Friday, February 22, 2019

A Message from the Future

A Message from the Future
David Avidan

A man from 3005 who wishes to be addressed as FM - Future Man (David Avidan), has come to 1985 to convince world leaders not to avoid World War III but to actively pursue it. The world that is rebuilt after nuclear annihilation will be a paradise and FM wants to make sure it happens as soon as possible. Naturally, people aren’t too thrilled with this idea, so FM is also causing natural disasters to destabilize the world. However, is FM telling the truth about who he is?

The director, David Avidan, was an Israeli poet of questionable reputation at the time, since his death in 1995 he’s seen a notable rise in prestige but at least during the filming of A Message from the Future, he was not well regarded by the literary world at large. He stars as well as directs this film and often the dialog aspires to poetic moments, usually to comedic effect although I’m not sure how purposeful that may have been.

What the hell is a superrock?
A Message from the Future is difficult movie to pin down, one moment we are at a steamy sex scene, the next we’ve lurched over into a rock song about radioactivity (it’s a hell of an activity), and then all momentum grinds to a halt with scenes of businessmen talking (to be fair these scenes do pay off in the film’s jaw-dropping conclusion.) One of my favorite moments involves a couple of newscasters launching into a back and forth that is filled with odd slang and turns of phrase. It’s apropos of nothing but very entertaining to watch, a microcosm of the film as a whole.

There is a distinct cheapness to everything involving FM and his time-traveling equipment: silver clothes, blinking lights, and bubble wrap. One the one hand this could be seen a well-worn joke about impoverished SF films of the past or it could be a cinematic shorthand for the mostly irrelevant SF tropes contained in this film. It all comes down to whether you engage A Message from the Future as smart commentary or satirical misfire. There is some enjoyable analog synthesizer music throughout the film, and even the rock number featured in its entirety is pretty catchy.

"No really, I'm from the future stop giggling."
Between this film and An American Hippie in Israel (1972), I have to wonder if Israeli genre cinema is an unexplored treasure trove of weirdness. A Message from the Future is more satire than a science-fiction story. It operates as an exploration on the influence of news, capitalism, and media while taking a few swings at the cheapness of pot-boiler sci-fi while tossing in some gratuitous sex and nudity. It is simultaneously goofy, thought-provoking, and convinced of a self-greatness that it doesn’t quite possess. A Message from the Future is a mess from 1981 but it is an engrossing mess that is worth seeing at least once. If nothing else, you will never forget it.

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