Tag Archives: Time Travel


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DIRECTED BY: Geoff Marslett

FEATURING: Kiowa Gordon, John Way, Lily Gladstone, Patrick Page, , , Alex Cox

PLOT: After three years in prison, Frank reunites with his pal Bruno to affirm that a murdered musician is alive; meanwhile, Colfax and Depew pursue increasingly desperate measures to remove themselves from a simultaneously occurring time-loop.

Still from Quantum Cowboys (2022)

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHA: Good times, looping and otherwise, await the viewer in this multivariously-animated adventure, with its scattered reality monitored by an all-observant supernatural entity, his recording crew—and his cat.

COMMENTSQuantum Cowboys plays like the fun-time menace of The Endless fused with the philosophizing of  Waking Life, with a story unfolding in the late 19th-century Arizona Territory. If that comparison doesn’t do it for you, I got others. While director Geoff Marslett hasn’t made a wholly new phenomenon, in the manner of igneous rock spewed from cinema’s core, he has through precedent and pressure forged a metamorphic rock, squeezing genres, tropes, and ideas into a film different from what has come before. And all its inner weirdness is coated with such easygoing charm that only upon reflection does the viewer realize a whole lot of odd stuff just happened.

Four layers of narrative interact and interlay as Quantum Cowboys unfolds. A pair of nobodies—sly Frank and honest Bruno (Kiowa Gordon and John Way)—shovel horse droppings as a band plays to a small crowd at the opening of a railway station. Mischief leads to tragedy when a US Marshall pursuing Frank for petty robbery shoots the band leader. Meanwhile, the traveling salesmen Colfax and Depew (David Arquette and Frank Mosley, the latter looking like a dead-ringer for a younger version of the former) attempt to make bank by importing ideas from the future to sell to the past. Looming in the background is the charmingly earthy Linde, whose ambitions include land acquisition by way of matrimony with a white man. Looming over everything is Memory, who attempts to fuse these various observed paths into a coherent, single reality.

Frank is our reluctant hero, pulled into the time travel nonsense triggered by Colfax and Depew, our reluctant villains. Frank didn’t experience personal growth during a three-year prison stint for robbery, but his release, and the unlikely events immediately following, set him on a path toward maturity—but one that can only conclude happily if he can engineer an outcome that doesn’t leave everybody dead. Scattered amidst his journey are plenty of alt-country music luminaries (such as Neko Case), as well as Alex Cox as a preacher only somewhat anchored to any given timeline. Bruno, with his simple outlook and honorable ways, gives Frank—and the film—a focal point; Frank needs his friend for direction, and his friend needs someone to direct.

I could easily tell that everyone involved had a good time, from the the sanguine trio serving as Memory’s recording crew to the multi-roled John Doe, who has no time for the other John Doe’s tuneless musicianship and coolly shoots up John Doe’s tavern to silence an unpleasant cacophony. Geoff Marslett and co-writer Howe Gelb (an Arizona-born singer-songwriter) let their animation team do their thing, making for a visual style that’s a coherent variation on being everywhere at once. The music rocks with a twang, the performers ooze charm, and the action gyrates to a delightful finale of friendship triumphing over obsession. As Linde observes the day after her nuptials, “Nothing’s meant to be. Especially this.” Quantum Cowboys probably shouldn’t exist, but, thankfully, here it is for our enjoyment.


“May I be the first to crown Quantum Cowboys the new king of the psychedelic western? Visually it beats El Topo to the draw. It makes your brain slide further across the theater floor than Greaser’s Palace.” — Michael Talbot-Haynes, Film Threat (contemporaneous)


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DIRECTED BY: Jorge Ameer

FEATURING: Oran Stainbrook, Matt Fling, Danny Fehsenfeld, Vincent Giovanni, ,

PLOT: Pandemic, violence, and sedition threaten to destroy the United States; a father and son embedded in opposing political organizations are its last hope.

COMMENTS: Like most movies, Altered Perceptions ends with the standard notice, “This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.” I’m going to go ahead and ignore that. With characters like slimy Senator Ted DeMarcos, bigoted Governor Ron San Diego, and an obvious George Santos look-alike as a spineless henchman (sportingly portrayed by director Jorge Ameer himself), it is clear just which politico goons the filmmaker is referencing. Indeed, the protagonist’s name—Alex Feretti, son of Dr. Feretti, a Whitehouse disease big-wig—echoes a certain Dr. A. Fauci of pandemic fame.

