoiler to reveal that a key character keeps going back in time, trying to fix what’s gone wrong at one particular moment.
When the character returns to that moment the song “Picture This” is playing.
Not familiar with the song? Not surprising. Even though it hit number 12 in the UK in ‘78, it wasn’t exactly a bit hit here. If my friends hadn’t fired up their ‘80’s record players, I’d never have heard it.
The idea that music has a transformative power isn’t exactly a new concept. Otherwise, why would I have been surrounded by so many people who surely remembered the 60’s when Bob Dylan played ACL?
For the premiere of the innovative Spanish-language/English subtitled “Cronocrimenes” writer/director/actor Nacho Vigalondo was in attendance answering questions. So I asked him about the use of the song.
It turns out the tune ended up in the film partly because the crew was playing the song a lot while they were making the movie. Thus when it came time to pick a song to clarify that the hero was back in the same place at the same time, the lyrics of the song seemed to fit the film.
“The lyrics for “Picture This” are so close to the movie” Vigalondo said quoting the lyrics: “Picture this – a sky full of thunder.” Indeed, a clap of thunder is a plot point in the film.
I suspect that if I’d grown up in big city surroundings, that I might not have held on so tightly to the music of another time and another place—trying by sheer will to get myself to New York’s mythical CBCB’s club in the 70’s.
All in all, the film’s surprising use of the song shows the influence of our friends, coworkers and neighbors on our lives, perhaps especially on what we’re listening to.
No matter how global our world and economy gets, sometimes it matters most what the people closest to us are listening to. If we love them, sometimes we’ll end up loving what they love as well.