Education

The Loser in Buzzard Spirals Near Psychosis

by

Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge) likes video games, death metal, and horror comics; he doesn’t see a future past the stone’s-throw distance of his financial horizon, immediately spending everything he makes from his shitty temp job and through a variety of hilarious scams: workers’ compensation, bogus merchandise returns, consumer complaints, and a venture into the felony territory of cashing the refund checks of his company’s clients.

Paranoid about getting caught, he first hides in his co-worker’s nerd basement (“The PARTY ZONE!”) where they eat Bugles, play last-generation video games, and have duels armed with a lightsaber and a Nintendo Power Glove modified to look like Freddy Krueger’s claw. Often very funny, the film is not a comedy; as his anxiety mounts, Marty becomes increasingly violent, fleeing to Detroit, where he sleeps in seedy motels before descending into near psychosis, destitution, and homelessness.

Director Joel Potrykus holds the camera on Marty throughout long, single-take shots, rendering other characters as unseen faces, isolating Marty in the frame like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. This occasionally becomes self-indulgent, as in a silent, four-minute scene in which Marty, wrapped in a linen robe in a hotel room, eats spaghetti and meatballs, but it’s forgivable for being the one moment of actual sensory luxury Marty enjoys in the film.

Potrykus and Burge make this transformation — from funny, oddball character study to darker portrayal of desperation — more naturally than it seems should be possible; Buzzard climaxes in an outburst of violence and an unexpectedly elegiac and haunting conclusion.