Based in part on a worryingly low IMDb rating, I went into "Free Samples" with some hesitance, but to my surprise it ended up as the highlight of the Palo Alto International Film Festival for me in terms of sheer entertainment value. It reminded me a great deal of a Sundance favorite from a few years back, "Smiley Face" with Anna Faris, due both to its snarky but ultimately sweet sense of humor and the wonderfully expressive and funny things that lead actress Jess Weixler is able to so with her face and her delivery. It's the kind of quirky -- I think one may in fact be required by law to use that word when reviewing films like this -- comedy about not all that much that understandably will rub some viewers the wrong way, but it's executed with so much giddy confidence (especially for a first feature) that it had me from the first minute and held onto me for all of the rest. Director Jay Gammill mentioned at the Q&A that he's currently working on a second feature with the same screenwriter. I'm looking forward to it.
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A Stanford law-school dropout named Jillian escapes to the anonymity of Los Angeles to figure out what she wants to do with her life, and on the day of her college boyfriend's birthday, she...
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April 1, 2019