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Timecrimes

Among lessons to be learned from watching movies, one of them is surely: Don't mess around with time travel.

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In this latest mind-bending cautionary tale, a middle-aged Spanish man named Hector (Karra Elejalde) finds his lazy afternoon at his country home interrupted by some strange sightings beyond his fence. Through his binoculars he spots a topless woman and a creepy-looking man whose face is obscured with pink bandages. But going to investigate leads to a time machine and -- you guessed it -- trouble of the increasingly confusing kind: Is Hector going into the future to fix the past, or going into the past to fix the future? Are either of these possible? Nacho Vigalondo's compact, small-scale thriller is reminiscent of 2004's sleeper Primer, another time-travel brain-buster that eschewed high-tech bells and whistles. The sci-fi here is cerebral, and the tension derives from man's seemingly innate inability to manage time travel without becoming Godlike and/or screwing things up. Timecrimes is a simply produced puzzler-cum-morality-query with a resolution that mostly makes sense, and is a chewy bit of entertainment for those who don't mind a story looping in four dimensions. In Spanish, with subtitles. Starts Fri., March 13. Harris

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