One need not be all that familiar with Sebastien Gutierrez' 'Women in Trouble' or 'Elektra Luxx' to get the vibe pouring out of the latest collaboration between the filmmaker and his lovely muse, Carla Gugino, but it will certainly help your viewing experience if you enjoy clever dialogue, amusing twists, and strong women. Half an anthology piece, of sorts, and half an "all in one night" neo-noir dark comedy, 'Girl Walks Into a Bar' is about as "experimental" a flick you'll find outside the festival circuit -- it actually debuted on YouTube following its SXSW world premiere -- but it's also unexpectedly breezy, quick-witted, and rather fun.

Ms. Gugino plays a tough-talking former detective who saunters her way through a colorfully weird collection of taverns, all of which house a troublemaker or two: Zachary Quinto as a dentist who wants his wife dead; Emmannuele Chriqui as a stripper with the mind of a literary genius; Rosario Dawson as a coat-check girl employed by a very bizarre establishment; Danny Devito as a cleverly nefarious crime boss; Gill Bellows and Xander Berkeley as a sleazy pair of cops, and on and on. (The cast offers a few surprises I won't mention.)

Although most of the stops are mere transitions or exposition volleys, there's something impressively "quick" about 'Girl Walks Into a Bar.' The film is awash in legitimately cool ideas about empowered women, but it's Gutierrez' screenplay (and / or some rather fine improvisational work on behalf of the gigantic ensemble) that allows the tangentially-connected anecdotes to come together as a whole. At its best moments, the flick feels like a foul-mouthed (yet still insightful) Woody Allen piece, but 'Girl Walks Into a Bar' also brings welcome dashes of film noir and highly-stylized banter to the equation.

I can't speak to the appeal of watching a feature film through ten separate chapters on a YouTube screen, but as an oddball discovery on cable, 'Girl Walks Into a Bar' is a surprisingly cool flick.<



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