Buffalo 66

Buffalo 66

directed by Vincent Gallo

starring Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci

Vincent Gallo is, from all appearances, something of a psycho as well as being a writer/director/actor. You might have noticed the psycho streak in a Johnny Depp film called Arizona Dreams, in which Gallo pantomimes the cropduster scene from North By Northwest as a performance piece at a talent show. But his psycho persona is even more in evidence in relationship to his new film Buffalo 66. Before even mentioning the film, Gallo’s promotional efforts in the last few months have been legendary — openly argumentative and hostile to the press. But that makes a kind of sense since this movie is all about anger and passion over anything and everything. Buffalo 66 gives passion and dramatic weight to the most ridiculous moments, which is almost every moment in this film.

Billy Brown (Gallo) is in prison because he lost a bet and confesses to a crime to pay that bet. When he gets out, he is warped by the need to get revenge on a Buffalo Bills kicker for losing a big game. The more we learn about Billy, the more we think he was always warped. He kidnaps Layla (Christina Ricci) from a tap dance school to present to his parents as his wife. Layla is bubbleheaded enough to like the idea. Billy’s parents, Jimmy and Jan (Ben Gazzara and Angelica Huston) are emotionally stunted and self-involved in a garishly comic way.

The film eventually plays out as a love story, with Ricci expanding on her latest screen image as the damaged and vulnerable nymphet. Ricci steals the movie with an empty-headed sweetness. Mickey Rourke, Rossanna Arquette, and Jan Michael Vincent also show up, obviously bewitched by Gallo’s pixelated intensity. The film is full of impressive stylistic moments. Ultimately though, Buffalo 66 is a silly film. Its silliness overcomes its many virtues. It’s a close game thrown by the place kicker.

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