Buffalo '66 Reviews
Buffalo '66 is so bleak in its style that it carries the feeling of a film from the counterculture era, along the lines of Easy Rider (1969) and Five Easy Pieces (197_). The story unfolds with the protagonist being released from prison though his actions are unclear, and he lays on a bench in the freezing snow. Having to seek out a bathroom, he searches through the local area simply in search of a place to empty his bladder only to find nothing and nobody to help him. After this all happens, the story centralizes on the main character as he attempts to battle his inner demons. Clearly a very self-indulgent project, Vincent Gallo puts all the focus on his own character. While Buffalo '66 may seem too self-indulgent and generally strange for many viewers, I found much of the film to be pure brilliance.
Recapturing the unpredictable glory of counterculture cinema, Buffalo '66 adheres to a most unconventional style of narrative. Neglecting the need for much of a story, there is nothing in the way of Hollywood conventions to make anything about Buffalo '66 predictable. The characters change their emotions in sudden jolts of drama which goes from simple conversation one moment to intense melodrama the next, and it gives a surreal edge to the film without blurring the genuine nature of the story. The dramatic twists are unforeseeable because the characters are blunt with a realistic edge, bereft of sentimentality whatsoever. Vincent Gallo's aims to capture the depression surrounding his protagonist and the pointless nature of existence in general proves to offer great dramatic virtue. Vincent Gallo's style also neglects the need for much editing as there are many shots which last for extensive periods of time with all the natural movements and focus pulls happening organically. This gives a sense of clear realism to the film and challenges the actors to deliver the full extent of their talents over long shots without editing to assist them. The cinematography also makes use of many overhead tracking shots provide a perspective into just how empty the large world is. Lance Accord's work on the cinematography is that of pure visual brilliance. And the colour scheme in Buffalo '66 is rather faded, causing all the colours in the visual field to essentially merge into a singular monochromatic. To top this all off, flashbacks actually appear over the screen and slowly zoom up on viewers which cuts right into the events actually in play, proudly destroying the illusion of narrative by cutting into the middle of conversation. Buffalo '66 offers much as an exercise in style, playing out against a backdrop of consistently bleak silence.
For Buffalo '66 to bring back the era that sparked a new wave of Hollywood filmmaking with a low-budget production is truly a remarkable thing, and he carries the exact same feeling of nihilism and instability that sparked the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll era in the first place. He does it without making Buffalo '66 a pretentious mimicry or even a homage but rather a solid spectacle definitive of an era despite its production being from a different decade. However, Vincent Gallo also captures the lesser elements of such a style. Due to its low budget, Buffalo '66 can only cover so much ground, and the profound style in which it achieves that can prove perhaps a little too psychotic or self-indulgent for those unfamiliar with the value of its distinctive nature. As a result, Buffalo '66 does not follow a path many viewers will be accustomed to and therefore may isolate audiences. The slow pace of the film is an obvious factor in this while the effort to extend the screenplay's limited quantity of plot points to feature length can drag things on for a bit long. But despite all this, the level of style and acting produced on such a small budget is powerful.
Billy Brown is a really unpredictable character. Seeming human at first, Vincent Gallo is able to instantaneously turn the role around and churn out his psychotic nature in all kinds of directions, ranging from momentary flashes of gentle vulnerability to bursts of pure aggression. Said to have been a dominating director, Vincent Gallo's natural attitude leaks over into his characterization of Billy Brown. Injecting his actual psychotic obsessions into the character, Vincent Gallo puts his own reality into Billy Brown and centres the entire film around him without apology, delivering a rich effort to live up to his self-obsession. His eyes have a distinct stare to them during every scene, eyes that have stared blankly into a pit of sadness and despair for too long to ever escape. They are a lifeless perspective into his soul, yet they are contrasted by his intense physicality and shaky muscle movements. Vincent Gallo becomes the living embodiment of Billy Brown inside and out, and he ties the heart of the film together with a performance of pure brilliance that he projects onto every surrounding cast member as a means of establishing a powerful chemistry, with none of them benefitting more than Christina Ricci.
Christina Ricci carries a sense of young innocence in her role, illuminated by her passion for tap dance and her fondness for Hot Chocolate over a coffee, Christina Ricci carries the dreams and desires of the young girl she really is. Yet though we are given no insight into her character, the intrigue of ___'s romantic interest with Billy Brown slowly develops into a gentle and touching sentiment to the story which contrasts the angry interactions that he combats everyone else with. Despite their on-set tension, Christina Ricci maintains a constant enchantment with Vincent Gallo and projects it in a simplistic and likable fashion. Christina Ricci's charms are undeniable in Buffalo '66.
Anjelica Huston portrays a powerful depiction of an emotionally distant mother. Lost in her own world where she whitewashes everything into pretending life is perfect and deluded as to the truth, Anjelica Huston's gleefully unpredictable nature is simple yet psychotic and a powerful reminder of her acting talents in a supporting role. Ben Gazzara also carries a very blunt nature which allows for intense interactions with Vincent Gallo.
Lastly, Mickey Rourke delivers his monologue with pure sophistication and an heavily implied edge within though he never directly states it. Through the confidence in his voice articulation he poses a genuine threat without ever explicitly stating it.
Buffalo '66 has a style which is clearly too profound for some, but its powerful ambition to capture the glory of counterculture cinema with an atmosphere of pure nihilism and a grim visual style pays a lot of credit to the directorial skill of Vincent Gallo which he enhances even further with a powerful leading performance.