Monday, March 9, 2020

In TIME THIEVES, Cosima Dannoritzer explores how we use -- and others steal -- our time

Remember those days when travel agents planned our trips, airlines booked our travel, retail clerks helped us find what we needed, and when we checked out, actual people rang up our purchases. More and more, we find this less and less. We're doing the work now, and actually feeling as though this is all terrific because, hey, we're in charge!

In TIME THIEVES, her newest documentary,  Cosima Dannoritzer (of The Light Bulb Conspiracy and The E-Waste Tragedy) investigates how our time is being consistently monetized -- more often than not by others -- to the betterment (surprise!) of big business and corporations rather than for us.

Ms Dannoritzer (shown at left) casts a rather wide net in terms of how she approaches her subject -- we get everything from a Japanese CEO trying to encourage his employees to work less hours to an actual "time historian" to time zones and railway crashes to a class of French elementary school kids (below) and their ideas about time. We also move from The Netherlands and Germany to the USA, Japan, France and Spain. Yet this inclusivity has the salutary effect of making us think about time in ways and though lenses we might not otherwise manage.

This also helps us understand how our time has become a product -- to be used (and maybe abused) by others.

Most interesting here, for TrustMovies at least, is some of the little-known history the filmmaker unearths -- such as the pair of what you might call "time connoisseurs" who put their dozen children to work bringing to life their theories of time and how to best use it -- for work, of course, never for mere leisure or pleasure.

We see how businesses have found ways to oversee the time of their workers (above and below), and how this has in some cases led to a hugely abusive workplace: timing and recording employees' trips to the toilet, for instance. (Parts of this documentary should bring to mind those sections of the recent movie, Greed, devoted to the workplace in Bangladesh.)

The movie's penultimate scene tells a tale that offers up a family situation in which time suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world. This story may break your heart, even as it renews your faith in humanity -- the French working-class version of it, at least.

This scene, with its French setting, may also remind you of that classroom of kids shown early in the film, as one of them manages to make a very good point about how the same amount of time can either seem too long or too short, depending on how much we enjoy it. In this regard, the 85 minutes you'll spend on Time Thieves ought to seem pretty damned brief.

From Icarus Films, and in English, Japanese, German, Spanish and French -- with English subtitles as needed -- the documentary arrives on home video tomorrow, Tuesday, March 10, via DVD and VOD.

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