Review: Bissinger documentary ‘Buzz’ explores writer’s desires in scattershot focus
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and “Friday Night Lights” author H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger has made a well-earned name for himself in the world of journalism. But in the concerted effort of his filmmaker friend Andrew Shea to turn the high-powered writer and professed leather-fetishizing cross-dresser into a poster figure for all things gender questioning, the scattershot documentary “Buzz” fumbles the identity-politics ball.
The movie covers a recent year or so when Bissinger was celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Friday Night Lights” with updated material and a book tour, working with Caitlyn Jenner on her memoir (after writing her famous Vanity Fair coming-out story), and grappling with a third marriage straining under the behavioral/financial chaos of his quest for his authentic sexual self. (Leather is expensive, and when does seeing a dominatrix officially become cheating?) A bulldog personality with painted nails who’s energized by Jenner’s be-yourself example even as he interacts with her during writing sessions as if they’re snapping towels in a locker room, Bissinger’s professed internal struggles play less like “Who am I?” and more like “Hey, look over here!”
When the focus is his marriage — with wife Lisa a sympathetic figure confused by what their relationship exactly is — “Buzz” hints at emotional complexity. But there’s a sour narcissism to this white, successful, talented man that smacks of a bid for hot-topic relevance rather than a model for how the unseen and uncertain can find peace and acceptance.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: Starts Sept. 20, Laemmle Glendale; debuts Sept. 25 on HBO.
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.