I haven’t done a Let’s Get Translatin’ post in a while, so I thought I’d bring it back. For those new to the series, what I do is take a bunch of well-known movie quotes, lines or monologues and I spin them through a complex set of translations and then back to English again, with […]
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Continuing the 25 Things I Love About… series is a list of things that I love about Vincent Gallo’s charming little indie comedy Buffalo ’66. 1: I’m used to luxury cars. Have you ever heard of a luxury car? You know what luxury means, you ever heard of Cadillac? Cadillac El Dorado? That’s what I […]
Independent cinema is a thriving new cinematic genre, and has produced some outstandingly funny and very clever films. Not all indie movies are comedies, certainly not, but a hefty percentage are. Here are ten great independent comedies–not necessarily the ten best, but just ten great ones, in no particular order.
“This job would be great if it weren’t for the fucking customers.” It’s impossible for anyone aged 15-45 to not absolutely love this Kevin Smith comedy. As well as bringing down the house with its decidedly unsubtle humour and observations about workplace scenarios and real life drama, it also manages to be an inspiration for budding filmmakers, shot for less than 30 grand with B&W cameras and a tiny cast of unknowns. Well… why not?
Thomas Haden Church, decidedly reminiscent of an entire subculture of American men (no offense intended) and Paul Giamatti, an also dryly stereotypical but impossibly original variation of the schmuck-with-a-book tactic (again, not trying to offend!), make a perfect odd-couple in this honest comedy about a pre-marital weekend-long bachelor party consisting of various wine tastings, gratuitous nudity, and not to mention the sacred bonds of the un-buddy-breakable male friendships that decorate so many films of this cult flavour kind. Read my review here.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
In much the same vein as Sideways, this far funnier and hugely honest movie about the imperfections of family is almost perfect in a way. The comedy is fresh, original and extremely well-acted by a great cast including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Paul “I am a false prophet, God is a superstition” Dano, Abigail Breslin, and a far from Glengarry Glen Ross Alan Arkin. You really can’t go wrong.
Garden State (2004)
I only saw this very recently, and it was the film that really got me thinking about doing this list. Zach Braff is surprisingly fresh and different from Scrubs, and Natalie Portman is wonderful in her supporting performance, perfectly placed halfway between Mathilda and Nina Sayers. While the ending is decidedly tacky and annoyingly brief, the rest of the film is smart and well-played, at a pace which makes the awkward humour funnier by miles that what it might normally be.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
It was either this or Rushmore from Wes Anderson, and… well, sorry, Rushmore, it’s just plain impossible for you to beat The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson weaves an honest, magical tale and gives all of his actors something decent to do, as well as paying a glorious homage to great comedic stereotypes. I have a rather foggy memory of this, and I need to rewatch it, but I remember enough to say this is a classic indie comedy, more than worthy of a place on this list.
Eagle vs. Shark (2006)
No, I’m not just picking this movie because it’s a product of the rapidly growing film industry of my home country, New Zealand. It is actually a very witty, quite funny comedy about quirky relationships. It stars Jemaine Clement, whom “you Americans” might recognize from Flight of the Conchords, possibly the most successful byproduct of the Kiwi entertainment industry. It’s certainly not the best film on this list, but a kitsch excersize in low-budget fun nonetheless. Enjoy!
High Fidelity (2000)
John Cusack stars as a record-store owner with a deep passion for music that perhaps exceeds my love for movies. Nick Hornby’s novels are often a delight, and this adaptation is superb, with a cast including a memorable Jack Black. Suspiciously Clerks-like, this tale of friends and relationships is funny and true to the heart, something Hornby has a true gift for.
(500) Days of Summer (2008)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are two talented actors who manage to carry this otherwise normal romantic comedy to new heights and rise it from a possible daunting rubble. The humour is timed well, and the characters are likeable, setting this rom-com apart from the rest of the clutter and crowd.
Decide for yourself whether you love or hate this witty and cleverly scripted indie comedy starring the always entertaining and offbeat Ellen Page and scripted by ex-stripper Diablo Cody, which has caused quite a rift in indie movie tastes between me and friends – I seem to be the only one who likes it. And I stand by that statement.
Buffalo ’66 (1998)
Definitely beyond a shadow of a doubt my absolute favourite indie comedy of all time, Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66 is a film that is rarely mentioned when talking about such a genre. It is a true classic, with ingenious and subtle humour scripted excellently by Gallo, and direction from the man himself that shows true talent, as well as contributions to the music department and of course, the brilliant starring performance that ties the whole film together. Gallo is a very talented actor, and this film is, as he himself has said, his masterpiece, and a masterpiece of independent cinema.
Now it’s time for your opinion! Leave a comment with what you thought of my choices and list some of your own.
Thanks for reading.
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.