One thing I always look for when viewing an indie movie is originality. The worst offense an indie filmmaker can commit is attempting to showcase a mainstream Hollywood sensibility through a low budget indie. When I see that I want to rip the reels from the projector, toss them into traffic and run over them with my car and then urinate upon the celluloid. I see this kind of indie a lot. Luckily, I’ve learned to control myself and have avoided jail time. But very rarely, I see an indie that makes me sit up and want to scream to everyone in the theater – this filmmaker has balls, call everyone you know right now!
I first saw “The Last Big Thing” at the Athens Film Festival in 1998. I was on the jury at the fest and had just sat through the kind of crap that makes me want to, well, you know, and then “Big Thing” unspooled. There was no argument. It was the fastest jury decision ever. The six of us looked at each other and unanimously awarded “The Last Big Thing” best feature. This movie shocked all of us with its originality, boldness and humor. I expected this film to take the indie world by storm, to take its deserved place alongside other important independent films like “Slacker,” “Clerks” and “Reservoir Dogs.” But the entertainment world is a cruel bitch and for some reason this film never really took off.
“The Last Big Thing” is the story of Simon Geist who is played by writer/director Dan Zukovic. Geist is a frustrated intellectual who works at a video store. In his spare time he is the mastermind behind a magazine called “The Next Big Thing.” He interviews self-important actors, loathsome up-and-coming hair farmers (rock stars) and pretentious comedians. The truth is that there is no magazine – that’s just an excuse to get close to these “celebrities” so that he can insult them. Geist rips into each of these self-important idiots and explains what complete morons they are right to their face. I love this guy! Geist’s live-in girlfriend, the neurotic yet strangely attractive Darla (played by Susan Heimbeinder), begins to document his rants in her own fanzine.
Now, personally, I could relate to Geist’s frustrations. Having done magazine work for a number of years and having to sit and listen to artist’s describe their meaningless work is incredibly mind-numbing. Geist is my hero. Rather than applaud or boo a comic’s performance at a local club, he chants “Caw! Caw! Caw!” It’s a hilarious scene as no one, including the comic, knows how to react to such a strange public display. Soon others want to mirror his oddball behavior and copy his views but Geist won’t have it. He wants to start an underground movement so underground, that he is its only follower. It’s brilliantly funny in a way never before captured in any indie. The messages in this film are more relevant now as our pop culture-obsessed society is in even more desperate need to become media-literate. See this movie, reject the mainstream and start your own underground movement.
[ SEE THE MOST OVERLOOKED INDIE MOVIE NOW! ] A special limited run of THE LAST BIG THING is playing in Los Angeles at the Læmmle’s Sunset 5 on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 AM! Don’t miss one of the most important indie film of the 90s. Call 323-848-3500 or get the details from The Læmmle Theaters Official Site.