UNDISCOVERED GEMS – BUFFALO ’66 (1998)

buffalo

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston, Ben Gazzara, Mickey Rourke, Rosanna Arquette

Directed by: Vincent Gallo

Synopsis: Billy is released after five years in prison. In the next moment, he kidnaps teenage student Layla and visits his parents with her, pretending she is his girlfriend and they are soon to marry.

I remember I bought this movie on a whim one day, a good ten years ago, based on the cover looking cool. I had no idea who Vincent Gallo was, and not really much clue about independent cinema if I’m honest. I was in my early twenties and fresh from getting an education in the likes of Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino and any other classic ‘Golden Era’ movies you could throw at me. I have to say, in that regard Buffalo ’66 floored me. I thought it was wonderful.

Now, I know Vincent Gallo is largely derided and hated amongst most people, and some of his film choices and personal views are questionable, but the guy is talented. He wrote, directed, starred in and scored this movie to perfection.

It’s the fairly simple story of Billy (Gallo) being released from prison and kidnapping Layla (Ricci) to take home to meet his parents who think he is married and working some place else. They have no idea that he has been to prison. In fact, I’m not sure why Billy would go and see them anyway as they are pretty horrible parents! After a family meal Billy heads off with Layla and their relationship, against the odds, starts to blossom. Billy, who is in a constant state of agitation starts to open up, and Layla helps him.

Gallo is great in his own film, and is supported well by Ricci. They really are the odd couple, with he being wound up tighter than a watch spring, and she being a seemingly young and naive wannabe tap dancer. There is drama in the film, and some comedic moments as well. There is the odd surreal musical moment within the film, and a nice minimal score from Gallo backing the film.

Gallo shot parts of the film in his old childhood home, and has indicated the parents (Huston and Gazarra) are based on his own. You get the sense that it is a personal project, and it is certainly one he hasn’t matched since. But who cares when this one is so good.

4.5 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.

12 comments

  1. Saw this movie when it was still in theaters and loved it immediately. It didn’t hurt that he used a couple of Yes songs (“Heart Of The Sunrise” and “Sweetness,” I believe) to great effect…they’re one of my favorite bands. I watched it once when I bought the DVD and I still liked it, but haven’t been compelled to watch it again. I have a feeling it would hold up well. Glad you seemed to like it as much as I did.

    • Yeah it’s one of my faves I think Rich. I was aware that Gallo was a Yes fan, but I can’t say I am personally. Have you heard any of Gallo’s own stuff? It’s hit and miss, but some of its nice. Particularly the song ‘When’.

      • I have his “Recordings Of Music For Film” CD which was interesting enough for me to keep but I don’t remember much about it now. I’ll have to give it a spin one of these days.

      • I’ve not heard that, but I have a feeling it has some of the same tunes as the album he did for Warp Records, which I think was also called When. It’s decent enough.

  2. Nice review, Tom! I liked this film quite a bit myself. Would be curious to hear your thoughts on The Brown Bunny 🙂

  3. ezraarze

    Reblogged this on ezraarze.

  4. This is definitely an undiscovered gem for me, as I’ve never heard of it! I find that Christina Ricci does surprisingly good movies, though.

  5. Sometimes it’s weird, sometimes it’s honest and heartfelt. But overall, it’s a movie worth seeing because of just how much of an effort Gallo seemed to put into this. Good review.

  6. Thanks for this review, Tom. Apparently a case of ‘must watch’. 🙂

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