Buzzard, from writer-director Joel Potrykus, tells the story of Marty, a bored, dim-witted temp at a mortgage office. Marty is a small-time scam artist always on the make. One day he takes a batch of undeliverable checks from work and attempts to parlay them into some easy money. Things don’t work out as he plans. Did I mention Marty is also turning his Nintendo Power Glove into a Freddy Krueger glove and is obsessed with the horror genre, death metal music and Hot Pockets?
Backdraft podcast, I was lamenting the fact that independent filmmakers are becoming too reliant on their heroes (e.g. John Carpenter) and are not contributing original voices of their own, either in story or style; perhaps both. As if the movie gods heard me, they allowed me to stumble onto Buzzard this weekend (on VOD) and I’m so glad that happened. It’s an original and bizarre character study with something on its mind. The movie works as a dark comedy (paranoia and violence are often bubbling at the surface), but also as a character study about an unlikeable slacker with whom you can empathize. There are a couple of scenes where Marty calls his mother and his shame and embarrassment about himself are palpable and heartbreaking. If you’re the type of viewer that can appreciate a movie with a largely despicable lead, this is for you. If that is a barrier you can’t get past, skip Buzzard. Also, maybe grow up.
Speaking of kitchens, I’d be remiss not mentioning how interestingly food plays into this movie as an emotional cue. There’s a scene where Marty checks into a posh hotel and orders $20 spaghetti for room service and the movie holds on Marty eating his dinner for four minutes straight, smiling and enjoying himself for once. It’s a scene that I found personally affecting. Have you ever had that feeling where a good meal or a nice hotel room can represent an escape for just one night? As counterpoint to that, he later eats Spaghetti-O’s in a much dingier hotel room and his facial expressions speak volumes. There’s also a Bugles eating sequence that is crazy. I have no idea how they shot that. I’m sure what they did was simple but it blew me away. Just saying.
Buzzard is a real find. It’s a little uneven (the first act is strong, the second is weak and the third is pretty great and suspenseful) but I was surprisingly moved by it. It feels sort of fun while you’re watching it until it doesn’t, and you realize afterwards the movie’s depth. It stays with you. I think Buzzard will improve with familiarity and is a movie I can’t stand the thought of never seeing again. It’s original and striking but I fear is in danger of being overlooked.
Buzzard is currently available on most VOD platforms and well worth seeking out. Below you can find the trailer.