The following are capsule reviews of movies showing at this year’s festival:
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS (unrated) * *
Film editing has often been called “the invisible art,” a reference to the anonymous nature of the craft and an acknowledgment of the often thankless task that these industry veterans perform when they’re paring down hours of footage into a marketable piece of entertainment. The observant but flavorless indie drama Supporting Characters shines a spotlight on these unsung heroes of the cutting room floor, but director Daniel Schechter takes so many detours into their personal lives that he obscures any insights he might have had on their unglamorous line of work.
Nick (Alex Karpovsky) and Darryl (co-screenwriter Tarik Lowe), a New York City-based post-production team, have been brought in to fix a banal rom-com suffering from low test screening scores. Schechter peppers the scenes depicting the interracial duo’s complementary work ethic with engaging conversations between the two men that occasionally add up to a reasonably engrossing portrait of life as an extended editing gig. Instead of focusing on Nick and Darryl’s day-to day occupational challenges, however, Supporting Characters concerns itself way too much with their romantic entanglements. Nick, for instance, is engaged to needy, career-minded Amy (Sophia Takal), but he allows his wandering eye to fixate on Jamie (Arielle Kebbel), the lead actress of the film he’s trying to salvage. The stale storyline is even more tiresome than it sounds.
These skilled hired guns are fond of comparing what they do for a living with cancer surgery. “We get in there and cut out the malignant cells,” Darryl boasts at one point. Schechter could have started with excising these two zeroes from his movie and giving us people worth rooting for instead. Coming across like David Schwimmer’s uncharismatic long-lost cousin, Karpovsky looks disengaged even when his character is supposed to be in the middle of a heated argument with his fiancée. The most distressing part of Schechter’s halfhearted trifle is not that Nick and Darryl turn out to be self-absorbed jerks, but that their sense of entitlement is so dull.
Cast: Alex Karpovsky, Tarik Lowe, Arielle Kebbel. Director: Daniel Schechter. Screenwriters: Lowe and Schechter. Running time: 87 minutes. Vulgar language, nudity, some sexual references, adult themes. Plays at 8 p.m. Oct. 22 at Muvico Pompano 18, 8 p.m. Oct. 23 at Cinema Paradiso, and 7:45 p.m. Oct. 28 at Sunrise Civic Center Theater as part of FLIFF.
STUCK (unrated) * 1/2
The traffic forecast for this morning-after romantic comedy is bumper-to-bumper clichés with a heavy probability of lousy one-liner gridlock. The bulk of writer-director Stuart Acher’s grating, aggressively stylish feature debut, this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival Centerpiece selection, takes place inside a silver-and-black Honda Element that’s trapped with a few hundred other vehicles on the L.A. Expressway. Because there’s nothing like enduring a never-ending traffic jam to force you to become acquainted with that one-night stand you’d rather forget.
Unfolding with non-linear restlessness, Stuck pieces together how Holly (Madeline Zima) and Guy (Joel David Moore) met at a bar, went back to his trendy apartment and indulged in decadent binge drinking and spectacularly awful sex, all of which Acher captures in excruciating shakycam detail. The filmmaker, who never lets you forget this is his calling card film, throws in every technical trick in the book, but once his two snippy lovebirds hit the road so that Holly can get back to her car, you realize he’s overcompensating for an utter lack of substance. Instead of illustrating how an attractive career girl like Holly would go for a bourgeois dweeb like Guy, Stuck’s fractured narrative generates migraines. Zima and Moore attempt to ground Acher’s overcaffeinated romp in something resembling reality, but they’re only convincing when their characters can’t stand each other — their mutual contempt is contagious.