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Director: Mike Bayer, Stan Steen

Producers: Mike Bayer, Stan Steen

Executive Producer: Your Name Here

Videographer: Rob McGrath

Rating: ----

NO EARLY BIRDS is a documentary about the world of the die-hard "garage sailor"--the kind of person who's the reason why garage-sale ads often bear the titular phrase. Steen and Bayer introduce us to Roxanne and Dale, two Austin residents who are the embodiment of the garage sailor, though from opposite poles.

Roxanne, who owns a curio shop (called Curiosa), climbs into her SUV every weekend and goes on a quest for merchandise. Dale, a church custodian who lives a simple, though not quite Thoreau-esque, life, pedals his bike to sales all over town.

As the filmmakers ride along (and pedal along), Roxanne and Dale impart their theories on pricing and what the market will bear, why people go to sales, the importance of timing, and which church sales have the best merch ("The Episcopals—they’re the richest," says Roxanne).

So who does go to garage sales? Steen and Bayer show us the home of a genial gent who so loves garage sales that he’s turned his home into a sort of garage sale gallery—an installation consisting of the aftermath of owning stuff. As the camera wended its way down the barely navigable paths of his home, I had to acknowledge that Americans tire of things and cast them aside far too cavalierly. But I also saw a horrible warning in a salvage mindset taken to such extremes that it made me want to clear out my closets right away.

Dale, on the other hand, lives spartanly, in a barely furnished rental. He buys, especially musical instruments, but shows by his easy willingness to sell when he needs cash that he never really owns. And Roxanne is the consummate middleperson—she buys because she knows that others will.

The filmmakers leave no stone unturned, as they ask utility pole workers and a signage ordinance enforcer about the effect of garage sales on their work lives. They also take us into the delicate world of the estate sale, interviewing an estate sale agent, a bereaved son, and a neighbor who’s eyed a couple of household items for some time.

Sound dull? Sound like an unlikely topic for a film? Put aside your doubts. NO EARLY BIRDS is the genuine article. From more than two years of footage, these filmmakers have carved an at-time hilarious slice of lives that is both respectful to its colorful subjects and also a meditation on our consumer culture.

—Roxanne Bogucka, an Action Grrl!

HYBRID Ratings Guide:

- Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

- It’s worth a full-price ticket.

- It’s worth a matinee ticket.

- Wait for video rental.

- Check out the video from the library, if you must.

- While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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