Buffalo 66: A Great Way to Span Time

An often underappreciated and overlooked classic, this brilliant piece of indie cinema that is grossly dismissed often as a piece of cult junk is one of many great achievements in low-budget cinema of its era. Vincent Gallo wrote, directed, composed the music for and starred in this often hilarious, slow-paced (except for the dialouge) gem which Gallo described as his masterpiece. However arrogant that may sound, it’s an opinion I’ve come to agree with, especially with the disastrous state of his follow-up film, The Brown Bunny.

Buffalo 66 is about a convict who has just been released from prison who is confused and with no place to go except the darkly welcoming bowling alley and various cluttered hotels. He kidnaps a young tap dancer and forces her to play the part of his ‘wife’ on a visit to his parents. The truth is, he has no wife, but of course, the eager-to-speak Gallo is determined to impress his doubtful and ignorant mom and dad. The plot might not sound the most original of ideas, especially when the predictable fall-in-love card is played, but there are so many other aspects of this movie that it is ignorant and dishonest to call it a piece of romantic garbage.

Gallo’s character Billy has grown up with a pathological fear and/or hatred of women, and it seems that if he ever got into a relationship, his nervous tics and easy aggression would quickly ruin it. Billy and his co-star Christina Ricci’s character Layla are the perfect odd couple. Their relationship is a strange and quirky one, and seems to prove that opposites really do attract. Layla herself is a quiet, sexually repressed young woman who quickly takes to Billy ad eventually begins to seem perfect for him.

What really makes this film tick, and the primary reason I love it so much, is the comedy, however, and all of it is due to Gallo, whose imagination is a furious, electric mix of a vast sea of repressed emotions and furious anger. He speaks fast and in a style which borders on rambling but has a strange comedic overtone which makes me laugh. His contradicting statements (“We’re a couple that doesn’t touch one another”), repetitive mantras (“Let’s span time…”) and narcicisstic reassurance (“I drive luxury cars!”) are huge components of the rich comedy that inhabits this 100-minute miracle, and no doubt they will have you either cracking a giggle or in fits of laughter, or generally somewhere in between. Of course, some people are bound to find Gallo’s sense of humour and self-righteousness annoying, pessimistic and egotistical, and they are welcome to do so, but there is a generation of film-lovers who will tremendously enjoy this little indie gem, especially those who are into cult films, indie films or the Dogme 95 genre, which of course Buffalo 66 is not a part of, but is still an influence on the film itself.

So there you have it. That’s my review. Hopefully it’s inspired you to give this movie a go, or if you’ve already seen it, maybe it’ll provoke some more thought on it. I’ve seen it twice, and still find Gallo hilarious every time. My Rating: 9/10.

Thanks for reading.

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About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on April 29, 2011, in Movie Reviews, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I haven’t seen this film in quite awhile, but I remember really liking it. Ben Gazzara and Angelica Huston as Vincent Gallo’s parents was a particularly inspired bit of casting. Definitely a quirky but otherwise entertaining film. Reminds me of an early Jim Jarmusch film. And that scene towards the end with “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes was brilliant!

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • Could not agree with you more. The usage of that Yes song was a really, perfect intelligent usage of music and really surprised me. Love the Jim Jarmusch thing; I never thought of it that way. I was in fits of laughter when Ben Gazzara accused Gallo of trying to stab him, and then when he sung that song… so quirky, and yet, so funny! Anjelica Huston’s football obsession was really funny, too.

  1. Pingback: In Defence of “The Brown Bunny” « Southern Vision: A Blog About Movies

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