Joshua Burge in a scene from Buzzard

Joel Potrykus's latest film Buzzard begins its theatrical run at Film Society of Lincoln Center on Friday for a one-week exclusive run.  

The third and final entry in his Animal Trilogy, Joel Potrykus’s Buzzard is another tale of alienation meets sybaritism. This time, the beast is a disaffective temp named Marty who does everything he can to scam the bank he works for. After he illegally cashes undeliverable client checks, Marty (Joshua Burge) becomes paranoid and spends the rest of the film on a quest to bury himself in the unfettered narcissism of adolescence. Slant writes of Buzzard: “This is a study of a man who's hard to like, harder to dismiss, and impossible to pigeonhole.”

But Potrykus’s bird of prey doesn’t confine himself to sabotaging banks. Slant also notes Marty’s darker side in their recent review: “He mistreats people too, including his dweeby co-worker, Derek (Potrykus), who's so desperate to be Marty's friend that he'll put up with any amount of abuse.”

Independent Magazine observes a kind of sleaziness in Marty: “Potrykus is enormously shrewd in how he foreshadows this creep. One moment Marty’s on the phone with his parents, patiently and respectfully telling them how well he’s doing in his corporate job and how he cherishes his independent lifestyle. The next moment he’s badgering a co-worker into letting him crash in his cellar bedroom, eating the chap’s food and taking over his sofa bed.”


Joshua Burge in a scene from Buzzard

Overall, Marty perfectly captures the paradox of an entire generation. Young people who were told that they could be anything they wanted to be if they just went to school and worked hard, emerge on the other side of adulthood to discover that it was a lie. In spite of our aversion verging on contempt for Marty, we can’t help but imagine how many twentysomethings will end up like him. Again, Independent Magazine is on point: “We’re thinking about this inert, gangly train wreck and wondering how many post-college grads stuck in unpaid internships and unemployment lines will be drawn to Buzzard as a perfect portrait of how life has failed them.”

Mr. Potrykus has never relied on conventional means to make his films. His scheming, strapped-for-cash protagonist offers to trade money for jokes. This same spirit of self-reliance and creativity reflects the director’s approach to filmmaking. According to The New York Times, “[Potrykus] bought equipment for Buzzard online and sold it on eBay.” And if you think the success of his trilogy will lure the rebel filmmaker to Hollywood, he put those speculations to rest later in the same interview: “Isolating yourself from what people think you need to do or need to own in order to accomplish something — that’s a huge part of what we do and a huge part of the stories we’re telling.”

The spirit of Buzzard is perhaps best summed up in the words of the director himself: “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.”

[For more information on Buzzard, visit filmlinc.com.]