Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Film Geek is for film geek eyes only
Review by Sombrero Grande
Film Geek is an independent film for a very select audience that dreams of somehow reaching larger renown. The film seems to know this and act out its own ambitions and shortcomings through the story of its protagonist, bona-fide film geek Scotty Pelk. Scotty is a human encyclopedia of film history, able to spout off about his love of Jean-Luc Godard, David Cronenberg, Wong Kar Wai, or Peter Jackson at a moment’s notice. However, his interactions with anyone in the real world are awkward and Scotty finds it hard to attain everyday goals like keeping a job. Film Geek is a movie geared for film geeks to watch and enjoy, perhaps even to empathize with Scotty’s character, but anyone else is likely to have the same reaction as most of the people Scotty runs into during the film--they’ll want to get away.
In Film Geek, film references fly fast and frequently at the viewer, and if you’re not “down” with the obscure titles and filmmakers Scotty spouts about, your patience is liable to run down quickly.
Scotty Pelk is a great character for film geeks to grab onto. He’s a physical embodiment of every nerdy obsession, every memorized movie line, every watched behind-the-scenes DVD documentary that those of us who get off on good cinema know all too well. He’s alternatingly pathetic and impressive. Through Scotty, film geeks get a peek at how the rest of the world perceives those of us know that they’re not “just movies.” When he’s not diligently working at a video rental store with a fervor that seems to have long crossed over the line into obsession, Scotty’s writing essay after essay for his personal website that has yet to attain a single hit from anyone but him (gee, I wonder what that’s like). He’s a character to laugh at and, despite the fantastic job Melik Malkasian does portraying him, one of the film’s shortcomings is that it never lets him become anything else.
The film carries the look of an independent feature, particularly one that could have been filmed with a home digital camera, which this isn’t necessarily a bad thing...if only the rest of the film didn’t also feel so “home-made.” With the exception of Malkasian and John Breen, who plays Scotty’s boss, the rest of the cast acted as though they were merely friends of the director who begrudgingly agreed to play a part in his movie. Exceedingly amateurish cinematography almost completely ruins the film’s funniest gag in a music store when we aren’t immediately allowed to see Scotty’s reaction to a surprising development.
One asset to the film that independent movies usually don’t possess is that Film Geek has a really great soundtrack. I’d never heard any of the songs in the movie before, but they made a great mix; too bad there’s no soundtrack album for the film.
The strongest asset of Film Geek is its ending, which, unfortunately I can’t really talk about without spoiling it, so if you want to be surprised by the movie’s ending, you’d better skip the next paragraph entirely.
You gone? Good. At first the ending had me rolling my eyes in disbelief (and not in a good way) as suddenly every character who had snubbed poor Scotty suddenly couldn’t get enough of him when the overnight success of his website made him a local celebrity. The hokiness with which the whole scenario played out had me ready to dismiss it, until the film pulled a Usual Suspects-like twist out of its pocket as it turned out to be yet another pathetic fantasy that Scotty is seen masturbating to. At several points earlier in the movie Scotty is seen “pleasuring himself” into his bathroom sink as he fantasizes about unattainable women, so this final cinematic gesture proved to be a smart move as it managed to give the film both a happy ending and woeful, real-life, depressing ending truly befitting the story and such an independent film.
Ultimately, Film Geek is good for a chuckle from diehard movie nerds, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.