Stars in Shorts

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Say what you will about this collection of less-than-feature-length films: There’s truth in its advertising. The sketchlike movies here are indeed shorts, and stars do lend their presence, from Kenneth Branagh metaphorically twirling his mustache in the sci-fi–inflected “Prodigal” to Julia Stiles ranting directly to the camera in Neil LaBute’s “Sexting.” Two entries, both involving awkward encounters, stand out: “Steve” focuses a pitiless eye on Colin Firth’s downstairs neighbor, who begins aggressively stalking an inexplicably Scottish-accented Keira Knightley. “After School Special” watches single parents Sarah Paulson and Wes Bentley chatting at an indoor playground; also written by LaBute, it boasts the playwright’s darkest punch line to date, which is saying something. Everything else here feels, ironically, interminable.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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