And what a pandemic! Sure, Covid was bad enough, but it seems that the vaccines and boosters for it trigger a nasty mental deterioration coupled with homi- and suicidal violence in many who received it, especially blacks and HOMOsexuals (emphasis mimicking DeMarcos’ singular pronunciation). This leads to chaos in the country, which a gallery of secessionist goons take advantage of, ultimately requesting that all Blacks and HOMOsexuals who have received the vaccine voluntarily check in to observation facilities in America’s South and Southwest. And oh yes, it affects the elderly, too (cue not-at-all-President-Biden being called on to step down); and what with the pre-eminent disease guy (aforementioned Doctor F̶a̶u̶c̶i̶ Feretti) being a prominent homosexual, it’s all looking very bad for various put-upon groups.

The paragraph above is ill-wrought, so as to better give you an idea of the narrative flow of Altered Perceptions—and I haven’t yet even touched upon the fully-frontally nude time traveler who is desperate to enlist the help of Alex Feretti, who is not only the son of the nationally known doctor but also the top aide to Senator DeMarcos. These shotgun blasts of social commentary, interspersed with interludes of well-intentioned guesses at what a gay relationship is like, crackle over the course of two hours as we watch society collapse from both macro- and micro-focus. And before I forget, there’s a strange plot from North Korea brewing as well.

Jorge Ameer kept my interest throughout, it is true. But much of that stemmed from the constant crinkling sound I heard as the plot unfurled. The screenwriter is a neuropsychologist, and while axes are ground, its never clear what they ultimately end up swung at. Ameer is obviously earnest, but his technical (and storytelling) proficiency is only a few notches above Tommy Wiseau’s. The acting ranges from C- to B+, with son Feretti scoring the former and father Feretti the latter, rendering their interactions one-sidedly stilted. And while I don’t hold clunky special effects against anyone, others do—and are so warned.

Still, I much prefer a film’s reach to exceed its grasp than vice versa, and while I could reel off any number of further quibbles, I’d feel petty doing so. Ameer takes a stab at making a Big Movie with Big Ideas under the restraints of a low budget. If you will allow the use of a crummy double-metaphor, Altered Perceptions is like a slice of Swiss cheese: there are plenty of holes; but also like a slice of Swiss cheese, it holds together just enough to make it a notable addition in the greater Sandwich of Cinema.


“… this is a glitchy, channel-surfing trawl through recent American history, where the dialogue is stylised and repetitive, the characters dumbed down, and the narrative unbelievable to the point of surrealism. Yet this is part of the point: for here, as in a Neil Breen film, artifice is foregrounded, the medium is the message, and ultimately it is the viewer’s perceptions which are altered, as Ameer – who also plays one of DeMarcos’ aides – infects us all with the maddening irrationality of America’s contemporary culture wars.”–Anton Bitel, Projected Figures (contemporaneous)


AKA Cosmic Disco Detective Rene: The Mystery of the Immortal Time Travelers; Cosmic Disco Detective Rene: The Secret Society for Slow Romance 2

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Cosmic Disco Detective Rene can be rented on Vimeo until 9/14.

DIRECTED BY: Sujewa Ekanayake

FEATURING: Sujewa Ekanayake, Alia Lorae, Natalie Osborne, Genoveva Rossi

PLOT: Cosmic Disco Detective Rene is hired to investigate the light bridges cutting through the Brooklyn skyline while his lady friend Allyson considers various potential film projects.

Still from Cosmic Disco Detective Rene: The Mystery of the Immortal Time Travelers (2023)

COMMENTS: Sujewa Ekanayake’s film tackles three topics simultaneously:

  • The current state and future prospects of independent and underground cinema, particularly in the context of New York City
  • Cosmic Detective work, focusing on a case involving immortal time travelers
  • Allyson’s butt, which is “looking really good right now.”

The particulars of the final item I will hold off on for the time being to allow more thorough discussion of the first two items which are the primary focus of Cosmic Disco Detective Rene (though considering the tone of this film, it would not surprise me if Ekanayake & Co. opted for a further analysis of the third topic). Join me now as I attempt the inadvisable and review the case results from the titular Cosmic Detective.

