Tag Archives: Punk rock

Buzzard (2015)

6 Jun

Richard Linklater‘s seminal debut Slacker introduced a new kind of anti-hero into the world of indie cinema. A weird mix blend between bum and punk, these jobless but idealistically carefree characters live from one moment to the next without any regard for modern societal structures aka – “The Man”.  Almost 25 years later, and the slacker persona is still going strong, albeit in a the form of our metalhead protagonist Marty (Joshua Burge).

Directed by Joel Potrykus, Buzzard  is a sort of reincarnation of the early 90’s mumblecore. While the film feels ridiculously low budget, Potrykus takes his serious DIY attitude to the filmmaking process and his passion for his characters shines through.

Marty is your ultimate deadbeat. He is a temp at a banking chain where he spends his time trying to cut corners and make a spare buck or two by stealing company supplies and reselling them at OfficeMax. His seemingly only friend is coworker Derek (played by Potrykus), a videogame obsessed manchild living in the self-proclaimed “Party Zone” which is really just code for his parent’s basement. Things get hairy for Marty when a scheme to cheat his company out of a few bucks pathetically backfires and forces Marty to be on the run from the law.

Buzzard is a film teeming with brilliant, original, and often hilariously awkward and confrontational ideas about anti-capitalism and deadbeat culture. The cinematic execution of these ideas is where Buzzard falls short. Potrykus is a very gifted writer and his enthusiasm for his characters is obvious. However, his moments on-screen as a character are mostly awfully-acted and the bromance between him and Burge fails to resonate. Buzzard is an amateur production and it sadly shows in everything from the makeup to the lighting to the editing.

However, there is something uniquely charming about Buzzard and especially Burge’s portrayal of Marty that makes the film a compelling watch. It starts of with a bang of energy set to heavy metal that gently escalates into violence. The third act surpassingly makes a sad but sincere attempt at bringing out the emotional core of the story; it would have worked perfectly if the film had been given a solid editing treatment.

Bottom line: If you can stomach the student-level acting and production, Buzzard is an authentically funny entertaining film reminiscent of early 90’s indies. It also showcases huge potential for director Joel Potrykus and actor Joshua Burge.

Rating: 6/10

Film Recipe: Napoleon Dynamite (2004) + Clerks (1994)

Dope (Sundance 2015)

7 Feb

What do you do if you are a black kid growing up in a black neighborhood (Inglewood CA to be precise) who is into white culture? For Malcom (Shameik Moore),  the protagonist of Sundance Film Festival film Dope, the answer isn’t so easy. Malcom is self-descirbed as a huge 90’s hip hop fan. Him and his two best friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolri) play in a punk rock band called Oreo. He also gets good grades and wants to go to Harvard after he graduates. One night, a chance encounter at a local drug dealer’s party leads Malcom down a series of crazy adventures as he tries to evade law enforcement and rival dealers.

Dope is a terribly exciting mash-up film of several themes and ideas that dominate today’s pop culture landscape. An envelope pusher for sure, Dope brings all sorts of cultural issues to the forefront including racial bias, party culture, LGBT issues, drug abuse, and the need to stay relevant in an increasingly viral society. The story is told through shifting perspectives that highlight multiple events reminiscent of films like Pulp Fiction or Run Lola Run. Featuring a healthy dose of snappy dialogue, Dope starts off with a bang and builds upon itself until the film’s final act. It’s so tempting to caught up in the rush and energy of this thing, that it’s easy to forget how bad parts of it are. Most of the characters are one-dimensional stereotypes you only see in the worst kind of comedies, and the story jumps around from place to place without much explanation. But there was this inexplicable charm from Dope that kept me intrigued, even as the film tragically falls of the rails during it’s last half (about the point where our main trio sporadically decide to become drug dealers in order to impress a Harvard alumni).

Dope then turns into an atypical R-rated stoner comedy fueled by sugarcoated pop songs by Pharrell Williams, cameos by ASAP Rocky and Zoe Kravitz, and some Morgan Freeman-esc narration by Forest Whitaker. Too ambitious for its own good, the film reaches some major pacing issues during its last half hour and is in desperate need of a skilled editor’s cut. As it stands, Dope is a fun, fast-paced mashup that will be loved by the internet generation, but a possible disappointment for those looking for something more substantial. As a potential mainstream crowdpleaser though, the film sold at an unusually high amount at Sundance to Open Road Films (somewhere around 7 million?), and should have a very healthy theatrical release sometime this summer. Keep your eyes peeled.

Rating: 6/10 

Similar to: Dear White People, Pinapple Express, The Lego Movie