Thursday, March 7, 2013

Film Review: Alex Karpovsky's Red Flag

In an interview once - I am not sure from where or with whom - writer/director/editor/actor Alex Karpovsky said that he aspired to be in the same realm of fame as directors such as Spike Jonze and Jim Jarmusch.  According to Karpovsky, this was just the right amount of fame.  Only the cool people know who you are, and you are not bothered by the world at large.  I am sure that Karpovsky would agree with the statement that he is not quite there yet, but with the release of Red Flag, a charmingly disarming comedy in the vein of a small-time Woody Allen, he is most certainly one step closer, or at the very least, should be one step closer.  The main problem with the director's new film, is not its narrative nor Karpovsky's filming techniques, nor really any of the acting, even if it does suffer from an amateurishness on occasion (a silly criticism that is really just a minor one in the whole scheme of things), but from a lack of distribution.  

You see, for Alex Karpovsky to achieve his rather median-flying aspirations of Jarmusch-hood, people need to actually see his films, and even though Red Flag is easily the most prominent of his films so far, its quite miniscule limited release, concurrent with, as is the norm in Indie Cinema these days, a Video-on-Demand release, ends up making it an unseen quality in most of the movie-going world.  But then again, those who should see it - those who would naturally enjoy a film such as Red Flag - are seeking it out, and perhaps this is something after all.  Of course, the fact that Karpovsky is one of the co-stars of the HBO series, Girls, created by friend and fellow Mumblecorish filmmaker - and newly-minted Golden Globe winner - Lena Dunham (he can be seen in Dunham's obscure slacker-gen film, Tiny Furniture as well), surely helps out in the whole recognizable face department.  And, I don't know if it helps or not, but Red Flag is being released side-by-side with Karpovsky's other new film, Rubberneck.  This latter film, a departure for the filmmaker, is a dark thriller, that never really does what one assumes Karpovsky wants it to do, and therefore sags while Red Flag, in all its dark comedic fun, blooms.  But, exposure is exposure, eh? 

As for the film itself, the story is pretty simple.  Alex Karpovsky plays a filmmaker named Alex Karpovsky, who, after being dumped by his long-time girlfriend for an apparent lack of commitment, is traveling the arthouse cinemas and colleges of the south, promoting a film called Woodpecker, which incidentally, is a film that Karpovsky actually made back in 2008.  This simple - and one would assume, easily played by Karpovsky - scenario is given a twist as the filmmaker is joined on his journey by an old friend and a new obsessed fan, either one of which can be described as the true looney of this haphazard road trip. Taking the typical idea of indie filmmakers writing movies about there own lives and own problems, Karposvsky twists it about to blend fact with fiction almost seamlessly.   With obvious comparisons to Woody Allen (whenever a filmmaker decides to talk frankly, yet comically, about adult relationships, one must always compare said filmmaker to Woody Allen - I believe it is a film critic rule actually) Red Flag takes its time building up to the eventual, and inevitable, climactic emotional showdown, in a film that is really not all that much like the aforementioned Mr. Allen, but is quite a fun piece of indie cinema in its own right.  Perhaps Karpovsky is not quite up to that cool factor realm of Jonze and Jarmusch, but if he keeps making films like Red Flag, he should be there soon.


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