Wednesday, January 30, 2013

927. Buffalo 66 (1998)

Running Time: 110 minutes
Directed By: Vincent Gallo
Written By: Vincent Gallo, Alison Bagnall
Main Cast: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston, Ben Gazzara, Kevin Corrigan


"I'm asking you to come there and make me look good. Alright? And if you make a fool out of me, I swear to God, I'll kill you right there. Boom! Right in front of Mommy and Daddy. And I'll tell you something else, you make me look bad... I will never ever talk to you again, ever. But if you do a good job, well, then you can be my best friend. My best friend that I've ever had. You hear me?"

I'm going to start trying - with the key word here being "trying" - to include a quote, underneath the subtitle, of each review. I feel that a quote gives you readers a chance to get an even bigger taste of what the movie is all about, in addition to my review and plot synopsis. Needing something to watch until I get my next Billy Wilder movie (although I DO have "Ace in the Hole" and "The Apartment" in my possession, so I may just end up watching the Wilder movies out of order...stay tuned) I took to my DVD shelf and plucked off an old favorite.

Billy Brown (Gallo) has just been released from prison. Through back story, we learn that Billy was actually innocent. When he placed a $10,000 bet on the Buffalo Bills to win the SuperBowl, he didn't count on kicker Scott Wood missing the game winning field goal. When the bookie comes calling, Billy doesn't have the ten large to cover his bet, so in exchange the bookie asks Billy to take the blame for a crime a friend of his committed, or else "horrible things will happen to Billy and his family". Billy confesses to a crime he didn't commit and five years later finds himself released and in urgent need of a bathroom. While Billy was away, he had a friend, Goon (Corrigan), mail packages and letters to his parents and orchestrated a cover story so that his parents would just think he was away with a new job, instead of rotting away in prison. He also made up a pretend wife and threw in every detail he could think of to make himself look good in his parents eyes. When Billy finally finds a bathroom, he also finds a girl, Layla (Ricci), good looking enough to be his wife, so he kidnaps her and tells her his story. Despite being less than "nice" with her, Layla agrees to do the favor for Billy, accompanying him to his parents house and pretending to be Billy's wife, Wendy Balsam. It's becomes easy to see why Billy wanted to make himself look good in his parents eyes, as they're not very loving toward him and basically ignore him, even after not seeing him for five years. Once Billy and Layla leave Billy's parents' home, they make a few stops: Billy swings by the old bowling alley to roll a few frames, at Denny's they get beverages and run into the real Wendy Balsam and then it's off to a hotel, where Billy plans to wait until 2am, at which time he plans to murder Scott Wood, the clumsy field goal kicker who, through a series of unfortunate events, sent Billy to prison.

This is yet another one of those famed "movies my big brother showed me". Regular blog readers may recall my dislike for writing about movies that I previously enjoyed, before my journey. It's always hard for me to write about films that I've loved for so long, because in most instances I've forgotten the original reasons why I fell in love with them and it all comes down to a reason of "I just like them and that's that". But, of course, I'll try to commit my thoughts to the blog, as always.

"Buffalo 66" is unique, original, contains a great cast, despite it's less than impressive budget and has Vincent Gallo all over it - a man who doesn't look like that appealing a human being in real life, but who knocks it out of the park in his directorial debut. If you check out the history of Gallo and his actions & comments he's made toward such people as Roger Ebert and even Christina Ricci, he seems like...well, an asshole. But this blogger, when reviewing a film, is less concerned with the person and more concerned with the artist and it's not hard to see that Gallo is a talented individual, who made bold choices that paid off when it came to "Buffalo 66". The film isn't conventional, by any means. It uses unique, original shots, quirky dialogue that somehow, within the confines of this film, comes off as sounding very original and unforced and contains a plot that is both funny and sad. Literally, with a few slight turns of the screws, you could turn this film into a full blown comedy or a full blown drama, but as it is, it's both. From the opening scene of Billy Brown being released from prison, the film sucks you in and uses the hook of a man trying to find a bathroom to get us all we've all been there. A hook so simple serves as the bridge to get us invested in the rest of the picture and scene after scene we're sucked into Billy's world; hating him, loving him and, near the end, ready to cry for him.

RATING: 10/10  You know, call that a short review, but that may be one of the best paragraphs I've ever written on a movie, so call this review a success. "Buffalo 66" will undoubtedly make the next TOP 20, but in all honesty, I could see it being toppled for the #1 spot.


January 30, 2013  6:45pm

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