Tag Archives: Mark Duplass

Safety Not Guaranteed

24 Aug

Safety not Guaranteed

 

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Writer: Derek Connolly

Stars: Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni

Motion picture rating: R

Runtime: 86 minutes

 

 

Mumblecore actor Mark Duplass is back with another smart little indie film backed by some of the makers of Little Miss Sunshine. Duplass comes from Your Sister’s Sister whilst the Sunshine folks arrive via Ruby Sparks. These films are primarily character studies that deal with dysfunctional families and that portray the vagaries of millennial love. They can be heavy on the quirkiness, and Ruby Sparks is definitely in that camp, but mostly they are warm, fun, literate and entertaining.

Duplass here plays lone amateur engineer and sci-fi nerd Kenneth. He lives a few hours from Seattle and is completing the finishing touches to his time travel machine. He needs a partner and searches via a small newspaper ad; “…bring your own weapons…safety not guaranteed…I have only done this once before.” The ad catches the eye of Jeff (Jake Johnson), a journalist with a Seattle-based magazine. He drives out to find and interview the clearly demented time traveller and takes with him two interns (Aubrey Plaza as Darius and Karan Soni as Arnau).

Jeff fails to ingratiate himself with Kenneth, but that’s OK because Jeff has an extra agenda in connecting with ex-High School sweetheart   Liz. Whilst he is off trying to relive his glory days it is Darius that engages loner Kenneth and she becomes his partner for the great journey ahead. Young Arnau watches with amusement, but he only took the internship to bolster his CV so he’s non-committal about the magazine and the story. The three magazine staffers make a fun miss-matched team just as Darius and Kenneth make an odd, but compelling couple.

This is an unapologetically sweet and sincere film about people wishing they could travel back to relive better times. Most of the characters have reasons to be intrigued by the concept of time travel. That they are in their late ‘20’s or early ‘30’s did not put me off the film, but might be hard for some viewers to swallow. Kenneth, Darius and Jeff are disenfranchised and drifting, but they don’t wallow in that. They are snarky, but not self-absorbed. And the dialogue is very funny at times.

The stand-out performance comes from Aubrey Plaza as Darius. She should become very hot property after this, but we shall see. Seemingly doing very little, she steals the film and is a magnetic screen presence. Johnson and Duplass are good and no doubt they had fun on set as the whole cast really commits to what is a rom-com and sci-fi hybrid. As such it is hard to pigeon hole, but it is all the better for it. I thoroughly enjoyed this and recommend it highly.

Your Sister’s Sister

16 Nov

Director: Lynn Shelton

Writer: Lynn Shelton

Stars: Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 90 minutes

 

 

Iris has a half-sister Hannah that she loves and a best friend Jack that she adores. In fact her feelings for Jack run deeper, but it’s a complicated relationship as Iris used to date Jack’s departed brother (the death of whom Jack is still coming to terms with one year on). Inadvertently, Iris puts troubled Jack and newly single Hannah together in the family cottage out on a Seattle island. They are both there to get some quiet alone time, but that plan, as well as their respective celibacy, goes out the window after a serious tequila session.

This film was shot in less than 2 weeks and highly improvised. As a piece for just 3 actors, and with a single primary location, Lynn (“Humpday”) Shelton intentionally wrote and directed it in that theatrical way. The feeling of improvisation comes across nicely and whilst the direction is subtle the performances are strikingly good. It is an excellent ensemble piece and very astute in its observations on familial and sexual bonds. Iris, pitching up at the cottage the day after the tequila incident, has her feelings and composure sorely tested by her sister, her best friend and more so by their strange chemistry.

Mark Duplass is very good as the slightly dishevelled and mumbling Jack and Emily Blunt is as reliable as ever as Iris. It is, however, Rosemarie DeWitt as Hannah who really shines in this. There is something a little Diane Keaton about her unconventional beauty and ease in front of camera, but boy she can really act. Hers is the meatier role, but she attacks it with pure honesty and pushes the other 2 actors on to greater heights. Together they do tug at the heartstrings. For a film that starts a little self-indulgently it finishes up as a warm, smart and very enjoyable ride.

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