2017, NR, 75 min. Directed by Mike Ott, Nathan Silver. Starring Arthur Martinez, Lindsay Burdge, Mike Ott, Nathan Silver, Connor Long.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 24, 2017
This meta-movie about the making of movies packs on layers of meaning, but merely stacks them up in an attempt to knock them down. It’s an intriguing proposition, yet Actor Martinez is not nearly as witty and disruptive in its execution as it thinks it is.
Arthur Martinez (Martinez) is a struggling actor who, by day, works as a mobile computer repair technician. He hires two directors (Mike Ott and Nathan Silver, established arthouse filmmakers with numerous credits to their names, who here play themselves on-, and mostly off-, screen) to film the story of his life. A schlub whose life is not terribly interesting, Arthur is caught in a world between documentary and fiction as Ott and Silver record his life and then hire a “real” actress (Lindsay Burdge) to play his love interest, a step that advances the divorced man’s life into the realm of fabrication. The more the directors spruce up his life, the more confused Arthur becomes. Is he the star of his own story or a victim of directors who play with people’s emotions for their own ends? The filmmakers push Arthur and Lindsay to reveal naked truths (or in an especially uncomfortable scene, they push Lindsay toward literal nakedness). None of the “characters” come out of this looking particularly good, however none of them, to my eyes, looks as bad as they seem to think they do. The grungy camerawork observes them all in long takes interrupted by quick pans and zooms to zero in on various facial expressions and non-answers.
Everyone involved in Actor Martinez deserves kudos for the effort, but the unengaging result would be better chalked up to a failed experiment rather than shared with others in theatrical settings. The film aims to be a cautionary tale, but it doesn’t seem that the filmmakers have absorbed the lesson.