Posts Tagged ‘indie’

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50 Movies in 100 Days: Safety Not Guaranteed

February 18, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed

This indie comedy is an enjoyable ride through some character development and fun situations.  It isn’t what you expect when you start it out which is nice and enjoyable, unfortunately about half way through it is easy to figure out what else is going to happen in the film and it ends up being pretty predictable at the end.  It works well though and is an entertaining film that is put together with a bunch of heart.

The story revolves around a newspaper add stating that someone is looking for someone to travel back in time with them, safety isn’t guaranteed and you have to bring your open weapons.  A Seattle based magazine decides to write a story about it, mainly so the writer can try and find an old girlfriend of his who still lives in their home town.  He takes along two interns and they track down the old girlfriend and the time traveler.  Things aren’t quite as they seem, the girlfriend isn’t the same and the time traveler isn’t all that right in the head, but he really believes what he is doing.  The journalist can’t get in with the time traveler (eventually does with the old girlfriend) but Darius, the intern can.  They continue collecting on the story and Darius becomes the fellow traveler, but the story falls apart when the journalist is rejected by his old girlfriend after they sleep together and it turns out that the time traveler is going back to save someone that didn’t die, but was an old crush of his that never had the same feelings about him.  But he was rightfully paranoid throughout the whole thing as the government did suspect him as a terrorist and were trying to find him.  He turns on the time machine and we’ll leave my retelling of the story there.

The acting in the film is good.  Aubrey Plaza, Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Parks & Rec, does a very good job as Darius, it isn’t a step outside of her comfort zone, she is still quiet and awkward and sarcastic, but she does a really good job of it.  Mark Duplass is good as the crazy time traveler, from the League, he comes across as paranoid, slightly insane and damaged but not as a dangerous crazy person, but someone who is off, probably suffering from some social mental disorder, but brilliant otherwise.  Jake Johnson is solid as the reporter who is fairly all over the place, he has a high image of himself but isn’t an outright bad person.  That is one thing interesting about this film, none of the characters are outright bad people, there is no pure villain, even the government officials aren’t bad, they have reason to be worried about the time traveler after he stole from government buildings, and they aren’t jerks.  Everyone is just normal in many ways, well very abnormal people, but normal in that there aren’t clear cut good and bad, everyone has their good things about them and everyone has their bad things about them.

Direction wise, this is a well put together film.  It has polish to it and doesn’t get caught up in trying to be stylized.  It is simply shot and shown and is a great character piece because of it, the characters only develop a little throughout the film in terms of progression, but there is a deep and rich back story which sheds light onto the characters as you go along.  There isn’t anything about this film that is overdone, even the time machine was a impressive looking machine is clearly cobbled together by the time traveler and isn’t this slick device.  It is bulky and the time traveler believes it will work, but no one else is completely sure about it and is very skeptical throughout the whole film.

The more I think about it, the better I like it.  The depth and flavor of character is really well done, even the side characters have their own back story which we get to hear part of.  It is predictable in the end, but that doesn’t detract a ton from the film.  Safety Not Guaranteed is a well crafted story that is very character driven in a very unique situation, and it doesn’t get bogged down in trying to be clever and people don’t act like they wouldn’t in those situations, so while the premise is very far fetched, the acting and everything seems very realistic in tone and makes for an enjoyable watch that I would highly recommend as a film that most everyone can enjoy.

 

Critical Grade: B

Entertainment Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+

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50 New Movies in 100 Days: TiMER

January 23, 2013

TiMER

This is probably my favorite film that I’ve seen in this 50 movies in 100 Days.  It is quirky good dark indie comedy.  It is set in the future when a new invention matches people tot he one that they are meant to be.  You get a TiMER imbedded in your arm.  Overall it is really dark and works really well.

Uma is a gal who is turning 30 and whose TiMER hasn’t started yet.  They only start when the other person gets theirs as well.  So she is tracking down guys without a TiMER, dating them, then getting them to get a TiMER to see if both of theirs start and match-up.  So far she hasn’t had any luck and he is constantly obsessed with trying to find someone.  In comparison her sister Steph knows when she’ll meet her true love, and it is 40 years away, so she is enjoying life while she can.  She convinces her sister to just enjoy life a little bit and have a one night stand, she has one with a guy with a TiMER that says he’s going to meet his true love in a little more than three months.  It turns out that his TiMER is a fake and they fall for each other.  In a final act of defiance Uma and Steph decide to get their TiMER’s removed, and just when Uma’s is about to be removed it starts counting down at five hours.  She decides to keep and then the dark tragic side of comedy starts.

The acting performances are pretty good in the film.  Michelle Borth and Emma Caulfield star as Steph and Uma respectively and their performances are good.  Emma Caulfield, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, does a particularly  good job acting desperate and obsessed with the TiMER’s.  John Patrick Amedori is good in the role of a young rocker with the fake TiMER and he does a good job of holding stuff together and falling apart at the end.

Visually this is a pretty good film, it has the look of an indie film.  They keep it simple without trying to build a futuristic looking world, everything seems to be set in a time very similar to now with a few minor changes, like the TiMER, people are still acting like people do now a day.  It is a well constructed film and nicely dark.

Like I said, this is the favorite of the films that I’ve watched thus far in the 50 new movies in 100 days.  It is my type of film, the dark and quirky with a hint of tragedy towards the end.  It is well put together and has a number of good laughs in it without being a film that tries and pull out the same tired jokes.  The concept is smartly put together and the acting performances are actually quite good.

Critical Grade: B-

Entertainment Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+