“Film Geek” is a Rorschach test for movie buffs. Scotty Pelk’s (Melik Malkasian) life makes up a series of inkblots. So let’s begin.
At his job at Video Connections, Scotty tries to devote a section of the store to ‘Scotty’s Favorites’, but Mr. Johnson (John Breen) tells him to remove all of it, choose two movies and put them on the Employee Picks shelf, “like everyone else.” A close look with the pause button reveals some of his picks to be “Raising Arizona”, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”, “O Brother Where Art Thou?” “Solaris” (2002), “Punch-Drunk Love” “2001: A Space Odyssey”, and “Rushmore.”
Good man. He likes the Coen brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Wes Anderson. I love “2001: A Space Odyssey” too, but when was the last time he watched “Dr. Strangelove”?
A woman walks into the store and tells him that she can’t think of a movie title, but knows that “Heaven” is part of the title and he starts rattling off titles faster than I can even think about movies when I get up in the morning. She slows him down at one point and says that it was one of the ones he mentioned first. Days of Heaven.
Later, he tries to turn two teenaged girls on to Godard, and is politely called a “fucking loser.” He also weirds out an older man by questioning him as to why he didn’t pick up the widescreen copies of “Alien 3” and “Starship Troopers.”
Scotty obviously loves movies, which is the best way anyone can live their life, and he even has his own website, scottysfilmpage.com, which nobody visits. However, he hasn’t grasped yet that when it comes to being a movie buff, you have to make yourself happy first. What do you like to watch? What do you want to see over the weekend? He wants other people to watch the movies that he likes, but he’s not the best person to introduce Godard and Ingmar Bergman to any of these customers. He’s definitely off-putting with how fast he speaks and how badly he wants people to see these movies. He’s socially inept and doesn’t have the patience for those who are slow to know what he knows.
In his apartment, he has stacks of videotapes, as well as biographies on Woody Allen, Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman, John Huston, Preston Sturges, and Bergman.
“Film Geek” will shock other movie buffs by recognizing on-screen who they are. Scotty unlocks the door to his apartment, walks in, and I couldn’t believe it. What he has in that apartment, I have in my room. More DVDs than tapes laying about (any blank videotapes I have are on a separate metal stands), though more books than Scotty has. No film schedules hanging up for any local art house theaters, but I know the feeling. In fact, I’m only envious of Scotty in that where he lives, he doesn’t have to trek to L.A. like I would just to catch a screening of something different than whatever’s playing at Edwards Valencia 12.
Scotty masturbates, of course, mostly to his blonde bikinied neighbor, thinking about her upper and lower parts, and later to Niko (Tyler Gannon), whom he chases after, when he notices her on the bus, reading a book on David Cronenberg. Niko is weary of Scotty’s personality, even telling him at one point that his intense interest in film is unhealthy.
I think it’s the same for any male movie buff and yes, guilty! But not as much as Scotty goes for it. Isn’t there any film from the 1930s he hasn’t seen yet or some obscure film he hasn’t tracked down? I know he isn’t representative of all movie buffs, but geez!
At first, Niko seems like the type of girl who would be perfect for a movie buff. She specializes in artistic photography, but is still interested in movies, enough to actually point out while passing a marquee that “That Obscure Object of Desire” is playing. Thousands of points off, though, for her claiming that Scotty’s obsession is unhealthy. It’s only unhealthy if we haven’t watched at least three movies during the week.
Scotty isn’t very deep in his opinions about movies, and during the film, occasional lists appear of his favorite Peter Jackson films, or Cronenberg, or date movies. There’s little substance to his speedy talks about his favorite movies.
Where the hell is “Meet the Feebles” in his Peter Jackson list?! “Forgotten Silver”, “Heavenly Creatures” and “Dead Alive” I can accept, though a three-way tie for first place with all three “Lord of the Rings” movies is questionable according to whichever movie buff is thinking about it at the time. But where are the sick-minded puppets?!
Scotty isn’t my kind of movie buff, though he may strike a chord with others because for some, lists are enough and are good for automatic debates. Writer/director James Westby, who clearly understands what it’s all about in being obsessed with movies, is terrific for having brought our kind out more into the open, long after Stephen Kijak and Angela Christlieb did their part with “Cinemania.” We may not be as vocal as Scotty, but we still prowl video stores and spend hours on Netflix, thinking about what to see next, watching what we’ve been thinking about and watching even what we don’t think about. At a little over an hour and 10 minutes, it’s hard to watch Scotty without wanting to ask him to slow down, to not be so grating, and Westby seems to sense those feelings when Scotty has to get another job after he’s fired from the video store for annoying the customers and causing some of the other employees to threaten the boss with resignation. At least he’s quiet when he’s searching for an auto part he knows nothing about.
And I can’t be entirely dismissive of Scotty, especially when Westby uses him in a genuinely funny scene at a music store that bows to Charlie Chaplin like an apprentice would bow to a master and then proceed to honor the master. For movie buffs, it’s an exercise of recognizing certain parts of our own personalities as well as film references and homages used. For others, you may or may not know someone like this. And even if you don’t, you might learn something about why passion for the movies runs so deep. Just know that not all film geeks are like this.