Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic, editor of Movie City News and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Check a few signs on Twitter (@chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram (instagram.com/raypride). Twitter: @RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)
As in “Another Earth,” Brit Marling stars as a troubled space-time traveler in “Sound of My Voice.” She co-wrote both of these prescient, preternatural dramas with sci-fi elements more subtle than the usual aliens and anomalies. Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are a young couple making an undercover investigative documentary about a cult that meets in a southern California suburban basement. After showering at an intermediate location, they must don white garb, black blindfolds and plastic wrist restraints for a van ride to their late evening sessions with Maggie (Marling). She is a visitor from the future with immunity and diet issues who promises to prepare her followers to survive an upcoming civil war. Clues to her credibility include an a cappella performance of a 1993 Cranberries song purportedly repopularized in 2054, and black markings on her fingernails that match those of a little girl who obsessively builds all-black Lego towers. Director and co-writer Zal Batmanglij modulates anxiety and ambiguity for an incisive study of trust between Maggie, Peter, Lorna, a federal agent and the child who scrawls the epithet “terrorist” on a classmate’s backpack. “Zeitgeist” is not a word typically deployed by publicists, but it turns up in the press notes for “Sound of My Voice,” which is a channel for the optics and atmospherics of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Take Shelter,” “Day Night Day Night” and “Safe” (the 1995 Todd Haynes film with Julianne Moore). With Davenia McFadden, Kandice Stroh, Richard Wharton, Avery Kristen Pohl. 84m. (Bill Stamets)
“The Sound of My Voice” opens Friday at River East, Landmark Century and Century Evanston.