Film Geeks: Welcome To Nonlinear Time!

As DNA is to the flesh, the code is to the soul, the blueprint to the psyche, a road map of destiny, concealed in our cellular biological fields. In death, code breaks into little pieces that break down to combine with other little pieces to form new sequences, like reincarnation in a blender.” – Isaac, from The Sticky Fingers of Time

If you’re looking for a mid-week Netflix rental to satisfy your inner film geek, you might want to check out the indie science mystery, The Sticky Fingers of Time (1997). It’s a geek-chic flick, kooky and cool and totally under the radar. The film, written and directed by Hilary Brougher, follows a host of characters crisscrossing through time, noir-style, wearing white suits, pointed vintage Madonna-bras, bio-engineered tails, and glistening mucous around their eyes (a sign of time travel). The tail even comes with extra chakras.

Writer Tucker (Terumi Matthews) is perhaps named as a reference to the classic children’s book, Tuck Everlasting, and the elastic nature of time. On a freelance newspaper assignment in 1953 in Nevada, she is exposed to the H-Bomb, and the radiation alters her soul-code and makes it possible for her to time travel. Tucker describes the experience like so: “a couple of hydrogen atoms come together like a billion sunsets, big and dirty, like something you shouldn’t see.

Tucker is living in true 50s black-and-white, writing a pulp crime fiction story, and kissing her live-in love, Ofelia (Belinda Becker, the tail woman). When Tucker suddenly jumps time and lands in 1997 color, she meets another woman named Drew (Nicole Zaray) who is born with the code mutation that allows her to jump time as well. Science writer and nerd hero Isaac (James Urbaniak) enters the picture to romance Tucker and drop seductive quantum knowledge on Drew. From here, the movie evolves into a fascinating lesbian-chic-hard-boiled time-travel mystery… with a little physics joke thrown in.

The title, Sticky Fingers, is a reference to the pseudo science-y definition of time. In the film, time has five fingers: One is the past. Two is the present. Three is the future. Four is for what could have been. Five is what yet could be. (It makes me glad that time is only counting the fingers on one hand.)

In the DVD commentary, director Brougher describes The Sticky Fingers of Time as “weirdly high and low tech, combining decades, typewriters and time travel, black and white and color, noir and a-bombs.” The movie scrambles time, style, genre, and it playfully gooses the nostalgic and devoted gadget-lover and modern-techie. In truly bizarre science fiction form, a character’s essence is even inserted into the soul of a giant time-traveling cactus. Unique, eh? If this sounds like your kind of flick, you should definitely add it to the queue pronto. Then put on your science hat, pull out those horn-rimmed classes, and strap on your chakra-enhanced bio-tail. It’s going to be a bumpy ride… through time!