NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

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Mark Leeper

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Oct 24, 2021, 10:25:07 AM10/24/21
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NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK is based on a story by popular science
fiction author Robert Silverberg. Though he has been a prolific
author for the last seventy years(!), little of his work has been
filmed. The only major exception is THE BICENTENNIAL MAN (based on
"The Positronic Man").

This film has a jazzy score and a diverse cast (and a touch of food
porn), and is divided into three sections, representing three
timelines, centering on Nick, Janine, and Tom. Each starts in the
boardroom of a wealthy corporation with somebody is giving a talk
that sounds like double-talk. In the middle, a "time shift" (or
"phase"--they seem to use the terms interchangeably) makes reality
change. Apparently changing timelines is "time crime" but that
seems to happen anyway. Nick thinks someone is trying to change
his timeline in specific.

Throughout the film people's lives get screwed up just the same way
they have been with time shifts. Things get entangled, and one
character says, "We can't change the past; we can just clean up the
future a little bit." (It sounds a bit like relationship
counseling.) Also, people tend to speak in aphorisms (like that
one, or "Happiness is the only thing more fleeting than time.")

Nick signs up for a service called "Past Protect" which presumably
saves your memories from this timeline in case a time shift changes
something. Oddly, memories from one timeline last for a few hours
when the timelines shift, but gradually fade. Past Protect has
somehow lost most of his memories but he can remember Janine for a
while. The idea in general creates situations similar to those in
TOTAL RECALL, though in this film Nick is looking for someone to be with him forever in love rather than trying to have an adventure.

The mechanism for the time travel is not clear, though the body (or
a body) does go back in time (rather than just inhabit the person's
earlier body). Not surprisingly, Nick's attempts to "fix" things
have a somewhat different effect. (One nice touch is a close-up of
Nick's hand in each segment, revealing his different marital
statuses.)

Released in theaters 10/15/21. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4), or
6/10.

Film Credits:
<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7099280/reference>

What others are saying:
<https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/needle_in_a_timestack>

--
Mark R. Leeper

Paul S Person

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Oct 24, 2021, 12:35:20 PM10/24/21
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Well, I added it to my list, I'll see if the situation improves by the
time it comes up for possible rental.

The "situation" is a Tomatometer reading of 37% and an IMDb rating of
3.8. But the latter is from 298 people, which isn't very many and,
indeed, could be mostly people who don't like the director or are
jealous that /his/ film made it into theaters and /theirs/ didn't.

Or, as one review suggested, because they are evaluating it as a love
story instead of a sci-fi thriller.

Whether I'll actually see it or not is, at the moment ... up in the
air. Bad films based on SF stories are not uncommon, but I do take an
interest in them. And sometimes find them better than expected.
--
"I begin to envy Petronius."
"I have envied him long since."

Bice

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Oct 25, 2021, 7:15:12 AM10/25/21
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On Sun, 24 Oct 2021 07:25:06 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper
<mle...@optonline.net> wrote:

>NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK is based on a story by popular science
>fiction author Robert Silverberg. Though he has been a prolific
>author for the last seventy years(!), little of his work has been
>filmed. The only major exception is THE BICENTENNIAL MAN (based on
>"The Positronic Man").

I think you're confusing Silverberg with Isaac Asimov.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicentennial_Man_(film)

-- Bob

Ninapenda Jibini

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Oct 25, 2021, 8:20:35 AM10/25/21
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eich...@comcastsucks.net (Bice) wrote in
news:61769168....@news.eternal-september.org:
Your own source credits the 1992 novel to both Asimov and
Silvergerg, based on Asimov's 1972 novelette.

IMDB (which I could consider more likely correct) give the
following credit:

Writers
Isaac Asimov(short story "The Bicentennial Man") Robert Silverberg
(novel "The Positronic Man") Nicholas Kazan(screenplay)

So there's some confusion, but it's not Mark's.

(Silverberg has 7 other credits on IMBD as a writer, 3 of which are
television. Only two of the television credits are movie length.
Interestingly, he also has an acting credit in one of them.)

--
Terry Austin

Proof that Alan Baker is a liar and a fool, and even stupider than
Lynn:
https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration


"Terry Austin: like the polio vaccine, only with more asshole."
-- David Bilek

Jesus forgives sinners, not criminals.

Bice

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Oct 25, 2021, 3:16:03 PM10/25/21
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On Mon, 25 Oct 2021 12:20:33 GMT, Ninapenda Jibini
<taus...@gmail.com> wrote:

>eich...@comcastsucks.net (Bice) wrote in
>news:61769168....@news.eternal-september.org:
>
>> On Sun, 24 Oct 2021 07:25:06 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper
>> <mle...@optonline.net> wrote:
>>
>>>NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK is based on a story by popular science
>>>fiction author Robert Silverberg. Though he has been a prolific
>>>author for the last seventy years(!), little of his work has
>>>been filmed. The only major exception is THE BICENTENNIAL MAN
>>>(based on "The Positronic Man").
>>
>> I think you're confusing Silverberg with Isaac Asimov.
>>
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicentennial_Man_(film)
>>
>Your own source credits the 1992 novel to both Asimov and
>Silvergerg, based on Asimov's 1972 novelette.


Huh, you're absolutely right. I could swear when I read that this
morning, it didn't mention Silverberg. Are you sure you didn't edit
the Wikipedia page?

Just kidding - I was in a rush this morning so I probably only read as
far as "Based on the 1992 novel The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov"
and that confirmed my pre-conceived notion.

Still though, the original post implied that the Bicentennial Man
movie was based entirely on a story by Silverberg, which isn't
particularly accurate either.

-- Bob

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