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“The sweetest, most gentle demented stalker film ever made”: “Chuck & Buck” Turns Ten

“The sweetest, most gentle demented stalker film ever made”: “Chuck & Buck” Turns Ten (photo)

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It’s always seems like something of a miracle that Mike White’s pitch-black comedy “Chuck & Buck” exists, but there was extra reason for celebration over the weekend as the film celebrated its tenth anniversary at the Cinefamily in Los Angeles. With cases of Stella Artois and Corona tucked under his arms, director Miguel Arteta handed out bottles to friends from the cast and crew like a proud father.

“That is definitely the sweetest, most gentle demented stalker film ever made,” said Cinefamily owner Hadrian Belove, who, in spite of planning the screening, still seemed surprised when he looked to his left after the film ended. “There are so many people here I don’t even know where to start.”

Sitting beside him was star/writer White, Arteta, co-stars Lupe Ontiveros and Paul and Chris Weitz, and producer Matthew Greenfield, an impressive enough group even without those who got their starts on the film like a pre-“SNL” Maya Rudolph and “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer, who was Arteta’s assistant at the time. (Heck, “The Expendables”‘ Terry Crews worked security on the film, getting a big laugh from the audience when his name appeared in the credits.)

Since “Chuck & Buck” came out to considerable acclaim and each of its filmmakers has made their own mark in the years since its release, it’s easy to forget what a risky and daring film it was at the time. White recounted how he was irritated by films of the era that had a “nostalgia for childhood” when he felt “kids are also a little twisted.” The result was the story of a social misfit named Buck (White) who becomes fixated on his childhood friend Chuck (Chris Weitz) after his mother’s death, their games as children far less innocent than hide-and-seek, and follows Chuck out to Los Angeles where he recreates their youth with a disturbing play.

08172010_ChuckBuck2.jpg“I asked [White] why he wanted me to do it and he said, ‘well, you seem a little bit down, a little crazy,'” Arteta recalled when his Weselyan pal handed him the screenplay when he was struggling to direct his first film. “‘You might be able to relate.'”

Of course, the audience tittered when Arteta mentioned this since “Chuck & Buck” remains, on its surface, a largely inscrutable coming-of-age story, yet it “haunted” Arteta, who spoke of how he backed out of his promise to make the film, only to decide two years later after having an operation he needed to keep his word.

“I had a fever and all night long, I didn’t sleep, thinking about Buck,” said Arteta. “I woke up and I told Matthew [Greenfield], “You know what? Fuck it. Don’t think about making any other movies. It’s got to be ‘Chuck & Buck.'”

After what he called a “challenging experience” on what would be Arteta’s first feature (1997’s “Star Maps”), Greenfield said the duo wanted to make a film with friends, which led to casting the Weitzes, who were on the verge of becoming A-List writer/directors with “American Pie,” as Buck’s old and new pals in Los Angeles. Chris recalled accepting the role without actually reading the script, specifically that he left a message on Arteta’s voicemail that joked, “As long as it doesn’t involve anal sex, I’m your man.”

“Then I got to page 72 [of the script],” he deadpanned. “I had a feverish night [too] where I thought I don’t know if I can do this and I thought well, you’re such a pinko lefty and now you’re finally faced with living up to your convictions.”

Ontiveros also signed on without reading the script, as soon as Arteta told her she would be playing a character named Beverly, which clearly wasn’t the “stereotype shit for Latino women” she was used to.

08172010_ChuckBuck4.jpgShe reveled in telling the story of how White called her in tears when she won a National Board of Review Award for best supporting actress in 2001, “an honest to goodness fucking award.” And Paul Weitz shared how for the part of the dim bulb New Jerseyan actor Sam, he had Pompton Plains’ very own Jason Biggs read the “Chuck and Buck” script for him, “just to get the cadence.”

A decade on, Chris Weitz and Arteta both marveled at how the film held up, with Weitz commenting on Arteta’s command of deep focus as he shot on video, and how “Chuck & Buck” is “like a horror movie, except it doesn’t scare you. It just makes you deeply, deeply uncomfortable… but in kind of an enjoyable way.”

White remembered that feeling from shortly after the film premiered at Sundance in 2000. Standing in a men’s room in Los Angeles upon coming back from Park City, White recalled, “Some guy was in the urinal next to me, [and] he’s like ‘I feel really uncomfortable standing next to you.'” White paused. “And I think it was because he recognized me from the movie.”

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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