Southlander

After a fleeting spin through the fest circuit, "Southlander" should make a smooth segue into small-screen venues. Musicvid helmer Steven Hanft's digital-video feature is a slackly paced but modestly diverting trifle, with cameos by recording artists Beck, Beth Orton and Hank Williams III to elevate the hipper-than-thou quotient.

With:
With: Rory Cochrane, Ross Harris, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Richard Edson, Gregg Henry, Ione Skye, Meghan Gallagher, Beck, Beth Orton, Hank Williams III.

After a fleeting spin through the fest circuit, and maybe a few midnight-movie bookings, “Southlander” should make a smooth segue into small-screen venues. Musicvid helmer Steven Hanft’s digital-video feature is a slackly paced but modestly diverting trifle, with cameos by recording artists Beck, Beth Orton and Hank Williams III to elevate the hipper-than-thou quotient.

Rory Cochrane is sufficiently personable as Chance, an ambitious but marginally talented L.A. keyboardist. His spirits soar when he spots a for-sale listing in a newspaper’s classified ads for a ’69 Mullowtron, a much-sought-after synthesizer. But the Mullowtron is stolen shortly after he buys it. During the course of his citywide search for the missing keyboard, Chance encounters such eccentrics as a faded funk superstar (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs of TV’s “Welcome Back, Kotter”) with a nasty temper, and a multimillionaire New Age musical genius who mistrusts modern technology (a nice turn by Gregg Henry). “Southlander” is most amusing when it’s frankly retro. A few musical interludes have the cheesy-flashy look of early ’80s musicvideos, while a climactic chase deliberately recalls ’70s copshows.

Southlander

Production: A Propaganda Films production. Produced by Laurie Melaga, Darren Lavette, Kerstin Muller. Executive producers, Trevor Macy, Rick Hess. Directed by Steven Hanft. Screenplay, Ross Harris, Hanft, Bob Stephenson.

Crew: Camera (color, digital video), Lance Acord; editors, Haines Hall, Saar Klein; sound, John Hennessey. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (Midnight Films), Austin, Texas, March 12, 2001. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Rory Cochrane, Ross Harris, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Richard Edson, Gregg Henry, Ione Skye, Meghan Gallagher, Beck, Beth Orton, Hank Williams III.

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