I Am Not a Hipster

The Deep Blue Me


Starring: Dominic Bogart, Alvaro Orlando

Review written by Robert Patrick

The swell of artists that have emerged from the weathered, beer lacquered walls of San Diego range from the tinny hiss of Tape Deck Mountain to the ethereal, carbonated melodies of the now defunct Silverleaf. And while not a documentary on the actual burgeoning, guitar strap anchored virtuosos of the sand dusted southern California city, I Am Not a Hipster recreates the throaty hum and syrupy reverberations of barbed vocals that one would hear at local San Diego venues.

Writer and director Destin Cretton gets everything right in this palpable ode to the vanquished hearts of underground musicians. The staccato ripples of a maladroit crowd at an indie rock show, the dystopian bathrooms at venues where gummy stickers are slapped to unhinged toilet seats, and the spurious exchanges between the fanged maws of the local press and the disenchanted responses of a tired musician are all captured with a tactile realism.

Brook (Dominic Bogart) is an indie-rock artist whose music sounds like a cocktail of Wilco’s cathartic, airy strumming and The Antlers thorny gloominess. The bedraggled mop of hair, furrowed brow, and lazy drawl present a cat’s cradle of scabrous emotions. Brook has a jaded, eviscerated psyche that is only perforated by the whimsical, sunny nature of his friend Clarke (Alvaro Orlando), an artist who is about as meek as a bonsai tree. The odd couple wade through parties where Pabst Blue Ribbons the size of maglights are cracked open by guys with scruffier mandibles than NHLers in the Stanley Cup playoffs. All the while, the camera flutters and bobs like buoy in an ocean, capturing the partygoers deliberate inertia.

Our protagonist, Brook, is a 50/50 bar of venomous, dour cynicism and doe-eyed optimism. When the emotionally jagged musician’s three sisters show up, they are the antithesis of gloom, providing a hydra of opulence to Brook’s otherwise monochrome existence. They are a Greek chorus in pajama pants and Bottle Craft tees. The acerbic wit and fluttering camerawork that monograms I Am Not a Hipster is reminiscent of Mark Duplass’ deadpan, minimalist structure – and this is not a bad thing.

There are many scenes in Cretton’s opus that brand your memory because of their unbridled honesty. Bogart’s performance is rife with subtlety; there is a teeth-kneading look – particularly when his eyelids are at half mast – that says he is repressing an emotional Pompeii. I Am Not a Hipster comes out at a time where the subject matter is socially relevant, culturally significant, and immediately useful to a community that is on the precipice of a question mark, both musically and artistically. Well done.

4 out of 5

For more on the filmmakers, the distribution process, and how to help get the picture to your town, check out this link.

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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