Buffalo '66 (1998)

Buffalo '66 (1998)
 
 

Gallo's Humour

Vincent Gallo as Billy Brown in Buffalo '66 (1998)

I reckon when actor Vincent Gallo decided to write and direct "Buffalo '66" he had all these thoughts, repressed issues, ideas, camera angles, subplots whizzing around inside his head and just spurted them out in some form of cathartic release. In doing so he has concocted, and concocted is definitely the right word, this strange movie which as a whole just doesn't work, it's too chaotic and diverse yet all those individual elements do work. What that means is that whilst "Buffalo '66" is a movie about romance, revenge and redemption which feels disjointed but you will end up engrossed by all the individual elements and both Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci's brilliant performances.

Having jus done time for a crime he most certainly didn't commit Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo) is out and heading home to visit his parents, except they don't know he's been inside they think he has an important government job and is married forcing Billy to kidnap Layla (Christina Ricci - That Darn Cat) and forcing her too pretend to be his wife. But that is not the only reason for Billy returning home as he is also after revenge and is looking for the man he blames for his incarceration.

Christina Ricci as Layla in Buffalo '66 (1998)

Let me give you an example of what goes on in "Buffalo '66"; after being released from prison Billy waits outside and then sometime later rings the bell on the gate and asks to use the prison toilet. It doesn't end there because we have a series of scenes where we follow Billy's desperate attempts to find somewhere to relieve himself. Now the point of this is that it concludes with him entering a dance class to use the bathroom and kidnapping Layla but it is a long and protracted way of getting to this point. Don't get me wrong because in its own way it is amusing but it feels like an idea which Gallo had for a series of scenes and threw them into the mix whether the movie really needed this prolonged and ultimately unimportant opening.

And that is what we basically get through out the entire movie, a lot of amusing ideas thrown into the story which are genuinely entertaining but stop "Buffalo '66" from feeling in the least bit coherent. In truth even without these various moments of irrelevant entertainment which range from a series of scenes in a bowling alley which features Layla tap dancing to the dysfunctional family reunion where Billy's father buries his head in Layla's ample cleavage the storyline would have still ended up disjointed. Why? Well basically we have three concepts going on: romance, revenge and redemption but in truth they only take focus during the final third of the movie as before that it is just randomness. It's not just random quirky scenes but it is also random camera angles and flashback ideas which whilst original also end up annoying.

But yet for all this incoherent randomness you still find yourself engrossed by all the individual aspects none more so than the performances from the stars. Vincent Gallo delivers this intense yet amusing performance of a man full of issues from not liking too be touched to the cleanliness of bed sheets. And then there is Christina Ricci who to be honest is distracting because of her ample, snowy white cleavage which fills many a scene. But Ricci delivers more than just cleavage as she delivers this hypnotic character who is captivating as much in her moments of silence as she is when she is talking. There are other entertaining performances as well none more so from Anjelica Huston and Ben Gazzara as Billy's parents but the combination of Gallo and Ricci is brilliant even if at times their characters and their actions make no sense at all.

What this all boils down to is that as a whole I didn't like "Buffalo '66" and it felt like an explosion of bottled up ideas and issues. But all those ideas and issues work individually to create a movie which you might not like but you can't stop watching.

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