Buffalo '66 (1998) (R)
There's nothing funny about "Buffalo '66" though the movie tries to capture the damage of a broken mind with the fluffy air of romance...it does not treat nature its justice. Okay, so what the hell does that mean? While masquerading as some sort of twisted comedy, the underlying messages given to people in "Buffalo '66" are only disturbing, nothing more.
The movie begins as Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo, the writer and director) gets released from prison. He has to pee, really bad but he has to wait around for the bus, take them bus, and then find a bathroom. Everywhere is closed so he runs into a dance studio and tries to pee there but can't because some guy can't stop staring at how big his penis is....no joke, this is actually the first twenty minutes of the movie.
While it is easy to see the condensed plot-line and think "wow, this is a piece of crap", it's better to look at how Gallo frames his stories. He shoots "Buffalo '66" in a hyper-realistic way, borrowing from John Cassavetes, and uses a Tarantino flair of surrealism. It's campy, beautiful, and usually works seamlessly, which is why Gallo is able to get away with having the first twenty minutes of his movie be about a man trying to find a bathroom.
But then the movie hits a snag with the introduction of the female character. As Billy is searching for a bathroom, and inside the dance studio is Layla (Christina Ricci) who is dressed like a naughty doll. Her pouty lips, makeup , and cleavage don't really make tap-dancing class easy; but there you have it. On a side note, when we see her later, tap-dancing, we can tell that she had no idea what she's doing; but that's just a personal issue. After screaming at her and calling her loads of names, Billy has to ask for a quarter so he can use the pay phone to call his parents.
Two things we should talk about: Billy and his parents.
Billy first. Billy is a motor mouth, he can barely shut up when he gets going and when he turns off he turns off. Silent, brooding, emotionally damaged, and clearly scarred from a childhood from hell, Billy is not a nice person. He is pretty screwed up and we can see that in the way he treats Layla.
Second, his parents. His parents are so freakin' weird that it becomes hard to think they exist! Billy's mom (played by Anjelica Houston) is so obsessed with football that the one game that she missed was the game that she had to miss because she was giving birth to Billy. She regrets having him for this. His father (Ben Gazzara) is no different, and one flashback we see has the father strangling the family dog in front of his son.
So you add the parents to the boy and you get a full-feldged psychopath. Voila! Heeeeeeeere's Billy!
When he calls his parents when can see that he has constructed a ruse so that they don't know he was in prison. He tells them that he's bringing his girl over, but he doesn't have a girl, so what does a rational mind like Billy do? He nabs the first bitch he can find and shoves her in the car. Who is said woman? Layla of course!
The problem here is that Gallo is arrogant enough to think that Layla would immediately fall in love with Billy just because he's hot.
This is where the commentary needs to start about what movies are teaching men and women. This, more than anything else, is hard for me to say, because "Buffalo '66" as a movie is fine. The style is easy to watch and the acting is good; but I don't like what it is saying.
You're a critic, get over it!
Well, it's not that easy because here's the problem: Gallo shoots "Buffalo '66" in such a realistic fashion that the sudden love for Billy by Lalya can only be seen as lazy writing. It would not happen! He literally kidnaps her and she falls in love.
This isn't Stockholm Syndrome either because by the end of the movie, he finds meaning in his life by having love and the final image of the two is romantic.
Posted by Micah Jones