Buffalo ’66 (1998)
Directed by Vincent Gallo
May 16 at 92YTribeca
Sex is comedy in actor/infamous celebrity sperm donor Vincent Gallo’s Pinter-esque directorial debut. In Buffalo ’66, having libidinal urges is like having an imaginary gangrenous third nipple: you don’t want to touch it but you have to but you don’t know how because you might not even be able to because it may or may not be all in your head.
Gallo stars as Billy Brown, an ex-con fresh out of prison who kidnaps a seriously confused and confusing girl named Layla (Christina Ricci). Billy doesn’t kidnap Layla for the express purpose of degrading her, though he does do that, too. Instead, Billy asks Layla to make his parents think that he’s actually happily married. In reality, his one hard-and-fast goal in life after prison is to murder a football player whose flubbed play is the indirect cause of Billy’s incarceration. So Billy is now so anxious to appear to care about something (about anything, really, though in this case that thing is appearing to be happily married and hence sexually normal) that he winds up freaking out over almost everything.
But as we find out once we meet Billy’s parents, including Ben Gazzara’s hilariously lecherous and dyspeptic patriarch, dysfunction is Billy’s inheritance. Everyone in the film’s representation of Buffalo is a little sexually abnormal. Goon (Kevin Corrigan), Billy’s best friend, is a dimwit with a gut and an inexplicable inability to think of how to describe a strip club (“that place where women take their clothes off…”). And Layla’s a willing submissive whose devotion to Billy verges on psychosis. Even Billy’s mom, the film’s most non-threatening supporting character, comes across as if she were in heat when she sees a successful football play on TV. It’s no wonder then that the curative power of love restores Billy’s lust for life. Love is in the air in Buffalo ’66 and it’s very funny, indeed.