#182 Buffalo ’66
(1998, Vincent Gallo)
“I’m asking you to come there and make me look good”
OK, so I complained about Europe making incredibly self-indulgent movies, but it turns out it’s not exclusively a European problem. Exhibit A: Vincent Gallo. Originally an actor, it turns out he’s made a ton of independent movies, all of which seem to star him as a character that the universe seems to revolve around. Here’s Buffalo 66, a movie that seems to have been made just to satisfy Gallo’s own ego.
Gallo plays Billy Brown, a man who’s recently been let out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Having lied to his parents about disappearing due to a high-profile government job contract, he’s invited to dinner along with his non-existent wife. In order to maintain the illusion, he kidnaps a young woman, Layla (Christina Ricci), and gets her to pretend to be his wife. And then it all goes downhill from there.
First of all, let’s talk about Christina Ricci. She’s a very good actress who’s gained a lot of respect over the years despite not really getting that many huge roles beyond her child acting career. That said, I am in agreement that she deserves all the respect she’s earned, including her performance in this movie. But what’s interesting is what she had to say about working on it:
“I really didn’t understand what was going on most of the time working with a crazy lunatic man. I’d never encountered such insanity.”
So there you have it, my entire opinion of the movie summed up by its lead actress. Thank you, Christina Ricci.
Let me explain. Vincent Gallo, being the director, the writer and the star of this ridiculous movie, has proven himself to be an incredibly detestable human being. Gallo’s character was a reprehensible arsehole with absolutely no redeeming qualities. While this could considered the point of the story, and could be considered good acting on Gallo’s part that he plays the character so well, there are too many things that tip me off that Gallo is exactly like this in reality.
The script, for a start, is terrible from start to finish. The plot is meandering and has no real purpose. The plot above probably reads like some kind of dark sitcom, but honestly, there’s no humour to be found in the scenes at the family home. What’s more, the movie then leaves said family home and spends a good hour or more wandering around town for no reason. So no, this isn’t a good clever plot that’s deliberately given us a terrible lead; it’s just bad.
We’re supposed to feel sorry for Gallo because boo hoo his parents didn’t love him and he’s always been unloved, but his actions throughout the movie make it clear why he’s so unloved and he doesn’t deserve pity in the slightest. Even a scene where he breaks down in a bathroom failed to make me sympathise with this shouty, angry, crazy man who feels the need to endelessly repeat his lines because he believes that everyone around him is stupid.
Then there are subtle things in the script that make it clear this is a movie meant to satisfy a man’s ego. Early on, a random man in a toilet looks at Gallo’s penis and makes an approving comment on its size, which felt less like an important bit of dialogue and more like the author trying to remind the audience that he’s a manly man with a big appendage and you should be impressed.
And then there’s his relationship with Ricci’s character. Oh boy. Ricci, bless her, did the best job she could possibly do with such a personality-free mess of a character. She was little more than a doll meant to be put on parade by the “crazy lunatic man” just so he could be seen to be hanging around with a good-looking actress. She seemingly falls in love with this man who kidnaps her and spends much of the movie shouting and swearing at her, and there’s no real explanation for this. Stockholm Syndrome, possibly, but we get no insight into Layla’s past or motivations that could lead to her suffering from this, and as such, it piles more evidence on the self-indulgent heap. It doesn’t help that her introduction comes from a close-up of her breasts as Gallo rushes to the toilet in the background.
Oh, and did I mention that the movie is obsessed with toilets? The first ten minutes are Gallo searching for a bathroom and loudly proclaiming how much he needs to urinate. Scene transitions are frequently done by someone (usually Gallo) saying “I gotta go to the bathroom”. And let’s not forget the aforementioned penis admiration scene.
I can only think of one reason as to why this movie references toilets so much, and that’s because…it’s crap. The only redeeming aspect of this movie is Ricci herself, although her performance uncomfortably gives off the impression that she’s desperate to run off set at any given moment. Everything else is a mess.
So, to paraphrase Ricci, I really didn’t understand what was going on most of the time watching this crazy lunatic man. I have never encountered such insanity. Buffalo ’66 is a movie that needs to be flushed away.
Starring Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston & Ben Gazzara
Written by Vincent Gallo & Alison Bagnall
Produced by Chris Hanley
Music by Vincent Gallo
Cinematography by Lance Acord
Edited by Curtiss Clayton
Favourite Scene: No
Scene That Bugged Me: Why does she want to climb into a bath with him, what is this?!
Watch it if: You’re a lunatic crazy man
Avoid it if: You’re sane and like your movies to not be pretentious ego trips