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Love and time travel elements link two new films now out on DVD

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Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza star in "Safety Not Guaranteed"
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REVIEWS: Sound of My Voice (2011) and
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

A few nights ago I was flipping channels and there,
after many years of not having seen it, was Star
Trek IV: The Voyage Home
. Yeah, the one with the whales.

But more importantly, it was a story of time travel.
And in those days (not unlike today) I was fascinated with the idea of time
travel. In fact, not long after seeing that 1986 installment of of the ongoing Star Trek series I wrote a short story
called The Equinox, which basically
ripped off the whole Star Trek IV
premise, minus the whole “save the whales” angle and the fact that I set it in
Dallas as opposed to San Francisco. The
was submitted – and rejected – by Boys Life magazine, I’m sad to

The next day, in my Netflix queue, were two films,
which I promptly watched: Sound of My
and Safety Not Guaranteed.
Until a week before I had never heard of these films. But, they were recommended
to me and upon watching them both, I am glad they were.

What ties them together? Well, there is the element
of love. Both of these independent films have love winding its way through
them. And more importantly, love that is separated by time.

Let’s go with Sound
of My Voice
first. Released nearly a year ago and now on DVD, the film, directed
by Zal Batmanglij, stars Brit Marling as a Los Angeles-area cult leader named
Maggie who has a small group of followers who spend time with the attractive,
young blonde woman in a sealed basement. It is clear that Maggie is ill, as
noted by her oxygen tank and the excessive cleaning required by each cult
member before they are in her presence.

Meanwhile, a young couple, Peter Aitken (Christopher
Denham) and Lorna Michaelson (Nicole Vicius) have been accepted into the cult.
But they have ulterior motives. Peter wants to secretly film and report on
Maggie’s cult and reveal how dangerous they are. Lorna, meanwhile, is involved
in a more disinterested way, mainly attending because Peter is hellbent on
exposing Maggie as a fraud.

The small cult soon learns from Maggie that she is a
time traveler from the year 2054 and that in her time life is much different.
There has been a civil war, strife and lean times. Food is grown at home and,
when asked to sing a song from her time by a cult member, Maggie begins to sing
the opening lyrics to the 1993 song “Dreams” by the Cranberries.

The Cranberries?!? Yes, that gets one young man
named Lam to question Maggie and how she could say a hit in 2054 was a song
that would be 60 years old by then. Maggie, flustered, says that it is a
popular song in her time but that it was sung by someone else.

Peter and Lorna are now convinced that Maggie is a
fraud – and dangerous. The danger comes from one cult member taking Lorna on a
hike to a shooting range. Clearly they are preparing for some sort of
apocalyptic future.

So, is Maggie the real deal? Is she taken her “chosen”
under her wing, to protect them from a future cataclysm? And what of the
strange little girl in Peter’s classroom. The one with the red hat that Maggie
eventually orders Peter to bring to her?

of My Voice
is a pretty powerful film with a twist and
eerie realism that you don’t entirely expect.

Skipping over to Safety
Not Guaranteed
, a film directed by Colin Trevorrow, we are immedidately
introduced to Seattle-based news magazine intern Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza), a
quirky, quiet young woman who agrees to go to a small, coastal town in
Washington state – along with an obnoxious, cocky reporter named Jeff (Jake Johnson)
and a clueless computer nerd named Arnau (Karan Soni) – to look into the man behind
a newspaper ad that claims someone needing a partner on a trip back in time – “safety
not guaranteed.”

For the next several days the trio bumbles around
the town of Ocean View, Wash. following their prey, a store stock clerk named Kenneth
(Mark Duplass) who placed the ad and lives in a ramshackle house outside town.

So, is Kenneth for real? Jeff and Arnau don’t seem
to care. Jeff, in particular, is on the trip in hopes of scoring with an old
high school flame. Arnau is just along for the ride (“diversity looks good on a
resume,” he says) and Darius is intrigued by the rumpled-but-oddly-attractive
Kenneth who has convinced her that he can travel back to 2001 and save an old
girlfriend from being killed in a bizarre accident. Meanwhile, Darius reveals
that she wants to go back in time with Kenneth so she can save her mother who
died around that same time. Will Kenneth’s time-travel plan succeed? Will Jeff
get back with his old girlfriend? Will Arnau pull himself away from his laptop
and actually kiss a girl for the first time?

I should note that unlike the serious drama of Sound of My Voice (a film that brings to
mind some of the better work of director Richard Kelly), Safety Not Guaranteed has a goofy whimsy about it that takes it in
a more comedic direction. Both films are beautifully shot and keep your
attention, but in different ways. And then there is that “love-n-time-travel”
angle that makes them virtual cinematic bookends. Very cool.

Both Sound of
My Voice
and Safety Not Guaranteed
are highly recommended by Red Dirt Report.

2013 Red Dirt Report

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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