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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Buzzworthy Moviefilm: Indie Drama ‘Your Sister’s Sister’

Posted in Movies on December 18th, 2012 by Nick

your-sister-s-sister01One wouldn’t think that an Indie Drama with only three primary characters ensconced in a small getaway home would elicit such dynamic performances from its cast, but Your Sister’s Sister delivers this and more.

After the untimely death of his brother, Jack (Mark Duplass) has an emotionally challenging year, and takes up his friend Iris’s offer (who is also his dead brother’s ex-girlfriend, played by Emily Blunt) to spend some time at her father’s island-isolated cabin. Unbeknownst to both of them, Isis’s sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is also seeking refuge there after ending a seven-year-old relationship with her girlfriend. Things get hairy after a night of drunken shenanigans between Jack and Hannah, followed by Iris’s arrival the next morning, who comes carrying a secret of her own.

Writer-director Lynn Shelton has constructed a sweet, yet sometimes heartbreaking story of three friends, sisters and lovers, and masterfully massages the dynamics of each two-some, accordingly. Duplass juggles the contradiction of mournful flippancy with ease, while never sacrificing character. DeWitt, a pro at handling hyper-dysfunction (United States of Tara, Rachel Getting Married) is at her best here, while not to discredit Blunt, who definitely holds her own in great company. The three combined have an on-screen chemistry that carries the film beautifully, which perhaps, might not had been as effective in the hands of other actors.

Your Sister’s Sister is a simple story, yet it’s packed with realistic situations and tangible, relatable emotions. How these characters move forward and adapt to their unraveling surroundings and relationships is inherently what life is all about.

Grade: B+

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