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Sleeper of the Week: ‘Buzzard’

Sleeper of the Week: 'Buzzard'

Sleeper of the Week takes a film that only
few critics have seen and shines some light on it.

Dir: Joel Potrykus
Criticwire Average: B+

Dozens of earnest dramas have looked at people looking on the fringes, but the new film “Buzzard” takes on the subject with a sharp, pitch-black sense of humor. The film stars Joshua Burge as Marty, a metalhead and slacker working at a temp agency. He’s barely scraping by with his lazy work and petty scams, but when he pulls one that’s a little too traceable, he’s force to go on the run and hide out in his friend’s (writer/director Joel Potrykus) basement.

“Buzzard” doesn’t idealize Marty: he’s a misanthrope and creep, capable of terrible things. But the film is still strangely sympathetic to his plight and his wants, which don’t amount to much more than having a place to sleep and something to eat. It gets both the humor that comes out of listlessness and unendurable boredom — Marty and his friend play a game that involves them hurling tennis balls at each others’ heads — and the desperation that comes from having nobody and nothing to turn to.

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

Kurt Brokaw, Independent Magazine

You can tell Michigan-based writer/director Joel Potrykus was a former film critic by the way he describes his first feature: “If you dig on junk food, heavy metal and angry young men, then come party with Buzzard. It’s an art film disguised as a violent, slacker black comedy nightmare. Anti-mumblecore. It’s like Albert Camus meets Freddy Krueger.” That’s as vivid and accurate as anything you’ll read here. Read more.

Dustin Chang, TwitchFilm

Raw and ugly, yet mesmerizing, “Buzzard” is a one of a kind film that you can’t shake off easily. As the country’s economical climate recycles the past, “Buzzard” shares the dispirited spirit of the slackers of the Generation X of the 90s. Read more.

Serena Donadoni, Metro Times

Burge and Potrykus are the De Niro and Scorsese of stunted adolescence, collaborators who explore the petulance and violence of stymied young men. Read more.

Gabe Toro, The Playlist

It’s hard to look away from the face of Joshua Burge: his bug eyes recall Peter Lorre in their constant vigilant paranoia. But his angular femininity that comes from his soft mouth and sleek cheekbones suggest an approachability that contrasts with the sharpness of his more intimidating features. He would have played villains and scoundrels in the silent era, ones that had a vulnerable secret. Joel Potrykus’ “Buzzard” reveals that not much has changed since then. Read more.

More thoughts from the web:

Dan Schindel, Movie Mezzanine

It would almost be a horror movie or a grim social realist drama if it weren’t for the consistent strain of sharp humor running throughout. The movie doesn’t excuse Marty the way so many comedies do their own leads, but nor does it condemn him. Rather, it draws painful recognition from his situation, and wrings it both for laughs and cringes. Read more.

Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

Viewers may find Marty morally vacant or outright sociopathic, but he’s also just a kid trying to get by without any money…Potrykus never gets didactic about the class commentary in “Buzzard,” because Marty’s funny/pathetic scams and simmering psychosis draw the attention away from it. But nothing that happens in the film would be necessary if Marty had two dimes to rub together, and didn’t have to gamble his life away on two-figure second-party checks. Read more.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club

Shot in itchy long takes at some of the ugliest locations America has to offer, “Buzzard” is outwardly confrontational; it follows its aloof antihero from one awkward situation to another, slowly inching from cringe comedy into psychological rot, and even introducing an element of queasy body horror in the form of a festering cut on Marty’s hand. And yet it’s also sympathetic and sincere—a movie that genuinely feels like it’s trying to wrestle with what it means to feel like a nobody living nowhere special, and to want to be a monster, running through the night, claws out. Read more.

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