Buzzard (Joel Potrykus, 2014)

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Marty Jackitansky works as a temp at a mortgage company. He takes three-hour breaks, reads comic books at his desk, and orders office supplies so he can flip them for a cash refund. His life is an endless parade of desperate scams that net him $20 here, $30 there, the effort of which is clearly not worth the payoff. But Marty keeps doing it anyway because he believes he’s sticking it to the Man. And because he’s a total moron. Marty is like an adult Butt-head who grew up without a Beavis by his side. He listens to metal, eats terrible microwaveable food, and makes stupid decision after stupid decision.

Marty also happens to be the subject of writer-director Joel Potrykus’s new film, Buzzard. The film begins with a lingering shot of star Joshua Burge’s face. Rarely does the camera leave it for the next ninety minutes. Burge’s excessive features give Marty an alien look, well-suited for his character’s isolation. His bulging eyeballs are frequently deployed to convey Marty’s relentless desperation.

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Once the ramifications of stealing checks intended for his company’s clients dawns on him, Marty’s wasted world is upended. Certain that he will be caught, fired, and most likely arrested, Marty flees with only a backpack and his pet project: a Nintendo Power Glove modified with metallic claws. The Power Glove is the one glimpse of passion we see from the otherwise apathetic Marty. He doodles designs for it on envelopes, spends his evenings sharpening its blades. The thought of it sustains him more than the steady diet of snack chips.

At one point on his journey, Marty finds a surrogate Beavis of his own in fellow co-worker, Derek (perfectly portrayed by the director Potrykus). Derek lives with his dad, cultivates a pathetic goatee, and can’t stop talking about how he turned his basement into a party zone. The Party Zone is a pit stop on Marty’s odyssey and provides the funniest moments in the film. Despite the condescension and disdain emanating from Marty, his interactions with Derek are perversely endearing. The two work out on the same treadmill, have a Bugle-eating contest, and act out a battle between Marty’s beloved Freddy Krueger and Derek’s hybrid Jedi-Neo. All the while, Marty thinks he is Derek’s superior, mostly because he listens to better music and hates their shared job. But the two are twins of a type: aimless, uneducated, emotionally stunted 21st century American males. One wears a Red Bull Motocross shirt, the other a Melvins tee, but underneath they’re both idiots.

(Buzzard plays at the Grand Illusion Cinema 3/6 – 3/12)

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