Woodpecker

Alex Karpovsky

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during the 2012 LAFF, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. There are few things that navel-gazing filmmakers like gazing at more than, well, their own navels, which is why independent cinema is flooded with vaguely veiled stories that are obviously about their makers and little else. In Red Flag, writer/director/producer/star Alex Karpovsky embraces this mini-genre (to the point that his character is named “Alex Karpovsky” and he’s on the road showing his film Woodpecker, a film Karpovsky actually made and a trip he really did take) to characteristically witty and dry effect. But it’s Karpovsky’s willingness to make his own character not look like a sensitive genius (or “a charismatic mega-fauna” as a deranged fan calls him or even “an adroit filmmaker” as he eventually tries to tout himself as) that frees the film from ego and opens it up to actual humor and significant proficiency. For the sake of clarity, this review will refer to the character of “Alex Karpovksy” as “Alex” and Alex Karpovksy the filmmaker as “Karpovsky,” because this could get a bit confusing (fortunately for Karpovsky, his final film is not).

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