I’ve recently caught up with a lot of movies I didn’t get to see at the cinema last year, thanks to a number of free evenings and combo coupons from Redbox. I always used to think that when people said movies were made for the ‘18-39 demographic’, that was a simplification, but … no, once I fell off the end of that particular range, I discovered that I’ve become a grumpy old gifford who moans about how loud the music is, how everyone’s mumbling so you can’t hear what they’re saying, the action sequences are all so fast you can’t even tell what’s going on and Batman had fewer plotholes back in my day. Movies are not made for my kind.
I really enjoyed a couple of things I saw, though. The one I enjoyed most was The Sound of My Voice, a low budget film co-written and starring Brit Marling. Her latest, The East, is getting so much buzz that I feel almost like I’m jumping on a Marling bandwagon, rather than pointing out a hot new act. Marling is rather beautiful …
… and this, of course, translates in Hollywood to being offered a string of ‘sexy blonde victim #3’ roles. But Marling is also smart, and so she began making movies more to her taste. Her taste runs to high concept science fiction stories which act as a showcase for her acting range and screen presence. These movies are very low budget, but have strong casts, scripts and directors able to pull everything together.
A couple of years ago, Another Earth saw Marling play a promising young astronomy student who causes a fatal car accident the night that a duplicate Earth suddenly appears where the Moon used to be. It’s a great meditation on what might have been, on the role of accident in our lives, and how selfish the quest for redemption – a key narrative strain of most modern fiction, of course – can be.
The Sound of My Voice is a movie where to spell out the premise is a spoiler. It really is the sort of story you want to come to completely fresh, to let it wash over you and draw you into its circle. Which, of course, makes it very difficult to promote or talk about. The official site includes the first twelve minutes of the movie.
I really, really hope Marling works out a way to make the transition to creating the sort of movies she makes now, but for wider audiences, rather than following the dark path of providing well compensated maternity cover for Olivia Wilde in Tron III: Tron Harder or Mo’ Cowboys, Mo’ Aliens. She’s probably not the sort of person Disney wants anywhere near Episode VII-IX, but I think she’s exactly the sort of film-maker George Lucas (peace be upon him) was when he made THX1138 and American Graffitti, and when he started out making his weird, grimy documentary-style mid-budget homage to Flash Gordon. Some studio, soon, is going to give Brit Marling a seven figure sum to make a movie, and she’s going to return that investment a hundredfold and redefine science fiction cinema. Trust me, I’ve seen the future.