Ekanayake hangs his cinematic musings on a delightfully flimsy pretext: a government agent asks that he determine the motives of “immortal time travelers” who are passing through contemporary Brooklyn, hopefully so as to stave off the possibility of the US government sanctioning a nuclear attack on the “light bridges” used by these entities. That’s enough plot. Possibly, even, enough review. There are two disarming sequences in Cosmic Disco Detective Rene which make me question this exercise. First, I am presumably viewing this film through my “imperialist” lens, and as such, I will be bringing my own pre-existing biases and hang-ups to this process. (I will politely disagree with the accusation, and suggest I’d be happy to discuss the issue with the filmmaker.) This ties in with the second point: that each movie should be judged on its intentions.

Sujewa (if I may), that’s how I roll. While definitions of “entertainment” can, and should, vary, every film should divert the mind in some manner. This can be for motives as basic as simple amusement, or more ambitiously, to trigger entirely new chains of thought and reaction in the mind of the beholder. As Rene absorbs his surroundings, occasionally tuning in to the “Cosmic Disco” beneath it all—a simple process: place your left hand near your left ear, with that hand’s pointer and index fingers raised upwards—potential motives for the travelers emerge. (One of my favorites concerns dangerous future-bears.) Every now and again, socio-political asides spike the easy-breezy atmosphere, which prompted me to consider some of my notions. I have no doubt that is Ekanayake’s intention.

Cosmic Disco Detective Rene is akin to a train ride of semi-focused discussion while watching dozens of potential plot-lines and stories passing by the window. I give nothing away when I tell you that Rene solves the case; New York City is not leveled by nuclear weapons. And while that’s partially the point—otherwise this movie would not have its (primary) title—the real Cosmic Disco detective work is the ideas triggered whilst traveling along this nonsensical plot structure. If you want a linear narrative, think twice before popping this on-screen; but if you want some affably catalyzed food for thought about storytelling, breaking through preconceptions, and the nature of cinema—as well as plenty of shots of Allyson’s butt—then you should consider tapping into the Cosmic Disco and giving this film a look.

See also our Pod 366 interview with the director.

Addendum: audio review for film enthusiasts who prefer audio reviews.


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DIRECTED BY: Ansel Faraj

FEATURING: Ethan Walker, Kelly Erin Decker, Nathan Wilson, David Selby

PLOT: Todd Tarantula’s prized motorcycle is stolen; more disconcertingly, he keeps slipping through time.

Still from Todd Tarantula (2023)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE APOCRYPHA: Todd Tarantula renders L.A. in neon-sparked hues, a surreal effect heightened by the underlying grit of the smog-soaked city. The slippery narrative coursing beneath the death-candy visuals touches on ancient Pueblo lore, modern ennui, technological immortality, and a pleasing finish that is fairly rare in our corner of cinema. Also, there’s a skull-headlight time-travel motorbike.


I can’t tell if this is blood or snot! Can somebody help?

The scene is set with efficiency, because for Ansel Faraj, time is of the essence. This pressing speed is somewhat ironic when one considers that the protagonist, ne’er-do-well business scion Todd Tarantula, has time on his side. Well, more accurately, he has time at his disposal. This stubbled James Dean stand-in has his share of troubles—deceased mother, estranged father, dead-end life—but  at least hehas a bitchin’ bike: his treasured means of escape from the demons that pursue him. But over the course of an evening, he loses that, and considerably more.

Tell me one—just one dream—that’s all I ask.

Rotoscoping is a wondrous technique, creating what is possibly the uncanniest of valleys. Grafting animation on to filmed reality anchors us in form and flow, while allowing unfettered tinkering. Faraj’s peripheral tinkering is limited, for the most part, to a glorious color skew. Murky nights shift from green to black. Dazzling sun-lit cityscapes become a Technicolor kaleidoscope. Negative space morphs into clingy radiance. When Todd finally encounters his father, the wire-and-bandage-wrapped patriarch appears as a tethered angel amidst his array of hospital machines and plastic draping. During a car ride with Lucifer (a business rival of his father), the power of animation emphasizes Todd’s claustrophobia and draws the eye to the old gentleman’s skull-topped cane, hinting at the unspoken cost of the business deal playing at the tip of Lucifer’s tongue.

News of death travels fast; dare I say, ‘I’m sorry’?

