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 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.
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 that Alex Karpovsky and crew have made their mark. [B+]
This is a print of our review from the L.A. Film Festival.