I admit, I’m somewhat of a film geek. If I wasn’t you wouldn’t be reading this right now and I wouldn’t have been writing about movies for all this time. Of course, I’m not quite as socially awkward or obsessive as the main character here, but it has to say something when a few of his various film related rants (especially the whole conversation about widescreen DVD’s) hit a little closer to home than it would with the average person.
Meet Scotty (Melik Malkasian), a film addict loner who’s working at the local video store, Video Connection, and constantly annoying his co-workers and boss with his strange idiosyncrasies such as reorganizing all the shelves and spouting random trivia about movies most people don’t care about. For him it’s a perfect job and ties in with his apartment that is filled with movie posters and the fact he has a completely ignored film webpage filled with essays and reviews.
Scotty’s life is about to change, though, when his behavior goes a bit too far and ends up getting him fired from his job. Without that anchor to keep him grounded, Scotty is soon wandering the city attempting to get a job at another video store as well as pathetically lusting after his slutty neighbor who likes to sunbathe in a bikini all the time. Amongst all this he has a chance meeting with the arty Niko (Tyler Gannon) when he sees her reading a book about Stanley Kubrick on the bus.
Eventually Scotty and Niko strike up a “sort of” friendship and she helps break him out of his naivety towards the real world. This leads to the expected scenes of Scotty pursing Niko, Niko shunning him for no apparent reason, and writer/director James Westby rushing to close things out with Scotty finding fame due to his website and becoming a beloved local celebrity – which rings false at best.
Given its 71 minute running time, and the fact it was made for next to no money in Portland, Oregon; Film Geek is actually pretty watchable. As with a lot of these lo-fi indie comedies there’s quite a few shaggy moments and the script isn’t the best, but Westby has managed to pepper in enough film references to please fellow geeks like me and his tour of all the local video stores in Portland just made me sad because, I can pretty much guarantee, most of them are probably closed now due to the unfortunate digital boom.
In the lead, Malkasian is almost too pathetic but because he’s made the character generally good natured and more clueless than anything, you do end up liking him. I’m not saying he’s the kind of guy you’d want to hang out with, but you do want him to have things go right for him. Gannon does the Goth-y type girl thing as Niko and though I wanted to like the character more, the fact is she does become a total jerk towards Scotty in the second half of the movie. Otherwise, the only recognizable face is John Breen as Scotty’s former Video Connection boss.
Your enjoyment of Film Geek hinges on many things. If you’re above watching shoestring budgeted efforts then you probably will get nothing out of this but if, like me, you appreciate quirky indie comedy and feel like you could walk into a room of regular people and blow them away with your knowledge of movies while not feeling ashamed of that fact, then you should get some enjoyment out of this. I’m certainly curious to see some of Westby’s follow up films (Rid of Me especially) just to see if he can tighten up his scriptwriting and deliver on the promise this shows. (Chris Hartley, 1/25/13)
Directed By: James Westby.
Written By: James Westby.
Starring: Melik Malkasian, Tyler Gannon, Michelle Garner, John Breen.