Ansel Faraj’s film is not perfect. The performances are inconsistent, and the narrative thread sometimes veers too far from the main stitching. However, he has an interesting story to tell here, and it is told entertainingly, with many clever bursts. When he learns of his father’s demise, and the deceased’s disrupted attempt to achieve digital immortality, Todd is idling at the La Brea Tarpits—site of others who have failed to achieve a favorable form of perpetuity.

I don’t know what’s real any more, and I’m really fucking tired of it.

As events unfold (and, in some cases, re-fold), Todd Tarantula slows its pace, drawing everything together at the end for a finish that some will consider a touch too trite. I, on the other hand, was pleased, and relieved to see something pleasant and astounding befall this troubled bohemian nomad. Todd Tarantula sears the eyes, bends the mind, and has the good manners to elicit a satisfied grin.

Todd Tarantula is currently streaming free on Tubi.


“The search for his missing motorcycle takes Todd on a journey into the darkest and weirdest byways of Los Angeles… Todd Tarantula is like the lovechild of an unholy union between an urban dungeons and dragons quest and a ‘50s teen angst movie. To bless the union, Faraj and company digitally rotoscoped the footage in post production to make the colors, characters and scenery pop like a cross between a live-action graphic novel and an acid trip.”—Brian Schuck, Films From Beyond (contemporaneous)


Bor Mi Vanh Chark

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FEATURING: Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy, Por Silatsa, Noutnapha Soydara, Vilouna Phetmany, Chanthamone Inoudome

PLOT: In the remote Laotian countryside, an old hermit and a young boy are united by the fact that only they can see the mute woman wandering the long dusty road to the nearest village.

Still from The Long Walk (2019)

COMMENTS: We recommend not reading the official synopsis for The Long Walk posted on the IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, or the distributor’s own website, as it seems to carelessly give away major plot points. Perhaps the promoters thought there was no other way to get American viewers interested in a Laotian movie, most of which takes place on a barren dirt road, than by giving away the main twist. Regardless, this is a movie you will likely enjoy more the less you know going in.

The movie opens on an older man (a haunted Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy) stripping motorbike parts in the jungle, just off the path. He leaves an orange at a roadside shrine, then checks the time on his wrist—not on his wristwatch, on his actual flesh, in one of the few indications that this movie takes place in the future. Selling his scrap in town, he learns that the local noodle shop owner is sick and demented and on her last legs. He lives alone in an elevated hut where he vapes, brews strange teas, and ritualistically tends items in a cabinet shrine, including a female figurine. The locals believe he can talk to the spirits of the dead.

The action then shifts to follow a young boy living on a farm. He prefers exploring the jungle to hoeing the fields; his mildly abusive father thinks he’s lazy and good for nothing, but he’s devoted to his mother, who sells the family’s vegetables at a roadside stand. The family is barely getting by, the mother is ill, and there is no money for medicine. The boy makes a macabre discovery in the woods, and soon after he begins seeing a pretty but mute woman standing in the road. The old hermit from the previous paragraph sees her, too; and soon she brings them together, as the nature of the old man’s shamanic practice comes clear.

The Long Walk is set in a world where government-issued microchips coexist with ghosts; a world like our own but with a touch of sci-fi shamanism. The movie slips into its liminal spaces—life and afterlife, past and present, and through genres like drama and horror—gracefully, but also sometimes perplexingly. As with all time travel tales, it traffics in paradox; the movie’s morality, too, is far from black and white. It takes some patience to tease out basic plot elements, but clues and new developments are laid out at regular enough intervals that my attention rarely wandered off the dusty path that winds its way through the decades. The third act takes a potentially controversial turn towards horror; it provides a resolution to a subplot about the daughter of the noodle shop owner, which was otherwise a welcome digression from the main plotline, but has the disadvantage of forcing our protagonist into a heel turn that feels a bit too arbitrary and severe. Still, this decision adds to the mystery and complexity of the story and feeds into its theme about the unpredictable effects of good intentions, as it leads us to an inflammatory ironic conclusion.

The background Buddhism, and the presence of the mundane and the mystical in the same frame, will put viewers in mind of Thailand’s , although Do’s work is a more plot-driven and less audaciously poetic. I found the ambiguously emotional payoff to be well worth the effort, but the impatient should beware: the title does not lie, it is indeed a long walk.


“Ghost stories — and especially those aimed at art house audiences — might benefit from a little ambiguity and a certain poetic strangeness. But it’s a problem when the story becomes nearly impossible to follow for long stretches of time.”–Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter (festival screening)