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Is Alex Karpovsky the New Woody Allen?

February 19, 2013

I’ve previously raved about Girls costar Alex Karpovsky’s twisted road picture Red Flag and the bromantic comedy Supporting Characters. Now, after watching Rubberneck—a psychological thriller that he directed, cowrote, co-edited and costars in—I’m more convinced than ever that this guy is a major talent. If you don’t believe me, check out the films, which are all currently available on VOD. Or maybe you’ll believe The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which will run a double-feature of Red Flag and Rubberneck starting Friday, with Karpovsky appearing after some of the shows.

Karpovsky has also come into his own on Girls this season, particularly in last Sunday’s episode, which put the spotlight on his character, Ray, as well as the equally socially challenged Adam (Adam Driver, who’ll also appear with Karpovsky in the new Coen Bros. film, Inside Llewyn Davis, which was just acquired by CBS Films) as they ventured into the wilds of Staten Island to return a dog. But it’s Rubberneck that really shows the diversity of Karpovsky’s talent.

As an actor, he doesn’t have a lot of range, playing variations of the same schnook. But he finds subtle shades of difference in his characters, turning the laughably self-involved, awkward filmmaker of Red Flag (not coincidentally named Alex Karpovsky) into the dangerously deranged yet still somehow sympathetic stalker Paul Miller of Rubberneck. A scientist at a Boston research facility, Paul engages in a post-Xmas party fling with a new coworker (Jaime Ray Newman) who’s waaay out of his league, then can’t let go when she spurns him for a married colleague. Yes, it’s a gender-reversed Fatal Attraction (with lab guinea pigs in place of boiled bunnies), but Karpovsky doesn’t turn his character into a monster. He concocts a quietly eerie masterpiece.

With his portably nebbishy persona and ability to toggle between comedy and drama, Karpovsky is quickly amassing an oeuvre reminiscent of Woody Allen’s body of work—the early, funny stuff as well as darker pieces like Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point. Rubberneck shows hints of Hitchcock as well, especially in a haunting aerial shot of Karpovsky running through an empty field that recalls Cary Grant’s crop-duster chase in North by Northwest.

Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock—these aren’t names I throw around lightly. Alex Karpovsky may not live up to their legacies, but one thing’s for sure: He’s much more than just a male Lena Dunham.

Have you caught any of Alex Karpovsky’s movies? Post a comment!

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