Tasty Bits

Sasha Valenti's first feature "Tasty Bits" is set in her native Russia, but recalls '70s Stateside pics for its amiably shaggy caper plot hinged on counterculture hipster types. Vid-shot effort shows real enterprise that's undercut by low-budget execution. Nonetheless, it reps a viable fringe TV pickup, and a calling card for helmer and thesps.

With:
With: Julia Muranova, Tatiana Alyokhina, Roman Erykalov, Igor Avrov, Eugene Afraimovich, Katya Nenazhenko, Anna Savenkova, Alexander Airapetov, Anatoli Chukhnov, Ludmila Trefilova, Ludmila Sokolova.

U.S.-film-schooled multihyphenate Sasha Valenti’s first feature “Tasty Bits” is set in her native Russia, but recalls ’70s Stateside pics like “Between the Lines” and “Steelyard Blues” for its amiably shaggy caper plot hinged on counterculture hipster types. Breezy vid-shot effort shows real enterprise that’s considerably undercut by low-budget execution. Nonetheless, it reps a viable fringe TV pickup, and a solid calling card for helmer and lead thesps.

Julia (Julia Muranova) is creative director and jazz DJ for a regional station about to be devoured by a bigger fish. Anticipating the axe or, worse, corporate programming interference, she schemes to con potential takeover buyers. Plan goes awry, inviting the ire of Russian mafia types. Surprise last-minute intervention from Julia’s new ex-stripper love Tanya (Tatiana Alyokhina) rescues all involved. Smart, confident, reckless heroine is the rare lipstick-lesbian construct who’s not at all a straight man’s fantasy. Subsidiary characters are also nicely drawn, while blase attitude toward heavy drinking, drugging, and miscellaneous weirdness among Russo artistic types also feels fresh. But lively pace, busy soundtrack and spry if far-fetched storyline are somewhat undone by variable sound recording and at times impenetrably underlit DV photography.

Tasty Bits

Russia

Production: A Rasfocus Studio production. Produced, directed, written by Sasha Valenti.

Crew: Camera (color, digital video), Evgeni Studenikin; editors, Valenti, Studenikin; music, Eugene Afraimovich. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, June 2, 2003. (In San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Festival.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Julia Muranova, Tatiana Alyokhina, Roman Erykalov, Igor Avrov, Eugene Afraimovich, Katya Nenazhenko, Anna Savenkova, Alexander Airapetov, Anatoli Chukhnov, Ludmila Trefilova, Ludmila Sokolova.

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