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Writer/Director Destin Daniel Cretton won the Jury Prize at the 2009
Sundance Film Festival for his short film Short Term 12. This year he's
back with an incredibly moving debut feature entitled I AM NOT A
HIPSTER. This film is a quasi-musical with an existential core. Brook
is a young singer/songwriter who has become a local legend in the San
Diego indie scene after releasing his debut album. The problem is he
wants nothing to do with it, becoming a well renowned artist was never
part of his plan. For him music is essentially a means of therapy.
Music is the channel though which Brook coups with the crisis he faces
in his life, namely the death of his mother. He maintains himself
isolated from most of his peers through his aggressive and egotistic
attitude which pretty much guarantees to destroy his own career. Even
his best friend Clark will end a phone call with a hilarious "I love
you!" but Brook does not reciprocate.
Hope arrives in the form of Brooke's three sisters. Their joyful and exuberant spirits are the remedy to his bitterness and apathy. Cretton does an excellent job at allowing for these characters to interact with effortless fluidity. It is through the interactions with his sisters that the audience can peel back on the layers of Brooke's grief. The death of his mother and his sort of newly found fame leads Brook to question the very meaning of life and art. He spends his time looking at "Youtube" videos of the Tsunami in Japan, which lead him to tears. When one of his sisters asks what's the matter he sobs and says: "I just realized how f*** lonely I am". Brooke slowly begins to discover that the very thing he has isolated himself from is the very thing he needs; community. And it is through music that he begins to find redemption.
The film does an excellent job a peering into the soul of an artist and his work. We see Brooke laying down some tracks on his computer one by one. First we'll see some sleigh bells, then some drum toms, then an acoustic guitar riff, then some "Whooaaa". Without the context of the complete song these recordings make no sense. We have no idea what the author, Brook, is up to. But, when the audience finally listens to the finished song we can enjoy it. The completed piece is even greater than the sum of its parts. And so this is what I AM A NOT HIPSTER is about. Sometimes we go through life and experience things that don't make sense, no rhyme, no reason. We trust that eventually all the song parts; our friends, our family, our mistakes, our fame, and our art will come together and the song we'll here in the end will blow our minds.