Wow. I never knew I could hate a character as much as I hate Rudy in the new film by Jason Giampietro, Hernia, the most talked-about picture in the shorts program of the current New York Film Festival and the funniest movie of the year so far next to Decker: Port of Call: Hawaii. Rudy's unlikeability is breathtaking. To paraphrase another star of the NYFF, Steve Jobs, I don't mean Rudy is unlikeable in a small way; I mean it in a profound way. With every passing second of Rudy on-screen, my loathing intensifies, as though I am Dante Alighieri, and Jay Giampietro is Virgil, leading me down nine circles' worth of the Inferno that is Rudy's craven mannerisms, his churlish utterances, baffled facial expressions, weakly passive aggression, and incessant fingering of what may or may not be a perforated hernia that at the start of the film appears to vex his midsection and by the end makes its presence felt in the recess of his scrotum.
It's hard to look away. I've seen the movie six times so far, and I'm bracing myself for the seventh and eighth. All credit is due, of course, to Minnesota's Funnyman himself, Stephen Gurewitz, who in cahoots with Giampietro seems to have devised this Rudy as a toxic outgrowth of the Gurewitzian id: gaze upon this mutant Alfalfa in the pleather bomber jacket long enough and you might catch a glimpse of Gurewitz and Giampietro's yet-to-be-filmed Frankie Muniz Story.
When I see hands-free Rudy in the opening shot hop on one leg and shimmy the door at the Apple Store with his other so he can use one of the display Macs to literally bop along to a Rolling Stones YouTube video, I want to go inside the movie, be at that store, and follow Rudy to the men's room to confront him at a urinal. You get the feeling everyone else in the picture experiences a similar degree of antipathy when in Rudy's presence, especially Suzanne (Jennifer Kim) who barely tolerates such Rudyisms as: "It's not a right way to treat somebody.", or: "It's good to know finally how you feel about me. It's the way you treat me. Like the dirt on your carpet. When you don't need me, 'Oh, throw it in the garbage'!", or: "'How's Rudy?' It's not hard to say. Just ask that once and again." His words to her as she draws him a hot bath are utterly risible.
This fool is shot by Sean Price Williams and Adam Ginsberg, and recorded by Ginsberg and Keith Poulson. Nathan Silver makes a cameo as a gum-chewer named Arthur who memorably dispels the Rudester. (Now to paraphrase Morrissey, the way Silver jaws his wad in this scene "rips right through your senses"; it would be great to follow this character too for maybe five minutes or whatever's reasonable.) Giampietro (who also makes a cameo as the dude outside the shop) edits the thing brilliantly and exhibits perfect comedic timing. Of course you should know Jay's work from his NoBudge-featured short Whiffed Out (one of my best of 2014), and from his NYC street-photography Instagram account, which is the best Instagram account in the world.
As for Gurewitz, his eminently hate-watchable Rudy gives Brie Larson a run for her money (not the least reason being only Gurewitz has the courage to fish around for treasure in the front of his pants while a real-life passer-by howls "Degenerate!"). If Gurewitz were on TV this past week, what could Meredith Vieira even ask this actor? "Tell us about Rudy."? I'll tell you about Rudy: he takes three bites in succession from a Papaya Dog and he has absolutely no place in society. He has absolutely no dignity.