Originally released in 1996, I’m Not Fascinating is the sort of cult film you’d expect from one of the founders of irreverent-to-the-max Detroit music zine Motorbooty. Director and cowriter Danny Plotnick parlays his caustic sense of humor and appetite for absurdity into a crude satire of the music industry starring hapless power(less) trio Icky Boyfriends, whose drummer Tony B. (aka Anthony Bedard) cowrote the screenplay. This band could be perceived as the male Shaggs; their janky grunt rock and cranky vocals makes Half Japanese sound like Yes. Yet through the songs’ murkiness, you can discern the poignancy of the chronic loser.
Despite their obvious lack of commercial appeal and suffering regular peltings at their live shows, Icky Boyfriends land a deal with Past It Records. You may be shocked to learn that the company’s boss projects major-label sliminess and cluelessness. Of course, he promises big things, but [SPOILER ALERT] ain’t shit gonna happen for Icky Boyfriends. Evil machinations and gross nepotism ensue. Terminal obscurity beckons.
This farcical film abounds with cringe-inducing situations (two of Icky Boyfriends’ members teach a comedy class in which they instruct students how to pratfall; the guys use Pepsi as their main cooking ingredient, etc.), failing relationships, amateurish acting, and inconsistent lighting. (The movie was shot on Super 8 for $1,000.)
Nevertheless, Plotnick and Bedard engineer plenty of rueful chuckles and ludicrous plot twists, and at the film’s core there wriggles a miserable kernel of truth. Speak to any current working musician at any level of the industry’s hierarchy and you’ll likely find that the same sort of mendacity and incompetence portrayed in I’m Not Fascinating still holds.
I’m Not Fascinating screens Friday, June 23, at 8 pm at Northwest Film Forum. Anthony Bedard—who now serves as talent buyer for the San Francisco venues Hemlock Tavern, Slim’s, and Great American Music Hall—will be in attendance. In addition to I’m Not Fascinating, NWFF will be screening nine shorts, including Plotnick’s Skate Witches, Jennifer and Amber Cluck’s Pigskin Orgasm, and Graeme Whiffler’s video for Ralph Records geniuses Renaldo & the Loaf’s “Songs for Swinging Larvae.”