Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Zero Charisma: RPG Blues
Weidermeyer knows his exotic dice—good jobs and dating, not so much. He is a “Game Master,” the organizer of an epic
fantasy role playing game. It is one of
the few sources of personal fulfillment in his life. Yet, even his gaming will turn sour in Katie
Graham & Andrew Matthews’ Zero
opens this Friday in New York.
sad sack Weidermeyer is in for a miserable time of it. Living with his
sharp-tongued grandmother, he only feels in control of his life when lording
over his ostensible friends during their weekly game night. Unfortunately, when
one player drops out to get his act together, Weidermeyer has difficulty
filling his chair. Eventually, Miles
steps in, but he immediately rubs Weidermeyer the wrong way.
a hardcore nerd like Weidermeyer, the newcomer is a hipster phony. His credentials as a writer for a “Geek chic”
website further fuels the Game Master’s suspicions. Success simply isn’t something he can relate
to. However, his fellow players quickly
fall under the sway of Miles’ “gee whiz” charm.
Just as Weidermeyer’s churlish behavior pushes away his friends, his
estranged mother pays a visit, destabilizing his home life, such as it is.
first film distributed by Nerdist Industries (in conjunction with Tribeca
Film), Zero is billed as an ode to
geekery. Maybe it is meant with love,
but it is hard to tell from what transpires on-screen. Frankly, to judge from Zero, you would be better off with the filmmakers’ disdain rather
than their affection. The humiliations they
rain down on their lead character-punching bag are truly cringe-worthy. Anyone
with a moderately human capacity for empathy will find it a queasy viewing experience.
Sam Eidson’s commitment is admirable. As
Weidermeyer, he reaches a level of anti-social pathos rarely seen on film. Every audience wince is a tribute to his
performance. In fact, most of the cast is convincingly geeky, with Dakin
Matthews stealing his scenes as celebrity game designer Greg Goran. Nevertheless, it is hard to figure who the
presumed target market is for this exercise in nerd emotional torture.
Despite the earnestness of its ensemble cast
(particularly Eidson), Zero feels
surprisingly mean spirited. Sure,
Oprah-esque life lessons are learned, but we are always expected to laugh at
rather than with its schlubby loser. Not
nearly as much fun as it could have been, Zero
Charisma rather disappointing overall.
It opens this Friday (10/11) in New York at the Cinema Village and next
Friday (10/18) in San Francisco at the Roxie.
Labels: Geeks on film