|Joel Potrykus in BUZZARD|
Courtesy of Oscilloscope
2015, 97 minutes
Review by Joshua Handler
Buzzard tells the story of Marty, slacker extraordinaire - a man who works harder at cheating the system than working hard to make an host living. He's one of the most unlikable, unsympathetic, and morally reprehensible characters to grace movie screens in ages, and this is precisely what makes him such a fascinating creation. Joshua Burge brings an odd kind of low-key charisma to Marty that makes him insanely watchable. His commitment to take everything to the limit (the centerpiece spaghetti scene epitomizes this) is one of the film's greatest strengths, and his chemistry with his co-star/director, Joel Potrykus, makes their disturbingly amusing scenes instant classics (the Bugle-eating scene is one of the funniest and most memorable sequences in recent cinema history).
Watching Buzzard is like taking a plunge into another world, and by immersing us in Marty's utterly unpleasant life and world, Potrykus does whatever he can to alienate his audience to see where their breaking point is. Marty's life amounts to nothing. It's a depressing cesspool of apathy and disdain, which makes spending time with it very challenging. Yet, the originality of the character and of Potrykus' complete commitment to his vision make this film completely worth sticking with to the horrific end.
Unlike most films that revel in making their audiences uncomfortable, there's more than just shock value to Buzzard. Buzzard is a slam of the time-wasting, inefficient bureaucracy that Potrykus sees surrounding us, and through the character of Marty, Potrykus takes spectacularly intelligent and nasty jabs at it. Possibly the scariest aspect of Buzzard, though, is that Marty, while seemingly a caricature at first, is an oddly relatable human character. He is so subtly well-drawn and Burge's performance is so unpredictable and layered that he escapes being a caricature. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all know people like him.
Overall, Buzzard is a feat of filmmaking and the epitome of why a good screenplay and vision are vastly more important than having a large budget. This is daring filmmaking, and while seeing more films like Buzzard wouldn't necessarily be pleasant, it's good to have a shocker like this one every once in a while to show that there are some true radicals making great work who are still trying to shake up the norm.