Buffalo '66

Buffalo '66 ★★★★

I want to call it a very easy endeavor that boils down the roots of self-actualization via a mostly naive and toxic perspective on bond and female submission, but you know? If there’s a reason I’m probably not going to resume this as simpleminded pity is because that would reassure Gallo's worldview. I don’t want that.

Instead, while it would be easy to conceptualize Billy's series of misfortunes as close to the baring of a Bad childhood, I'm gonna go for the bat here that there’s more than that. Like the fact that he’s victim of the US prison system. This is something that I barely see discuss. Like, girls, he exits prison at the beginning of the film and it wants us to understand that by fragmenting years of routine and privatization of liberty through the way it literally overtakes his solitude after exiting the place. These fragments not only serve to understand where part of that distance and erratic behavior comes from, but also associate posterior flashbacks as another way these events have being adapted into his memories.
Again, all in the form, when there’s a moment to underwrite the action at hand, the movie stops to enter Billy’s mindset in regard to that event, and the way this are framed are not that different of Billy stopping playing chess out of frustration or looking at a light on the street from his cell as presented in those first minutes.
It imposes over the narrative to a degree that makes me less worry about the romanticism or any connection to an objective reality, because operates in such subjective view point that it materializes in the film as well. One can point out the meeting with the parents as something close to a satirical and explosive interpretation of The nuclear American family, all with a musical number as a interlocutor for the character’s emotional liberation and expression of his failed dreams. But there’s also the climax where it transforms a strip club into an dreamlike environment. There’s no sense of grounding the people or the components that compose it and here it even fools us into believing the events taking place by doing the opposite of what those memories have being doing until that moment: at the center, always coming out to to overtake the present, now as a continuous sequence that stops the moment is compressed back to the present.

And then there’s Layla. She is as much a character as Rocky is important to the development of the story. Only serves as a bridge for the protagonist’s journey from fuck up to a self made person. She’s a symbol, one of many that narratives like this only care in regard of how depending they are of everyone around her and to astound at her innocence. Everyone here have the right to criticize the narrative for being such a bland pathetic excuse for basically seeing a woman being abused in many ways that it couldn’t bother subsequent examination. Which is strange that, despite her treatment within the narrative, most of what boils down to Billy is surprisingly not that different. Of course, there are priorities of one over the other, but I understand why so many people call this a Black comedy. Others like to say is empathetic or daring, but no, it can be very mean spirited, goofy and sometimes perplexing by the extend it doesn’t give a rest to its protagonist that it might as well be a gag. Hell, there’s a recurring motif in regard to the character’s impotence and the bathroom as a constant punchline, and the moment Layla comes up with such a absurd backstory for her and Billy it invites an engagement, not only through misery, but also through shared disgust and bewilderment of these situations. If anything, watching this again makes the parts of the characters doing a performance less understated. They are just pretending until someone gives up and realize they have fuck up so bad they might as well stop before the dead start laughing at them.
Or just look at Billy’s father. He’s more of a character than Layla and that’s because he’s an exact replica of Billy. In performance, in the way DP Lance Acord frames him, in implications in regard to his failure as a musician and his failure as a father. We are looking at barebones version of the people on screen. Sometimes in caricature form, other times just so privatized of a glance of humanity they hide themselves around the traits they are being given by the film.

Buffalo 66 is still an anomaly to me. It screams everything that I despise about its creator in full force, but I never find myself in the same sort of barrier that, for example, Spike Jonze's Her puts me, because, well, most of its romanticism is constantly disrupted through the overbearing awkwardness of its bleak world and characters, finding condescension through the misleading final minutes as a counterpoint, but even that doesn’t reject the rest or feel entirely contradictory in its propositions. The film, like Lee says, makes us see something of Billy inside all of us. It portrays one day as the entire life of a person, no matter how broken or poisonous the exteriors are.

It’s without a doubt a jerkoff show from director, writer, producer, composer, actor and certified cunt Vincent Gallo.
I also find it really good.

Josephine (Girasol) liked these reviews