Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Welcome Back To The Park: The First Trailer For 'Jurassic World' Is Here Welcome Back To The Park: The First Trailer For 'Jurassic World' Is Here New Character And Plot Details Emerge For 'True Detective' Season 2 As More Cast Members Confirmed New Character And Plot Details Emerge For 'True Detective' Season 2 As More Cast Members Confirmed James Gunn Says Shared Universe Model Is "Flawed," Plus Listen To "Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero" For 'Guardians' James Gunn Says Shared Universe Model Is "Flawed," Plus Listen To "Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero" For 'Guardians' 'Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens' Trailer Hits Theaters This Friday 'Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens' Trailer Hits Theaters This Friday Christian Bale Admits He Was Initially "Jealous" When Ben Affleck Was Cast As Batman Christian Bale Admits He Was Initially "Jealous" When Ben Affleck Was Cast As Batman Watch: First Trailer For Thomas Vinterberg's 'Far From The Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Watch: First Trailer For Thomas Vinterberg's 'Far From The Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... SXSW Review: Spierig Brothers 'Predestination'  Starring Ethan Hawke SXSW Review: Spierig Brothers 'Predestination' Starring Ethan Hawke From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Girls' Star Alex Karpovsky's 'Red Flag' Is A Hilarious Meta Dark Comedy That Showcases Some Promising Talent

Photo of Katie Walsh By Katie Walsh | The Playlist June 20, 2012 at 2:57PM

Watching “Red Flag” at a film festival is a delightfully meta affair. In fact, the whole film is delightfully meta, a darkly funny autobiographical road movie from "Girls" and "Tiny Furniture" star Alex Karpovsky. Yes, he's not just one of Dunham's boys on the hit HBO show, he's also a promising filmmaker in his own right, and he plants his 'Flag' definitively.
0
Red Flag

Watching “Red Flag” at a film festival is a delightfully meta affair. In fact, the whole film is delightfully meta, a darkly funny autobiographical road movie from "Girls" and "Tiny Furniture" star Alex Karpovsky. Yes, he's not just one of Dunham's boys on the hit HBO show, he's also a promising filmmaker in his own right, and he plants his 'Flag' definitively.

Karpovsky turned lemons into lemonade after a recent breakup. He was scheduled to take his film "Woodpecker" on a tour of the South, and brought along some friends and a one-man crew (talented DP Adam Ginsberg -- keep a look out for him) to make a film about his situation. In the movie "Red Flag," Karpovsky plays a filmmaker named Alex Karpovsky who's taking his film "Woodpecker" on tour after his girlfriend Rachel kicks him out of their house. He begs some friends to join, but it turns out Alex hasn't been the best friend and ends up rolling solo through the South. It's one dilapidated motel after the other, one arthouse theater and typical post film Q&A after the other. He finds some rebound solace and connection with a fan, River (Jennifer Prediger), who hits on him during the Q&A (every filmmaker's dream?), but he can't stop thinking about Rachel. Eventually, his buddy Henry (Onur Tukel) hops on board the road trip, just around the time River stalks him at his next stop. Suddenly, three’s a crowd. Henry and River quickly and inexplicably fall in love, while Alex is growing increasingly desperate and unraveled in his situation. 

Karpovsky is a lovable curmudgeon, kind of like Woody Allen, only taller and more serious, less frazzled in his demeanor. In the way Allen communicates something about his character through his near frantic neurotic babbling, Karpovsky achieves the same effect with an opposite approach: his deadpan reaction shots are the source of much of the film’s humor and speak volumes about his character him without saying anything at all. Like Allen, it’s hard to distinguish between the onscreen and the off, since they both essentially play versions of themselves. His character is a bit of a jerk, but you sympathize with him. All of his struggles feel very real and very relatable, whether he’s thrown his back out trying to move all of his books out of his girlfriend’s house at once, sipping a beer alone at a bar in a strange city, or cooking up a scheme to win his longtime love back. He messes up a lot of things, but you don’t stop rooting for him to get it right, even though it's absolutely hysterical when he gets it so, so wrong. 

For a micro-budget indie shot on the road, the film looks way better than one might expect, eschewing the documentary realist aesthetic found in most indie road films for a sharp, stylish look that relies heavily on editing to move the story along and create humor. Split screen montages are an ingenious device to keep the road trip moving while still communicating story, and there are many humorous moments where the punchline is a smash cut to something unexpected. Alex’s line “I’m not really a--” smashes into the blare of a nighttime Baton Rouge parade, and that cut efficiently communicates what doesn’t necessarily need to be shown, while also creating the distinct humor of this piece, constructed around Alex’s dark and deadpan view of the world. Even in its darkest moments, the film remains laugh out loud funny, while still maintaining a balance of reality, absurdism and the blackest of black humor. 

Karpovsky carries the film well with some huge assists by his co-stars, particularly in Tukel, who plays the cuddly and hilarious Henry. His warm, optimistic presence is a much-needed foil to Karpovsky and the two are a great duo. Prediger is spot on as the slightly unhinged grad student River, and Caroline White as Rachel is a grounding force of reality and morality. Of course, not enough can be said about Ginsberg’s camera work and editing, which imbues the film with an energy and liveliness that keeps it from being dragged down by the material. It’s a fun, laugh-out-loud dark comedy, and proves Alex Karpovsky and crew have made their mark. [B+]

This article is related to: Los Angeles Film Festival, Review, Alex Karpovsky, Red Flag


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates