Rad Indie Alert: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’

Posted in Movies on January 17th, 2013 by Nick

safety-not-guaranteed-pic31“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

Newspaper classifieds say the darndest things!

In last year’s Indie-Comedy darling Safety Not Guaranteed, a team of writers goes undercover to investigate the author of the mystifying classified above, with hopes of publishing a story for their Seattle-based magazine. Among them is Darius, a sullen, disillusioned college grad (played by Aubrey Plaza) who ends up forming a connection with the time travelling man, Kenneth (Mark Duplass), while trying to protect her cover. As the two grow closer, the team attempts to decipher whether Kenneth is madly insane or just a lonely soul.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Safety Not Guaranteed is a modest film that by end, is actually rather heartwarming. It never tries too hard, and this simplicity is exactly what gives it its unique charm. The performances follow suit. Though Darius isn’t a stretch from any of Plaza’s other roles, she shows more vulnerability here than at her day job as April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation. Despite any similarities between the two roles, Plaza carries the film nicely and steps it up in all the right moments.

Duplass deserves credit as well, portraying Kenneth as zany, kind, but most importantly, insanely human (no pun intended). He strikes a perfect balance, making Kenneth entirely root-worthy, even if the character’s sanity level isn’t clear until the film’s final frames. Combined, Duplass and Plaza have a great on-screen chemistry, complementing the movie’s quirky, semi-serious tone and subject matter. Darius and Kenneth each have their own reason to go back in time and these reasons make up the meat of the story and provide a lot of context and depth to these otherwise oddball characters.

Bonus: It’s always great to see Mary Lynn Rajskub and Kristen Bell in action too. Rajskub plays haughty magazine editor Bridget, while Bell takes on a small supporting role that is sort of spoilery if I divulge.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a movie about regret, guilt and the what-ifs that often plague us throughout our lives. It may even provoke some thought or introspection out of some. It’s endearingly entertaining and slightly silly, yet still packs in plenty of real emotion and good intentions.

Grade: A-

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TLW’s October MUST List

Posted in Check It Out! on October 20th, 2009 by Nick

Wanna know the best way to hide the fact that you’re not blogging as much as you should be? Have a MUST LIST that encompasses everything you would’ve blogged about over the course of the past few weeks!

The following books, TV shows, movies, and other bits of obscurity should most definitely be checked out by YOU. With no further adieu, I dig the following:

1. Paranormal Activity

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The ‘Little Indie Movie That Could’ is continuing to turn heads and scare audiences silly. With a continued nationwide rollout, the film has steadily grossed almost $20 million and currently has an 86% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Not bad for a film that cost only $11,000!)

The movie is original, well-written, and brilliantly acted thanks to newcomers Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston. The kicker? It’s actually fucking scary! This is not one to miss out on in the theaters! Check local listings for showtimes as it’ll continue its reach in the upcoming weeks.

2. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

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Brown has his fair share of haters, but “The Lost Symbol” is everything you’d want and expect from a Robert Langdon novel, minus Tom Hank’s really bad mullet-thing. In “Symbol,” Langdon is called to Washington D.C. by a friend, only to realize that his friend has been captured by a mad man seeking the portal to The Ancient Mysteries – a hidden vault of wisdom held secret by the Freemasons of America. Langdon must stay ahead of the psycho and uncover the clues in order to save his friend and protect Washington’s many secrets.

Langdon is mainstream fodder by now, but damn is this a page-turner! And it’s cool for the story to finally head to America for a change.

3. “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” DVD

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This is the story of two childhood friends and metal heads who have been rockin’ together for 30 years. They’ve inspired bands such as Metallica and Anthrax, and musicians such as Slash and Lemmy, but they never broke or hit the mainstream.  “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” follows the two throughout their everyday lives and tries to examine how a progressive thrash metal band with so much promise never took off.  We see Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner work their boring day jobs while never letting go of their dream. We see remarks from their family, Lars Ulrich, Slash, and fellow co-workers. We see them tour Europe and play to 15 people at a time. In the early 80′s, they once toured with the greats, only to get left behind in the dust waiting for their day to come. But it never did.

The heart and sincerity of this film was quite inspirational. Lips and Reiner’s friendship and the trust they put in each other was touching. Their inability to quit and support from their loved ones truly shined through, creating a very realistic, yet heartbreaking portrayal of one band trying to make it in the harsh, harsh biz that is the music industry. A+ filmmaking. A+ documentary.

