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.