Continuing with this series of 47 moments in film that I love (Why 47?), today we hit #22. This week we’re going to be talking a lot about Summer Time Machine Blues, a favorite film of mine from 2005. It’s the focus of our Weekly Geeky Question, and I just posted a detailed plot summary in order to make sense out the Question I’ll be posting in a couple of days.
Anyway, I wanted to feature the movie here a couple of times to highlight two of my favorite moments, so it felt appropriate to do it now.
Incidentally, because I’ve just done a whole bunch of screenshots for my other posts, I thought I’d use them here to better visualize the moments I want to talk about.
Summer Time Machine Blues (2005)
Directed by: Katsuyuki Motohiro
A group of awkward college students attempt to use a time machine they found to save their air conditioner from breaking, but then become concerned about the potential impact this could have on the stability of the universe!
It’s been a really strange August day. The Sci-Fi club is struggling because of the heat, but more than that people are acting strange and turning up at the most unexpected times and places. After a friendly game of baseball, and then a clean-up at the local public bath, college student Komoto has slipped away from his group in the midst of all this to buy movie tickets so he can take one of their friends out on a date, but when he returns to their Clubhouse, something really strange takes place.
Komoto walks in to the unexpected sight of all his friends (the other four members of the Sci-Fi Club, plus the two members of the neighbouring Photography Club, including Haruka, the girl he wants to ask out) all staring out the window, trying to see something. When they turn and notice that he’s entered, they all cheer in excitement…he’s brought a wash basin! He’s going to do it!
Komoto, however, has no idea what they are talking about. It doesn’t matter though, the others all position themselves to watch.
When Komoto insists he doesn’t know what they want him to do, Soga attempts to demonstrate. Unfortunately, he’s drinking some sort of strange paste he was given earlier by the college’s eccentric caretaker (I have no idea what this stuff is, if anyone knows I’d love to hear about it), and in his excitement he accidentally spills it all over Koizumi, sitting nearby.
Koizumi knocks his head back, bumping into Ishimatsu, who in turn collides into Ito who was holding her camera, ready to record Komoto’s production.
This causes Ito to slip over accidentally fling her camera over her head. The camera gracefully arcs through the air.
Haruka (the girl Komoto likes) manages to grab, but she falls over in the process and bumps into another boy, Niimi.
Causing him to spill his bottle of coke all over the remote control for their air conditioner (a valuable commodity in these hot summer days)
Everyone reacis, but it’s too late, the remote is ruined. Panic and pandemonium break out.
Leaving Komoto to wonder…what is going on?
Of course, the still imagery doesn’t really capture the fullness of why I love this scene. The entire accident is done in a sort of super slow motion with a strange and highly synthesized drum-focused soundtrack playing. Other than the music, nearly the only sounds are some foley sound effects, magnified to become punctuation marks in the rhythm of the scene – the liquid splurping, people’s heads hitting the camera, the coke bottle spilling. The whole thing ends up becoming kind of hypnotic, where you can’t really believe what you are watching, but you dare not look away.
The whole rest of the movie is about the characters responding to this moment. Everyone sort of goes crazy when they can’t get their air conditioner to work, which leads them to more-or-less risk the cohesion of the universe to get it back. As we say when teaching about dramatic scriptwriting, it doesn’t really matter what the stakes are as long as they are important to the main characters.