Buffalo '66

Buffalo '66 ★★★★½

“She knows just what to say to make a sunny day.”

Two things can be true at the same time. When you think of Vincent Gallo, you may not think of a man of humility; and you’d be right. The guy is a piece of garbage. But he’s also—in spite of his every successful attempt to prove otherwise to the world—a reluctant humanist, and he proves it with Buffalo ‘66. Now, I haven’t seen any of his other pictures and while I am a fan of a handful of his songs that I’ve heard, he isn’t my favorite musician in the world. As I said before, the guy tries so hard to be an edgy, standoffish asshole when this film proves that he has more than an ounce of decency deep down within him. You don’t write, direct and star in something that is so beautiful, heartfelt and humble as this if you are just a douchebag. Don’t get me wrong, he most certainly is a douchebag. What is perhaps the most irritating thing though, about Gallo, is that he knows right from wrong and he knows beauty from ugliness, he has just chosen not to be the former, instead plunging himself into the latter, especially in recent years.

There are a plethora of scenes in this thing that are quite simply perfect. Gazzara lip syncing to “Fools Rush In” is one. Billy’s murderous vision set to Yes’ magnificent prog rock masterpiece “Heart of the Sunrise” is another. The real star of the show—and the one who elevates every scene she appears in to breathtaking levels of perfection—is none other than Christina Ricci (The “Moonchild” tap dance in the bowling alley is one of my favorite moments in cinema history). Her angelic performance is one for the ages, with her hypnotizing presence, sparkly blue eyeshadow and glittery silver tap shoes. If it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure how well this film would have worked. It is kinda incelcore, but there are moments of unorthodox sentiment underneath Gallo’s blatant self-indulgences. Somehow, someway, he just makes it work; pulling together a supporting cast worthy of applause and shaping this uniquely serene story out of tropes that I usually can’t stand.

Every time I watch this movie I am filled with this profound sense of fulfillment, joy and a love for life I rarely come across. Only in the most affecting works do I experience these feelings. Buffalo ‘66 is one of them. Though I may loathe Gallo, I have this film to remind me that even the most smugly insufferable human beings have a modicum good inside of them, and that is a reassuring notion, I think.

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