Collecting Rooftops (1999) (RePost from the old Ryan’s Reviews site)

Description (from

Collecting Rooftops, shot on location in Albuquerque’s now defunct historic Lobo Theater, is a comedy about three college roommates living in the University of New Mexico’s infamous Student Ghetto. More than that, it’s about their tribulations in dealing with squalid living conditions, crummy student jobs, and horrifying emotionally scarring relationships with members of the fairer sex. It also serves as a sort of epitaph for the quickly dying single screen movie house. All this, fifty demolished computer monitors, a swash buckling laser sword fight, a special appearance by Godzilla & the art of Zen Projection make this the indy comedy not to miss.

Major Cast: Billy Garberina as Ringo, Mark Chavez as Max, Andrew Leith as Dave, Joy Armstrong as Leigh, Mike Hollenbeck as Mike White, John Patrick Nieto as Zen

Special Features: None

written by Billy Garberina

directed by Billy Garberina & Rob Kellar

DVD by Burning Paradise Video

Billy: this movie’s a lot better than you think it is. For everyone else: check out Collecting Rooftops.

A “slacker opus,” Collecting Rooftops is the story of three roommates living in Albuquerque. Ringo is the smooth operator ladies man, with more than a pinch of (from Kevin Smith’s Clerks) Randal’s attitude on customer service. Max is the king of the slackers, a sit at home and do nothing type of guy that can’t get away from his videogames, even if it causes him bodily harm. And then there’s Dave, the nice guy. The too-nice guy, he gets shit-on and taken advantage of because he is so nice.

I was amazed at how well made this film was. The writing was funny, and not just one-liners, or just sight gags, but a little bit of everything went into this stew. There were many a line that made me laugh out loud, and there were also scenes that were incredibly funny in a physical sense (the “Godzilla” scene is a shining example of this, as is the continuous tossing of breakable items off of the roof just to piss off the person who has to clean the alley below), while other scenes were funny in other ways. What made this movie stand out from your average low-budget comedy was that Collecting Rooftops avoided camp. The humor came from a mix of really funny, witty dialogue
and a splash of the absurd to keep you paying attention. Beyond the writing, the acting was amazing for a film of this level. All three of the roommates were very convincing in their portrayals of these characters, but especially Mark Chavez. His Max, an incredibly overgrown eight year old mind (that likes sex), is probably the highlight of the comedy in Collecting Rooftops. Don’t get me wrong: all of the major cast is funny (the minor cast & extras not so much, but with a few exceptions), but Chavez shines.

Also helping to make Collecting Rooftops stand out form the crowd is the fact that the script is very intelligent (when it’s not being sophomoric) and there is some drama thrown in. This film is not all fun, but the drama works in this film.

While watching Collecting Rooftops, my mind was constantly comparing it to the films of Kevin Smith. The writing was much in the vein of Clerks or Chasing Amy, and the characters, while not the same, felt like they could have moved to Albuquerque from Red Bank, NJ. What made Collecting Rooftops different from Smith’s films was the camera. While I love Kevin Smith, he has only recently really begun to come up with a visual style. His first few films were a lot of setting a camera on a tripod and shooting the scene. Collecting Rooftops’ cinematography, thanks to Rob Kellar, is amazing. The shots are often interesting, beautiful, and fun. I especially enjoyed watching Dave and Ringo sort M&M’s through the glass counter top.

There were only a few things that I felt detracted from this film. It seems to have been shot on a single-chip digital video camera, or possibly was not rendered by a good-quality program. The video seems very “digital,” and in times not the greatest digital (but keep in mind that this was shot in 2000, I think). The other thing that I felt detracted from Collecting Rooftops was that it felt like things were missing. There were subplots that I would like to have seen… they seemed interesting. However, I also am a fan of long films (when the film is well made and can continue to be interesting), so a version of Collecting Rooftops that was longer than the 1:47 running time would
be ok with me.

Overall I felt that this film is one of the better indy films I’ve ever seen. I have a feeling that I will see this movie many, many more times, and will probably be showing it to a lot of my friends. I would recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of Kevin Smith, or intelligent comedy in general, and doesn‘t mind the “digital“ look. Very highly recommended.

Overall 9 / 10

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