This movie is not for everyone. And while I was watching it I was struggling whether this movie was for me. This is a movie that definitely requires coffee. Because Tan Pin Pin uses a series of static long takes in her documentary In Time To Come. It’s a deliberate method in capturing specific places. Other films have done this before, an example being Ron Fricke’s Samsara. That’s a movie with a wider, worldly scope and faster pace. It also depicts animals and people moving through spaces like blood cells from arteries. Pardon the comparison, but this is my way of approaching Tan’s thematic concerns.
Instead of showing the world, Tan focuses on her home town of Singapore. She depicts its citizens and and their humble work. The first scene that jolted me is one about ten minutes in. Here, a crane operator tries to chop off a tree branch but the latter snaps violently, whipping both apart. This is when I realized where Tan’s interests lie. The film depicts understandable dysfunction, a city where people aren’t infallible and things can go wrong. And like places where humans intervene, she’s depicting a city in constant growth and vigilant repair.
One of the film’s main story arcs shows workers unearthing a mammoth 15-year-old time capsule made of steel. In it, we see things like bottled water samples from the turn of the 21st century. The film shows these people unwrapping these artifacts, as careful as people are as they revisit the past. But what goes into the new time capsule are more esoteric than the older objects. The workers placing them in a different looking capsule, this one being smaller and looking like a cube. A slower paced film like this forces us to observe details we end up treasuring.