Playing with food, references and life
The court jester of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Joel Potrykus, and the winner of Best Director in Concorso Cineasti del presente in 2012 for Ape, returns to Locarno with his merry band of Sob Noisse collaborators with perhaps the most acclaimed American independent film of the year. Joshua Burge – an acting machine of overconfident, semi-psychotic intensity who should be co-starring as a master villain in Hollywood blockbusters – here plays one Marty Jackitansky, a petty scam artist temporarily employed at a bank, supremely dedicated to one thing in life: doing as little actual work as possible to get by, as work seems beneath him. When he enacts a moronic plan to embezzle from his employer–loosely recalling Richard Pryor’s salami slicing from Superman III (film references abound in Buzzard, foremost the taloned Freddy Krueger glove that acts as Buzzard’s main symbol) – Marty finally finds himself a bit over his head. Potrykus himself co-stars as Derek, Marty’s foil, a slightly more diligent, but just as pathetic, bank employee who has turned his father’s basement into a “party zone,” where Marty relocates once he’s “on the run.” Together the two reach new lows of pathetic modern slackerdom. (Boys will be boys.)
In creating a realistic American horror story, with an atmosphere of bubbling threat that is always on the verge of exploding, Potrykus has upped his game on all levels in Buzzard. The political commentary seen earlier in Ape exists here as both as text and metaphor, seen most clearly through the repeated scenes of (food) consumption: not only does Potrykus give us the most revolting occurrence of eating pasta ever recorded, but also Buzzard does for the underrated snack food Bugles what The Third Man did for cuckoo clocks. This is truly a filmmaker of the present.
Buzzard exists to break genre, give a middle finger to romance, spit on sentimentality, and laugh at the status quo. It’s time to bring punk back to film.