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Buffalo '66 -- an egocentric yet ever fascinating film

 
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.11.2004 8:40 pm    Post subject: Buffalo '66 -- an egocentric yet ever fascinating film Reply with quote

Who's seen it? I'd love to discuss it.
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.12.2004 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What -- no-one's seen this? Shame, shame...
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.12.2004 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope, sorry. This is a friend of mine's favorite movie, and she pesters me incessantly about watching it, so, you know, even the title has lost it luster for me.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 02.12.2004 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw it back in 1998 and really dug it -- but I haven't seen it since, so my memory of it is a bit fuzy.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.13.2004 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:
I saw it back in 1998 and really dug it -- but I haven't seen it since, so my memory of it is a bit fuzy.


Same here. I remember finding it mesmerizing, especially in terms of the dialogue, but also thinking of the finale as rather desperate. I've never felt the desire to revisit it.

Eric
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The Third M?n
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Joined: 09 Sep 2003
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Location: Chasing Stef around post-war Vienna

PostPosted: 02.13.2004 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:
I saw it back in 1998 and really dug it -- but I haven't seen it since, so my memory of it is a bit fuzy.


Same here. I remember finding it mesmerizing, especially in terms of the dialogue, but also thinking of the finale as rather desperate. I've never felt the desire to revisit it.

Eric


I loved the finale. It is desperate, because that is precisely the feeling that Bill [Gallo's character] is feeling at the moment. The ending is a rushed and somewhat desperate, simply because that's how Bill transforms -- very quickly and with no previous warning. And the moral of it all is uplifting.
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 03.13.2004 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, here's my review of it, if anyone is interested, which I wrote last night:

Buffalo '66 (1998, Gallo)



Is Vincent Gallo's experimental debut pretentious, self-indulgent, egocentric, showy and crammed with many semi-autobiographic details? You bet it is. Are those aspects for the detriment of the film? Not at all -- they're actually what make Buffalo '66 so special. It has to be said: this film will most likely rock your socks. It is inimitable, one-of-a-kind and, to put it bluntly, astounding. A disregarded gem of contemporary indie cinema anxiously waiting to be found, Buffalo ?66 is the work of an artist who simply wants to show the world what he can do. But before walking into this film, everyone should firstly know that Gallo?s not your typical film director. He?s a very awkward guy, what with his self-centred manners and everything ? could that be why he not only directed the film, but co-wrote it, scored it and starred in it? ? and let?s just say that his philosophies on life are far from normal. He?s not normal either, nor was his own life, because apparently this film was loosely based upon it. He claims the character of Billy?s mother was based upon his [in fact he didn?t even bother to change her name] and there?s a scene in which Gazzara sings a song that apparently, his own father recorded for him. Vincent Gallo?s film is exceedingly strange and at times melancholic, but the component that most amazes is its sheer originality; both in style and narrative.

Why some critics deemed this film as ?shallow? is way beyond me. While the film may not be richly rewarding in terms of internal content, it sure has a lot to say ? and, better yet, it knows how to say it. This is a film whose overall message is a very uplifting one, but before it is communicated to the audience [in the ending scene] we are witness to sordid settings in an angry world where there is, supposedly, no room for happiness. Vincent Gallo's character, Billy, is psychologically complex in every sense of the word; he gets mad at anything, is embarrassed by his grotwsque parents and seems to hate the opposite sex. The film is about his metamorphosis into a better person and, as the course of the film goes on, we see him gradually change by the powers of love. Because that?s all there is: the film is ultimately about love -- or lack thereof ? and about what it can do to people, the way it can affect their lives and their way of living.

Billiy Brown has just got out of prison. After five years in there because of a 10,000 dollar bet that he couldn?t pay, he now has to reconstruct his life. In order to impress his parents, who haven?t got a clue where he?s been all that time, he kidnaps a girl from a dance school, Layla, and tells her to pretend to be his wife. Surprisingly, she behaves well and does as she?s told. But after visiting his parents will come vengeance: he will kill the kicker who missed the field goal and made him waste five years of his life. But first of all, Billy has to piss. The thing is, he can?t find a bathroom to do such a thing.

Vincent Gallo, the artist, the model and the musician also happens to be a wonderful actor. He?s a bizarre-looking person, what with his pointy nose and oversized jaw and his sleepy eyes that make him look as though he hasn?t gone to bed in years; but there?s no denying that in Buffalo ?66 he does a superlative job. As an enraged, self-indulgent individual, Billy Brown comes across as a very unique character; he?s mad, selfish, rude, furious about his own life and hateful to others. Gallo portrays him to near perfection, perhaps because he?s like him in a way or because his acting skills are simply superb. Either way, it works ? Gallo illustrates Brown carefully and skilfully, showing us his phobias and his sexual anorexia; his dislike of women, partly due to the fact that his mother never did treat him that well, is finely shown. But I bet that the emptiness of your life will be filled when you see how charming Christina Ricci is in this. There aren?t enough words to describe her. She?s utterly and completely enchanting; irresistible, lovely and gullible. Just you wait till you see her do her tap dance number to King Crimson?s Moonchild in a bowling alley. Marvellous! Supporting work from Ben Gazzara and Angelica Huston as the football-obsessed mother is also fantastic, and Mickey Rourke?s cameo is as unexpected as it is great. All in all, one reaches the conclusion that Gallo clearly knows how to cast a film.

