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Overall Rating
3.66

Awesome: 3.45%
Worth A Look62.07%
Average: 31.03%
Pretty Bad: 3.45%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Film Geek
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by Todd LaPlace

"Cinephobia"
3 stars

James Westby is no Stephen Frears. I realize that sounds like a stupidly obvious comment, but it’s nearly impossible to watch the former’s “Film Geek” and not subconsciously compare it to the latter’s “High Fidelity.” Both feature a protagonist that obsessively collects knowledge about a pop culture medium (film and music, respectively), so much so that it actually hinders his ability to relate to members of the outside world, especially women. One of the more creative aspects of both films is the frequent listing of their characters top five favorites in obscure subject areas like top five favorite David Cronenberg movies or songs about suicide. The only difference is “High Fidelity” seamlessly works those little moments into the film while “Film Geek” actually stops the film to spell out the list in intertitles. While it’s interesting to see which films make Westby’s title character’s lists, its also clearly a sign of lazy filmmaking, which may explain why one director is working with John Cusack in Hollywood and the other is toiling away on his indie features in Oregon.

It’s hard not to be scared by Scotty Pelk, the title character of “Film Geek,” largely because it’s nearly impossible not to see at least a little bit of yourself in his obsessive ways. Like Scotty, I had to cringe when he eavesdrops on two teenage girls talking about their mutual love of “Patch Adams” and their disdain of “Memento,” but at the very least, I’m fairly positive I wouldn’t immediately quote Jean-Luc Godard and then throw empty film boxes at them. Well, reasonably sure anyway.

Scotty (maniacally played by Melik Malkasian) knows absolutely everything about film — he can rattle off a seemingly never ending stream of titles that include the word “Heaven” and argues about the wonders of letterboxing — and absolutely nothing about anything else. The floors of his apartment are covered in stacks of videos (although by 2005, shouldn’t he have switched to DVDs?) and books about Ingmar Bergman and Preston Sturges, and his idea of wall decorating is schedules from the local art house theater. He spends his free time updating a film Web site that’s yet to receive a hit (even though his essays are so cleverly titled like “Why Wong Kar-wai is Awesome” and “Why I Love Film”) and stalking the video store where he works. Scotty’s pretty devastated, therefore, when he’s fired from the store for essentially being a scary, obsessive freak, and it’s made worse when no other video store in town will hire him, forcing him to seek employment selling auto parts.

Shot in his native Portland, Oregon, it’s no surprise that “Film Geek” is semi-autobiographical for director and writer James Westby, although I would pity all of his family and friends if he was even half as annoying as Scotty. Except for his encyclopedia knowledge of cinema, Scotty severely lacks any type of recognizable personality, which is made worse by Malkasian’s flat, monotone delivery. Scotty’s not the type of guy you’d ever want to root for, especially since the only time he seems to spend away from movies is his frequent masturbating over the sink, either fantasizing about his busty neighbor (Michelle Garner) or his art school crush Niko (Tyler Gannon), whom he spots on the bus reading a book about the films of David Cronenberg.

Even at a scant 72 minutes, “Film Geek” tends to drag, especially when the middle portion is largely devoted to Scotty obsessively called Niko after their date, even though she’s clearly ignoring his calls. The second act, however, may be preferable to the uplifting resolution that spawns from nothing and invalidates everything that’s come before. Scotty’s quirks might start out as cute, especially when they lead to fun intertitles listing his top five Peter Jackson (although no true film geek would list all three “Lord of the Rings” as tied for the top spot) or date movies (a list that probably gets unused thanks in small part to his undeserved love of the “Rings” trilogy), but it’s a trend that quickly grows old. Should the point be for Scotty to progress past his one-dimensional love of movies? I mean, shouldn’t any good film narrative take its characters through a story arc that leaves them more evolved than when they started? I’m sure even Scotty would say that “Film Geek” is nothing more than an off-beat, mediocre independent feature, unworthy of a place in a list of Scotty’s favorite flicks.

I am a film geek. I’ll admit it. I’ve seen my fair share of films by Bergman and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and I’ve got a favorite Godard film (for the record, it’s “Masculine-Feminine”). “Film Geek” was made by guys like me for guys like me, so if I didn’t get much enjoyment out of the movie, what does that say about how good it is?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13732&reviewer=401
originally posted: 08/12/07 10:43:59
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User Comments

3/29/10 Bill Johnson I felt the film was more depressing than funny, but then I just lost my job, too. 3 stars
1/10/09 Amber Brown Could have been a family movie if it there wasn't cussing and masturbating, unnessecary. 2 stars
1/20/07 Indrid Cold Very rough around the edges, which is occasionally annoying. Good for a few laughs though. 3 stars
10/25/06 Pappy97 So is the happy ending what happened or was it fantasy? I believe it happened, but 3 stars
8/04/06 Bob Awesome! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Jan-2006 (NR)
  DVD: 22-Aug-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  James Westby

Written by
  James Westby

Cast
  Melik Malkasian
  Tyler Gannon
  Matt Morris



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