on May 25, 2007 by Kim Williamson
Take an assortment of Silverlake residents, add in some dashes of L.A. lunacy, stir in a couple thematic touches from the fated likes of "The White Hotel" and "The Bridge Over San Luis Rey," add in some more dashes of L.A. lunacy, and you have the concoction known as "Bug," which world-premiered at the Santa Barbara fest and also took home its coveted Audience Choice Award for best feature film.

The plot follows a melange of characters through their individual and intertwining lives, through love, deception, anger and joy, as they move about an especially unattractively captured set of Angeleno landscapes (directors Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay and cinematographer Scott Kevan perhaps having to deal with one bane of the indie life--not being able to afford the best film stock). Given the range of characters, the accidental quality of some of their crossing paths lends a sort of artifice to the enterprise, and the sheer number of players makes keeping everyone properly identified a challenge to the audience.

"Bug" has a level of quirky likeability, but Manfredi--who scripted "Crazy/Beautiful" and also scripts here--sometimes seems to expect that quirkiness to be more likeable than it is, as if quirk and humor were two self-same parts of some cinematic reflexive property. He never decides to dig in, instead coasting along by playing short scenes with two characters for a minute, and then it's on to the next duo before much of anything has been accomplished. Still, it's unlikely that audiences would want to squash "Bug," as it provides a genial experience for a night when all that's desired is an easy entertainment. Starring Brian Cox, Michael Hitchcock, John Carroll Lynch, Jamie Kennedy, Alex Cruz and Sarah Paulson. Directed by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay. Written by Matt Manfredi. Produced by Lysa Hayland, Kate Margolis and Brian Gerber. A Bug production; no distributor set. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 85 min.

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