On one hand, I feel like local filmmaker Mickey Reece should be run out of town. He is too talented not to be making “real” movies for a living on the coasts.

On the other hand, I’d sure hate to lose him.

His latest feature, Mickey and Me, premieres Saturday at City Arts Center. Musical guest Ivan Peña Trio and free beer from Titswiggle Brewing Co. are icing on the cake, because the film is Reece’s best yet.

He’s the metro’s version of Steven Soderbergh: He shoots fast (at a 15-films-since-2008 speed) and cheap ($500 for this one), and isn’t afraid of genre experimentation. In the past, Reece and his players have made a sports drama, a college comedy, a time-travel thriller and even a spaghetti Western; the quasi-pseudo-semi-autobiographical Mickey and Me is his take on vintage Woody Allen, with Norman subbing for New York City.

Dallos Paz plays Mickey, a
recent divorcé on the verge of 30, struggling with a novel he doesn’t
wish to embellish and women he doesn’t want to “settle” for. He seems
like an affable fellow, but can be neurotic to a self-defeating degree,
which threatens his new relationship with the lovely, with-it Sam
(Audrey Wagner).

the year in which the black-and-white film takes place, Mickey looks back
on his dating history in an attempt to see where he always goes wrong.
His well-meaning grandmother (Jean Keef) has an idea: “You’re no
Leo-nard DiCapra or Brad Pitts.”

periodically breaks the fourth wall to address the viewer, but it’s
always to service the story. In lesser hands, it could be a gimmick, but
Reece is a writer/director whose greatest weapon is near-perfect comic timing, and Paz more than ably is right in sync with him.

With one exception,
performances are aces across the board, but worthy of particular
mention for bringing the funny are Cathleen Housley as yet another
ex-GF, Mason Giles as the world’s worst stand-up comic and especially
Joey Paz as Mickey’s layabout brother who heaps ignorant praise over the
cheesy gator flick Lace Placid.

Of course, they’re given material that is genuinely humorous on the page to start with. I laughed out loud several times during Mickey and Me, with
the most emerging during a snooty party Mickey attends with his best
bud, Tony (Danny Marroquin). It’s the kind of pretentious get-together
where someone asks without irony, “Is anyone tasting an oaky bitterness
to their cab?,” making our lovelorn hero feel trapped.

Tony: “If you don’t feel comfortable here, I understand. After all, you never went to college.”

Mickey: “Neither did you!”

Tony: “That’s true. But I’ve read a lot of Chuck Palahniuk.”

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