‘Red Flag,’ ‘Rubberneck,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


It’s rare that a filmmaker has more than one film out in a single year, unless they’re either making both features and documentaries – or they’re Steven Soderbergh.

But Alex Karpovsky actually has two films out the same day: “Red Flag” and “Rubberneck.” They’re being released as a double-feature tomorrow (2/19/13) on Tribeca’s VOD outlet, as well as in a New York theater on Friday (2/22/13), which is a fine way to see them because they are so categorically different.

They also happen to be surprising and compelling, in very separate ways. “Rubberneck” is a quietly tense thriller about romantic obsession gone wrong. “Red Flag,” on the other hand, is a loosey-goosey romantic comedy, an improvised road movie that finds unexpected laughs in the ramblings of its shambling, self-involved hero.

Beside writing and directing both films, Karpovsky stars in both as well. In “Red Flag,” in fact, he plays a filmmaker named Alex Karpovsky, who breaks up with his girlfriend and moves his things to his brother’s house – just a couple days before he leaves on a tour showing a film of his at venues across the South.

The tour itself is pretty lo-fi, with Karpovsky selling DVDs at a card table after the screenings. He’s driving himself from town to town and staying in cheap motels – where they routinely deny his request for a slightly later check-out time. Ah, the glamour of show business.

At one of the early stops, he connects with a woman in the audience, who asks a question during the post-screening Q&A, then all but flings herself at him afterward. Her name is River (Jennifer Prediger) and Karpovsky immediately spots her as trouble – though not until after he’s had sex with her in a public park alongside a river. He goes so far as to drop her in front of her house, politely declining her invitation to come in and speeding away before she’s even up the front steps.

He gets a call from a pal from back home, taking him up on Karpovsky’s offer to join him on tour, as company. They wind up in Memphis – only to discover that River has followed them to Memphis as well. Then his pal Henry (Onur Tukel) hooks up with River and invites her along for the rest of the tour.

This review continues on my website.

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