Coyote (2010)

Josh Burge plays an unhealthy loser in this, if you can imagine. Josh wakes up next to a body by the river, walks back to the derelict house he stays in, lip-syncs(?) a song by Chance Jones then listens to Paul Simon and Minor Threat and shoots heroin. Wakes up by the river again, steals and pawns a boombox, smokes crack while playing a stolen tape of french songs, becomes a werewolf, goes out and kills a couple guys, just a regular week.


Thing from the Factory by the Field (2022)

“You were like in love with Michael Jackson last year. You’re not deep, or dark or whatever.” Teens starting a band bring the new, square girl in town to a field for an initiation ritual. Liz shoots her crossbow into the air and happens to hit a minor demon, then finishes it off with a rock. Now they’re worried that Liz will go to hell, so the churchy new girl takes charge, saying it’s not a sin to kill for hunting, so someone has to eat it. Not very snappy until the end, the whole thing having been a setup for a McDonald’s joke. Made me feel a little ill, so it’s partly successful.


Visited Joel’s vimeo page… I didn’t watch “Joel Calls Indie Film Type Dudes” yet, but did watch him goofing on Radiohead with an electric toothbrush.

Another Potrykus movie where Josh Burge plays a slacker / scammer / gamer, and his life gets increasingly complicated and dire.

Two great additions here: a Freddy Krueger power glove, and the director playing Josh’s friend/rival Derek. Per Mike D’Angelo, “Obviously, Chekhov’s Gloveblades dictate a climactic moment of violence.”

I’m the oddball who watched the director’s followups The Alchemist Cookbook and Relaxer before finally getting to this, so it’s funny seeing all the contemporary reviews about the great promise Potrykus shows. Promise fulfilled, more specifically than they imagined: Josh gaming on the couch, all decade long.

The Stranger by the Lake issue of Cinema Scope makes a cameo in a convenience store magazine rack, and Potrykus got a feature story a few issues later.

Growing up, European cinema was always exotic and incredibly distant. I wasn’t prepared for the tables to turn. Suddenly I felt like we were the ambassadors of not so much American independent cinema, but of the Midwest as a landscape. Ape‘s empty city streets and mundane convenience-store bureaucracies were now the exotic.

After Ape and The Alchemist Cookbook, Potrykus joins some others (Ben Wheatley, Bruno Dumont) in that select group of recent filmmakers who I can’t quite say I love, but I feel I need to see everything they’ve made right away.

Abbie (Ape-man Joshua Burge) spends the entire 90-minute movie in his undies on the couch. First he’s attempting a “challenge” timed by abusive older brother Cam (David Dastmalchian of Ant Man and the Wasp). It’s established that Abbie has never completed a challenge, and now he’s attempting something involving rounds of a skateboarding video game with drinks of milk in between, and we know where the movie is headed when he secretly pees in the milk jug while Cam is downstairs finding his Billy Mitchell issue of Nintendo Power. After Abbie’s terrible, disgusting failure, he gets “one more final, ultimate challenge” – to stay on the couch and defeat Mitchell’s unbeatable Pac-Man record before Y2K.

Abbie convinces a friend (Andre Hyland, The Death of Dick Long) to come help, but Dallas just watches tapes of Abbie embarrassing himself, eats all his food and ditches. Adina Howard (a mid-90’s music star) comes over with food and comics, says the final level of Pac-Man is unbeatable but gives Abbie some tips. He practices mind control on her guy Cortez (hey, it’s Cortez from Alchemist Cookbook!), offers 10k of his winnings to the exterminator to leave the couch in place and bring sandwiches, and he uses an endless supply of duct tape and videotape to operate and document his tiny kingdom.

Is the entire first 80 minutes worth suffering through to reach the final act, in a post-Y2K wasteland, when Abbie finally rises from the couch and uses the telekinetic powers he has honed in his seclusion to explode the head of his returning brother? Probably, yeah.

I still want to catch up with Coyote and Buzzard, but had the chance to see this first, and like Ape, it’s about a delusional loner – and now that Relaxer is out, it looks like Potrykus is gonna make a career of cult indie films about delusional loners, not the worst idea. Or maybe the overall theme is “in Canada, you gotta make your own entertainment.”

Ty Hickson (Gimme the Loot) lives alone in the woods, is paranoid and undernourished and working through a series of occult rituals towards certain wealth. At the end it seems he’s just self-destructively off his meds.

Amari Cheatom returns as Cortez in Relaxer, hinting at a Potrykus Connected Multiverse, even though he is a zombie by the end of this movie.

Low-key indie comedy about a weirdo misfit pyro stand-up comedian. Bits of surreal dream-logic invade the story now and then, and I like how there’s no “normal” reality that the movie returns to. The comedian buys an apple from a fruit-stand seller in a cheap devil suit, and after eating it an an apple tree starts growing through his skin. He kills his abusive neighbor with a baseball bat, commits petty arson & vandalism, has basic money problems, sometimes bombs onstage and sometimes does alright, and all these things are given equal weight. This could forever sit comfortably on the cult shelf of any video store, if video stores still existed.

Theoretically we’re rooting for pyro drifter Joshua Burge (also of Buzzard and Coyote) even though he’s really not a good comedian, has rage issues and nothing much going on. His rivals, besides the now-dead neighbor, include a bald fellow comedian, the comedy club owner who keeps bumping Josh from the schedule, a werewolf car-lot mascot, a convenience store clerk, a bike thief, a heckler, and of course The Devil. After taking care of the neighbor, Joel has a string of good luck and minor rebellions, but is also getting taken down by the apple tree, and finally he ends up inside the ape suit.

Potrykus in Cinema Scope, on debuting in Locarno:

Growing up, European cinema was always exotic and incredibly distant. I wasn’t prepared for the tables to turn. Suddenly, I felt like we were the ambassadors of not so much American independent cinema, but of the Midwest as a landscape. Ape’s empty city streets and mundane convenience-store bureaucracies were now the exotic. Locarno as a whole quickly picked up on the politics of the film that are normally overlooked in the US, the subtle racial commentary and economic issues. To them, it became a full-blown political film … I plan on sticking around Michigan as long as I can. I think it’s important to stick with the people who understand you and have been there since the early days … In the end, I just want to hammer out a weird little shack in the forest with my friends, not construct a tacky skyscraper with a bunch of strangers.

Bonus: the illustrated movie poster is great… this is the second LNKarno pick with a poster I wanna own (and both movies have scenes where audio tapes get destroyed, hmm). The guy who played the devil became a director, making a string of demon and alien movies… must’ve gotten really into his role. The rival comic and even Dorito Guy are also directors – looks like there’s a happening scene up in Michigan.