Saturday, April 13, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed

The newspaper ad could read: "Man with prosthetic ear seeks alternative girlfriend to hold hands with during botched burglaries and time travel to the past. Must be proficient in firearms, and able to empathize with a tormented soul. Preferably, you still live at home with your parents and have no messy social loose ends to tie up. Oh, and I drive a beat-up 1980's era Datsun 280z by the way."

"Safety Not Guaranteed" is how I've come to think of SIFF's programming choices for films that are set in Seattle. At the 2010 festival, I sat through a movie called The Penitent Man. Some of the film's footage was shot in my neighborhood (Capitol Hill). The story involved time travel, and it was one of the worst productions I've ever witnessed.

Fast forward to last year's debut of director Colin Trevorrow's new film starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass. Yes, it was partially set in Seattle, and it did involve time travel, but the acting talent made this movie very enjoyable. Though I felt that the script was fun and engaging, the excellent performances are what really made the characters interesting and worth caring about.

The idea for the screenplay was inspired by an actual ad placed on page 92 of the Sept/Oct 1997 issue of survivalist magazine 'Backwoods Home'. The ad was written by John Silveira, who often supplied fillers when the classified ad pages of the magazine came up short. It was, of course, a joke. The film's writer, Derek Connolly, then created the part of Darius specifically for Aubrey Plaza after stumbling upon a re-posting of Silveira's original ad on the Internet in 2007. It's interesting how plots evolve.

Safety Not Guaranteed was shot in 32 locations over 24 days in Seattle and surrounding areas. Most films and television shows that are set in Seattle are filmed in Vancouver B.C. or some other location. I don't often see film crews closing off our city streets, but there is the occasional exception.

- Ron Shaker

Venue: Seattle International Film Festival, 2012
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Sci-fi, romantic, action thriller
Rating: 4/5

Official Site
IMDB

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