I Am Not A Hipster

I have been dressed for this occasion for two days straight: ironic muted flannel, jeans skinnier than Nicole Richie, blister-inducing Chuck Taylor kicks, a trapper hat straight out of Northern Michigan, and of course, imitation Ray Bans. But don’t worry, unlike like most people afraid to be stamped a “hipster,” they have lenses to accommodate my 20-80 excuse for vision.

Kicking off the first night of the VFF, I Am Not a Hipster is one part Control (a grainy, bleak take on a Joy Division biopic), two parts High Fidelity (where admittedly-archaic cassette culture takes a backseat to grade-A drama), dotted off with a dollop of self-referential sarcasm. If anyone truly believes this film lives under its title, they’d obviously be overlooking the obvious nods to the much-parodied subculture: Pabst Blue Ribbon, cheap cigarettes, and a penchant for obscure indie-rock serves as the spectacle’s driving force.

Set against a soundtrack predominantly crooned by acoustic slow jam upstarts Canines, IANAH depicts San Diego’s “starving artist” indie scene, with forlorn folk-rocker Brook Hyde (Dominic Bogart) serving as the movement’s poster child. Coping with the death of his mother, his life is plagued by loneliness and isolation, and despite his art being praised as revolutionary, he deems his efforts empty and passionless. Among his ragtag clan of artistic cohorts is the iPhone touting, bike-racing modernist Clarke (played in a truly non-mainstream fashion by Alvaro Orlando), the laughably-realistic Spaceface, a blatant farce of computer-driven dance music (Adam Shapiro) and Hyde’s three supportive, sympathetic sisters (Tammy Minoff, Lauren Coleman, Kandis Erickson).

Music films tend to reach the common conclusion that the tunes transform tragedy into togetherness, but IANAH sidesteps the trite conclusion for something more encompassing and deep.
Chalk one up for these hipsters. They didn’t escape their label. -James Cassar. 4/5 stars.

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