W-D: Troy Miller; with Jules Loth, Bryan Kent, Todd Tatom, Brian Hecker, Lauren Zinn, Troy MillerThink of Severance as Play It Again, Sam for the Austin tech-bust era. Miller was laid off by Human Code in 2001 and used his severance check to make a movie in Austin about a guy who gets laid off from a high tech company and uses his severance check to ... become a film-noirish private detective à la Humphrey Bogart. Oh, and Miller made himself the star and shot the whole thing in cool black-and-white Super-16 film. The result is a confident, pretty, and goofy film that, despite a slightly flabby script, proves to be a charmer. Give much credit to the Austin improv comedy troupe Heroes of Comedy (the folks behind Star Trekkin'), who make up much of the cast, and a cool big-band soundtrack composed by Pat Murray. Severance and Miller epitomize the spirit of independent Austin filmmaking, and the comedy's world premiere deserves a standing-room-only audience. Joe O'Connell
Severance screens as part of the Austin Showcase on Thursday, Oct. 20, 7pm, and Sunday, Oct. 23, 4:30pm at the Arbor.