Loser has real appeal in darkly comic ‘Buzzard’ 

click to enlarge Joshua Burge plays the weird yet sympathetic protagonist of “Buzzard.” - COURTESY OSCILLOSCOPE LABORATORIES
  • COURTESY OSCILLOSCOPE LABORATORIES
  • Joshua Burge plays the weird yet sympathetic protagonist of “Buzzard.”
Indie filmmaker Joel Potrykus delivers a portrait of a have-not who is at once despicable, funny, sad and inimitable in “Buzzard,” a dark, deadpan comedy.

Bringing “Napoleon Dynamite” and Todd Solondz’s tales of dysfunction to mind but operating on its own planet, the story follows Marty (Joshua Burge), a heavy-metal-loving petty scam artist as he slacks off in a low-rung temp job at a Michigan bank and executes stupidly conceived schemes to screw the system.

When one such swindle – signing customer-designated checks over to himself and depositing them in his bank account – appears likely to get him nailed, Marty hides out at the home of his coworker and only friend, Derek (Potrykus). Partners in arrested development, the two play Nintendo games, engage in silly antics with a box of Bugles, and mock-fight each other with a light saber and, in Marty’s case, a scary glove inspired by Freddy Krueger.

Worried about the cops, Marty heads for Detroit, where he rents a motel room and, in a scene Potrykus presents in real time, consumes room-service spaghetti with sloppy glee. Paranoid, he behaves increasingly recklessly.

Potrykus sometimes misses the mark – Derek’s don’t-touch-me homophobia seems outdated – but the film is an original, satiric and entertaining look at economic and social loserhood overall.

Potrykus and Burge (“Buzzard” completes their “Animal Trilogy” collaboration) achieve a difficult balance that enables viewers to see Marty as both a complete louse and an almost sympathetic creature shaped by a nasty blend of personal nature and sorry circumstance.

When Marty, who looks as well as behaves a little like a buzzard, talks to his mother on the phone and lies to her about how he’s faring, he’s affectingly sad.

REVIEW

Buzzard

three stars

Starring Joshua Burge, Joel Potrykus, Teri Ann Nelson, Joe Anderson

Written and directed by Joel Potrykus

Not rated

Running time 1 hour, 37 minutes

About The Author

Anita Katz

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