Buffalo '66 is a film unlike no other. It is hilarious, challenging and provocative. But it is the strangeness that it contains [which, funnily enough, is made look somewhat normal] which strikes you first and foremost. From the very beginning the viewer is thrown into a raw, grey reality; but when we suddenly witness a desperate Billy, grasping his groin and looking for a toilet, we don?t know whether to laugh or do otherwise ? such is the tension that the character is feeling, that pressure, that our intentions are never fully fulfilled, simply because we do not know them. Such sensations are repeated throughout the film; when Layla and Billy are having lunch with his parents at the dinner table and he?s constantly humiliated in unimaginable ways, what to do? Do we laugh at him or feel for him? The quirky humour that pervades the film is very characteristic; it?s witty, subtle and yet manages to be laugh-out-loud funny. Scenes involving Billy?s dad killing a dog for no real reason, chocolate allergy, a gay who keeps looking at Billy while he?s peeing and a dim-witted guy eating crisps are all rather memorable. At one moment Billy?s mother complains that his son was born when the Bills were winning their last championship ? she?s still upset and won?t forgive him for doing such a thing.

But in Buffalo ?66 there is far more than mere humour. Aesthetically, the film is very interesting. It possesses a ?look at me? kind of quality to it that, though it may be pretentious ? I don?t really care ? works exceedingly well and emphasises our curiosity. Photographed by Lance Accord, of Lost in Translation fame, the film has a look to it that has seldom been seen before. While the greyness of it all is rather startling, it is the colours that are juxtaposed with it that makes it all the more contrasting. Vincent Gallo?s techniques are all fresh and stylish; unceasing jump cuts in the very same scene, which looks straight out of a French New Wave film, picture-within-picture flashbacks, multiple images in the same scene and a technique in which the camera rotates round a freeze frame. The results of all these are edgy and cool [the bowling sequence is awesome], giving the film a distinguished, unique look to it. It is evident that Gallo is an avid film freak who?s watched too many films, because his cinematic geekiness is almost palpable here. He paid homage to Ozu?s visual style during the dinner table sequence and is referred to by the OZU on the license plate of Layla's car. He claims he has over 7,000 movies. Or so he says.

Buffalo ?66 is a film about many things. It deals with hatred, desperation, confusion, poignancy, loss, melancholy. But above all, love. It is in the intimate scenes with Layla and Billy where we discover what love or getting to deeply know one another can bring. The things that are not said are, more often than not, the most expressive of all. Billy chooses not to opt for revenge and instead decides to buy Layla a cookie, in the brilliant finale. Gallo?s film is ultimately and optimistic one in which the message is finely evoked to us. A character study at its core and a stunning satire of family dysfunction, Buffalo ?66 is one of the best films I have ever seen in recent memory. Not only because it?s daring and though-provoking, but because it gets its Breathless-like storyline and takes it to another level. This is a quirky, funny and stimulating film we?re talking about, sensational in every sense of the word; the work of an independent creature with an ardent desire to be heard. To deny Gallo?s brilliance would be a dire mistake.
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 03.13.2004 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And by any chance, has anyone seen The Brown Bunny? I'm actually dying to see it, just to see if it's as bad as some say.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.13.2004 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The French seem to like it. Make of that what you will. Laughing
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nekjay
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PostPosted: 05.11.2004 12:44 am    Post subject: Yes, I Love It! Reply with quote

Quote:
A character study at its core and a stunning satire of family dysfunction, Buffalo ?66 is one of the best films I have ever seen in recent memory.




Yes, I love the movie too! I especially liked this line from your review. This is a neat way of thinking about the movie and not something I had thought about. As a vision of family dysfunction, it is unparalled. It is also a pretty original movie and one I find myself thinking about from time to time. I can't say that about many films, and I've seen a lot. I've seen many films that affected me powerfully at the time, only to forget all about them. This one sticks with me for some reason.



I've seen it twice, once when it first came out and once on video about four years ago. Must get it again soon. The funniest scene I can remember is the one where Gallo and Ricci are in the photo booth and he starts talking about "spanning time." I really cracked up when I first saw that. Very strange and funny.



What you wrote about a "'Breathless'-like storyline" and Gallo paying homage to his favorite directors really piqued my interest. The first time I saw the movie, I had never seen a film by Godard or almost anyone who made movies more than 20 years ago; know that I know a bit more about the this stuff, I will have to watch "Bufallo" again in light of what you have said. Then maybe I can add something to the conversation. Anyway, just wanted to let you know you are not alone. I too think it is a very interesting (and very strange) movie.[/quote][/list]
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