4. Survivor: Samoa

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Season 19 of CBS’s “Survivor” proves to be a hit after the boring dud that was Tocantins. It’s all about the characters! We’ve got Shambo – the mullet-sporting former Marine Sargeant outcast. We had Ben – an ignorant bar manager from California who told a fellow castaway to go eat “ketchup sandwiches.” And then there’s Evil Russell – a oil company owner who doesn’t really care about the money or who he steamrolls over in order to progress his game (Kudos on finding the Hidden Immunity Idol without any clues! Damn, man!)

Gabon was good, not great. Tocantins was a big letdown. That said, Samoa is proving that there’s still some life to this oldie-but-goodie and that CBS should re-up Jeff Probst’s contract (which expires after Season 20′s All Stars 2!)

According to Samoa, the tribe hasn’t quite spoken just yet.

5. The Noisette’s “Wild Young Hearts”

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Friends and fellow readers are probably sick of me talking about this one so I’ll make it snappy. The Noisette’s follow up to “What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?” proves that the sophomore slump is a thing of the past. “Wild Young Hearts” is eclectic,  groovy, and light-hearted. Shingai Shoniwa’s voice is at its best, while the rhythms and retro-melodies are fresh and invigorating. Download “Wild Young Hearts,” “Never Forget You,” and “Saturday Night” to see for yourselves.

Now if only the band will leave Europe behind and come play stateside..

6. Halloween!

halloween

Best. Holiday. Ever.

Candy, pumpkin carving, heart attack pumpkin seeds, costumes, scares, ghosts and ghouls and the like – Halloween just kicks ass. ‘Tis the one month I actually enjoy living in New England. I’ve got a huge ass pumpkin waiting to be carved, I’ve got Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin Ales on the menu, and a plethora of horror flicks to digest.

October is badass.

7.  Zombieland

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It’s bloody, it’s fun, and the opening credits play “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” And it has ZOMBIES! Need I say more?

Woody Harrelson was a badass southerner, Jesse Eisenberg played a coy college kid way better than Cera ever could, and Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone played a sneaky pair of sisters who conned their way to survival. The movie was funny, extremely entertaining, and had a mysteriously amazing cameo that I will not spoil! Everything in this movie fucking worked.

Vampires are out; Zombies are in.

8. Facebook

facebook-logo

Screw October, Facebook is in it for the long haul. And I must admit: I am Facebook’s bitch.

The countless hours I spend a week snooping around and being generally nosey could probably be better spent, but damn is it addicting. I’ve got all my friends and contacts in one nice, simple, easy-to-read mini-feed that tells me all I need to know to keep up with your life – and sometimes, too much even!

Basically – if I’m not friends with you on Facebook, I question our chances at friendship as the year changes to 2010. To those without Facebook: It was a nice little run we had and I wish you a lifetime of happiness.

9. Parks and Recreation

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When “Parks and Recreation” debuted, it seemed highly doubtful that the show would ever blossom into something of merit. The quirkiness wasn’t quite there, and we weren’t in tune with the characters enough to laugh at their small mannerisms. Upon watching the second season premiere, it was blatantly apparent that this show was going to fight to survive. And if you gave up on it last season, it’s beckoning for you to give it a second chance.

What “Parks” is now accomplishing is truly something to applaud. Utilizing its ensemble cast to the fullest, Amy Poehler and Co. aren’t simply emulating Office-like standards anymore – they’re surpassing them. From Nick Offerman’s deadpan superior Ron Swanson, to intern April Ludgate’s monotone and apathetic  hilarity, “Parks” is truly putting its secondary characters to good use, and that’s something that “The Office” has lots sight of in its past few seasons. (They’re totally overusing Jim, Pam, Andy and Dwight….what about some Kevin and Creed love!?)

Add in the fact that Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones star in it?  I’d love to hear your reasons for not watching.

10. Foxy Shazam

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Foxy Shazam is an up-and-coming band that nicely blends shredding guitars, staccato keys, and amazing singalong choruses with the perfect hint of mild insanity.  Singer Eric Sean Nally dominates the stage and doesn’t give a fuck if you haven’t heard a single song – he grabs ahold of ya and never lets go.

And yeah…he’s mildly insane.

These guys are on the road with The Sounds and literally destroyed their opening spot in New York City. Their first album, “The Flamingo Trigger,” provides you with a hardcore and thrashy, while at times, abstract feel. Their second LP, my favorite – “Introducing Foxy Shazam” is a bit more structured. From avant-garde, to pop rock, to hardcore…I imagine the experimental rock of Foxy Shazam will continue well into their third record, 2010′s “Au Contraire”.

Download: “Dangerous Man”, “Introducing Foxy Shazam,” and “Wanna-be Angel”. Catch ‘em on the road with The Sounds through November 7th.

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