Amber Benson is best known as the -second-hottest lesbian witch on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She continues acting, but what she really wants to do is direct. For her first effort, she wrote, starred and got behind the camera for the 75-minute 2002 digital film Chance. She came back with an ensemble cast, a longer running time and a switch to 35-millimeter format for 2006s Liars, Lovers and Lunatics, a suburban dark comedy. When a normal-by--Hollywood-standards American family (and by that, we mean a materially superficial and emotionally dysfunctional brawl-waiting-to-happen family) is held hostage by two inept burglars (Benson and Veronica Marss Michael Muhney), the thieves find themselves sucked into a family drama thats perhaps more startling than -gunfire.
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As screenwriter/director/reviewer David Greenberg noted on indietalk.com, the plot sounds awfully similar to that of the Denis Leary comedy The Ref, but Greenberg also called it genuinely fun to watch and not without some surprisingly poignant moments. You can ask Benson about her inspiration and ambitions at the Q&A after todays screening (maybe someone can talk her into dishing juicy details about kissing and fondling the auburn-haired, blossom-cheeked, milky-skinned Alyson Hannigan back in her Buffy days). 3 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-4853 or visit www.ricecinema.rice.edu. $10.
Sat., May 3, 3 p.m., 2008