Although it's initially jarring to see Karpovsky tackle overly serious material both behind and in front of the camera, "Rubberneck" has more in common with the growing Karpovsky oeuvre than it may appear -- and even inadvertently critiques it. Were it not for his amusing delivery, Karpovsky's obsessive onscreen personas would likely come across as maniacs not unlike Paul. The movie smartly interrogates the qualities that make any character likable. (What if the Karpovsky character who crashed at Dunham's pad in "Tiny Furniture" turned out to be a killer? In retrospect, all the signs are there.)
For those unfamiliar with Karpovsky's work, "Rubberneck" only works as a generally watchable, sometimes confounding genre exercise. Karpovsky emulates Hitchcock with a lot more restraint than Brian DePalma brought in his prime. But while the movie suffers from a dry and ponderous first hour, it quietly builds velocity for its compelling finale, including a "Psycho"-like revelation that redefines everything from before.
A different set of surprises emerge in "Supporting Characters," Daniel Schechter's very light but continually entertaining New York comedy. Karpovsky's character, Nick, toils away on his projects with no end in sight, while paying lip service to his naive fiance (Sofia Takal) and flirting with the celebrity actress associated with his latest editing gig. Nick has plenty of charm and certainly carries the movie, but his faults build to a point where he must face a comeuppance.
"Supporting Characters" struggles with the issue of whether Nick deserves to sort out his issues or simply cope with them once they blow up in his face. By the end, it's clear that he's only the smartest guy in the room because he insists on it; the illusion fades whenever someone else speaks up. That's the essence of Karpovsky's best work.
"Supporting Characters": B+
HOW WILL THEY PLAY? Both films should gain decent exposure on the festival circuit but seem unlikely to manage more than modest returns on VOD.
Watch the trailers for both films below: