“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Buffalo ’66

June 26, 1998

Look, I don’t want to brag, but in 1998 I was twenty years younger than I am now. I had the youth. The vigor. The open-mindedness and enthusiasm for things that seemed new and different. I had less of the anger toward people who get on lawns – if I had had a lawn I would’ve invited the youths to hang out on it and talk about youth stuff like did you know Lauryn Hill is doing a solo album or what is up with these Furbies or have you heard about this new WB show coming out in the fall they’re calling it “Ally McBeal in college” I don’t think I’ll watch it but it’s something I read about.

What I’m trying to do here is establish why it’s a good thing that in 1998 BUFFALO ’66 seemed like a great movie. I mean, I haven’t entirely turned my back on it. It’s still interesting. It has many positive qualities. But I definitely question it more now.

It’s easy to see what was appealing in that moment. Star/director/co-writer/composer Vincent Gallo plays Billy Brown, a just-released convict who looks like he inspired half the dudes who were in American Apparel ads (I mean, look at that striped muscle shirt). With cinematographer Lance Acord (first feature for the music video d.p.) he shoots scuzzy locations that seem like the stale refuse of the ’60s and ’70s: cracked parking lots, a bowling alley, a motel, a tiny house decorated in Buffalo Bills memorabilia. Chic, magazine ad ugly. I’m actually kind of surprised it’s not in black and white, but the muted color palette is one of its most striking features.

The supporting cast is A+ cool: Anjelica Huston (CAPTAIN EO) as his mom, Ben Gazzara (ROAD HOUSE) as his dad, Rosanna Arquette (SILVERADO) in one scene as a girl he used to know. Mickey Rourke is in one scene as a bookie, and it’s not one of his great performances, but give Gallo credit for wanting him in the movie before his career resurgence (though after DOUBLE TEAM). Jan-Michael Vincent (THE MECHANIC) has a scene as the manager of the bowling alley, and I found it pretty moving to see him as the old friend who has clearly been through the wringer. Kevin Corrigan (UNSTOPPABLE, HENRY FOOL) has a more substantial role as a weird old friend who timidly tries to finally stand up to Billy, who treats him like shit and ignores his demands to be called “Rocky” instead of “Goon.” Most of his scenes are in his underwear on a bed surrounded by guinea pig cages. He was apparently uncomfortable with the role, and asked to be uncredited. (He’s good, though.)

The music (which is by Gallo) is cool. Even the typography is cool. The end credits don’t scroll, they’re black type on white cards. The filmatism is mostly raw and simple, then he throws in a couple film student show-off experiments: flashbacks that appear in little picture-in-picture screens, a climax that uses an analog version of a pre-BLADE, pre-MATRIX (but post LOST IN SPACE) bullet time type technique. (It’s two different shots; one I think is just live action with the actor standing still with a bloodspray sculpture attached to his head. The other one I have no idea how they did it.)

I guess the big difference between 1998 Vern and 2018 Vern is my level of patience and interest for watching a charmless dirtbag whining, berating a defenselesss teen and (worst of all) feeling sorry for himself. Technically it’s about an ex-con kidnapping a young girl and then planning to assassinate an ex-NFL star. But it’s not a crime movie, it’s a character piece – TAXI DRIVER for people who don’t drive taxis. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just saying this time around I’m less sure about the importance of wallowing in the mundane existence of this specific character.

I always thought it was a funny idea that this is all kicked off by him having to piss real bad. He gets out of the joint and then has to pee and tries to get the guard to let him back in. Still funny. He goes around failing to find a public restroom until he barges into a tap dancing class, where he argues with and then abducts Layla (recent child star Christina Ricci in her third grown up movie of the summer [see FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS and THE OPPOSITE OF SEX]). He makes her drive him in her car and also come with him to his parents’ house to pretend to be his wife. She plays along, even pretends to adore him, never to his satisfaction.

The interaction with his parents is full of weirdness. Mom seems to suffer from mild dementia and severe football fever. Dad seems angry and pervy. Both smother Layla with love and praise (dad is always looking for a hug or kiss), but they can barely muster a conversation with their son.

Not that I feel that sorry for him. He bitches and complains even when there’s no reason to. He makes no attempt to improve the situation other than to lie in a transparent attempt to impress them. There are plenty of people who have shittier parents than this who still have the ability to be pleasant to be around.

One bizarre tangent involves dad claiming to be a singer. Layla gets him to perform for her – he plays a supposedly instrumental record of Sinatra songs, clears his throat, then lip syncs. Since the voice is credited as Vincent Gallo Sr. I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s supposed to really be singing, but while watching it I thought he was supposed to be pathetically trying to trick her into thinking he was, with her playing along to be nice. I suppose either way it has the desired oddness.

An aspect that I remember bothering me back then is the way they shoot the long scene of the four of them sitting at a square table. There are straight on shots from different sides, with whichever actor would be in the foreground missing. It’s not in the right place to be a POV shot and you would see their arms on the table if they were there. So pretty much every edit throughout this sequence caused me to be disoriented, thinking that one character had left the room. I remember complaining about it at the time and being told no, it’s intentional, it’s experimental, it’s a tribute to Ozu, and I do think those things are true, but it still doesn’t work for me.

Also back then, though, I somehow didn’t recognize Huston and thought she was some first time actor like maybe his real mom or something. But now I think she does some good stuff here, though there are awkward moments.

I couldn’t remember the plot at all, so I was worried they would never leave that house. Also I kept thinking it was weird that his outfit seemed kind of similar to Jesus Quintana, another ex-con-who-is-attracted-to-children character in another 1998 release that has Ben Gazzara in it. And I had completely forgotten that later he goes bowling and it’s his main (or only) hobby.

The thing I always remember from Gallo’s second film THE BROWN BUNNY that cracks me up is when he’s trying to get a bunny and he has somebody lead him to some cages of bunnies and he asks “Are these the bunnies?” This is such a true and recognizable depiction of a certain type of person who’s exhausting to be around. Yes, these bunnies are the bunnies. Stop saying every word that comes into your brain.

Billy is the same way. He’ll shout across a courtyard to some employee of some business asking where the bathroom is and then narrate his walk to the bathroom and his discovery that it’s closed and then he’ll feel the need to loop back and yell to the person that it’s closed, seeming to blame them. This is the person who always sits behind me at movies and reads signs and t-shirts out loud and describes what’s going on as it happens.

Part of what’s kind of funny but also annoying about the movie is his habit of repeating phrases over and over and over and fucking over again. He feels the need to talk and instruct and explain and criticize the nearest person to him, and this requires alot of saying the same thing multiple times as if they don’t get it when it’s actually him who doesn’t get that they’re just so disgusted with what a fucking piece of shit he is that they would rather glare at him than respond to his endless jibber jabber.

There’s a scene where he makes Layla pose with him in a photo both. He wants her to act like she’s in love with him, which she does (a rare chance for Ricci to come alive in the movie, after mostly being an empty vessel for Billy’s fantasies) while he sits emotionless, and then he keeps telling her she’s doing it wrong. He wants to pretend the photos were taken on different days, so he tells her they need to “span time” and then he keeps saying that phrase the way Seagal keeps saying “you’re a man, right?” and “cupcake” in the bar fight in ON DEADLY GROUND. Okay, we’re going to span time. Okay? Span time. Let’s span time. Spanning time, here we go.

I’m not saying SPOILER I wanted him to really die at the end, but these days it bothers me more that this guy magically gets a happy ending. I know there’s Stockholm syndrome and everything but the idea of Layla having any affection for this abusive slimeball kidnapper is creepy, and it’s treated like an exciting eureka moment when he decides he likes her and finally buys her the hot chocolate she’s been requesting for half the movie. Maybe it’s supposed to be kind of sarcastic, to treat this one small gesture as a turning point and pretend like there’s not a 150% chance he’s still gonna treat her like garbage. Doesn’t play that way to me, though.

Still, that’s my favorite scene, the last one, where Billy visits a donut shop. He’s in a good mood for the only time in the entire movie and he’s buying the hot chocolate and a cookie and trying to joke around with the old timer behind the counter and another one who’s a customer. He’s being a total goofball and trying to connect with an older generation and I imagine it’s similar to how Gallo really behaves sometimes in real life. I’ve experienced countless weirdos like this as a person with many years behind a counter, and this reminds me of the more positive and entertaining ones. Of course, you can get a laugh from a short interaction with somebody like that but not want to then spend the day with them, or a full movie, especially if they’re gonna be a dick the rest of the time.

Back then we didn’t know much about Gallo, but he had a New York art guy mystique. In the early ’80s he was in a noise band called Gray with Jean-Michel Basquiat. And he was in a rap duo called Trouble Deuce. I’ve seen him on the DVD of the legendary old school hip hop pilot Graffiti Rock, calling himself “Prince Vince.” In 1985 he and Steve Buscemi and Mark Boone Junior all debuted in the same film, a no budget black and white comedy called THE WAY IT IS. And he was briefly in GOODFELLAS and then ARIZONA DREAM and THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS and THE FUNERAL and TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M., but he definitely wasn’t known as a cinematic troll until he made THE BROWN BUNNY (which I liked) and later offered his sperm for in-vitro fertilization in the merchandise section of his websight (which I thought was funny). And since he’s playing such a loser – even his gun is tiny and pathetic and not cool – I didn’t think of this as that much of a vanity project. He has to have some understanding that this Billy character is terrible and that we’re laughing at him.

But even back then, and moreso now, it’s hard to explain away the scene where he finally does get to pee, and then a guy at the urinal next to him stares at his dick in awe. Billy unleashes homophobic slurs on the guy and he still has to say “But it’s so big!” I mean, I don’t think there’s a possible explanation for putting that in other than the obvious, ridiculous one that he wanted to declare to the world that he had a glorious dick. It’s a very personal story, you see.

Gallo goes out of his way to show Billy having no sexual interest in Layla. You know how it is, ladies throwing themselves at you constantly and you’re like come on, leave me alone. She tries to talk to him, hug him, lay on a bed with him, kiss him, but he keeps rejecting her. When she talks him into letting her get in the bath tub with him not only does no sexual activity seem to take place, but he puts on his undershirt. Such a gentleman kidnapper. He finally does give her a small kiss near the end of the movie, but only after curling up in a fetal position next to her. In another scene he goes into a restroom and cries and mutters “I don’t want to live” to himself. You know, I get this weird feeling we’re supposed to feel sorry for the motherfucker.

Sometimes I do like movies that show the humanity of assholes. It can be less a glorification of shittiness and more an act of unconditional empathy. Reading up on the movie I’ve seen reports of Gallo being mean to people on set but only because he’s playing a mean character. Ricci – who was 17 and making her first low budget movie and (at Gallo’s insistence) her first movie without her mother on set, – says in a Conan O’Brien interview from the time that he yelled at and insulted her but really “he’s a sweetheart.” Courtney Cox said in 2007 that he destroyed their friendship for years by being mean to her while filming GET WELL SOON, but that it turns out he was just being Method and he was great to her on an episode of Dirt.

He seems to be pretty Method in interviews too. Among his IMDb personal quotes you can find him saying that Steven Soderbergh and Wes Anderson “suck,” calling Sofia Coppola “a parasite,” Francis Ford Coppola a “fat pig,” Martin Scorsese “an egomaniac has-been,” Spike Jonze “the biggest fraud out there,” and George W. Bush “a good president.” To the New York Post he called Ricci “an ungrateful c—” and “basically a puppet” and claimed that she was an alcoholic or on cough syrup and that she lost 17 pounds during filming because he “only let her eat one whole pizza pie every day.” In other interviews he disparages Acord as someone who takes credit for the movie but just did what he was told. Complaining about Huston in an interview with Walter Chaw, Gallo said, “And at some point I told her some things like, ‘Listen, baby. We got your name, that’s all I needed, I got my money. I’ll put your wig on a fat truck driver and shoot him from the back.’ And that’s when we had a falling out.”

His bio on IMDb claims that “Misinterpretation of this work is common and Gallo is often incorrectly categorized as a racist, sexist, homophobe” and that “Gallo is one of the most misunderstood, misquoted, misrepresented talents in the past 25 years.”

(I wonder who it was that was so much more misquoted 26 years ago?)

And wouldn’t you fuckin know it, right on cue Gallo says he likes Trump in a long magazine essay where he also claims “I am not a provocateur” and in the next paragraph “I do not believe in equality.” He immediately repeats that phrase, because the essay includes a bit of Billy Brown style pushy repetition.

Sometimes I feel like the white people who were involved in the early hip hop scene don’t get enough credit, but then I read about somebody like this who has the audacity to come from that background and still give a high-five to racism. You think Trump would’ve see any difference between the Central Park Five he wanted executed even after they were proven innocent, and your old friends Basquiat or the New York City Breakers? He’s the fucking bad guy, and now you are too, Prince Vince.

In his reoccurring fights with critics, one of Gallo’s themes is that it shouldn’t get personal, the criticism has to be removed from the person. And sure, sometimes that is possible. But he knows film is profoundly personal – that little house is the one he grew up in, for christ’s sake. When the artist’s personality comes through in the movie that’s part of the movie. Of course there are plenty of great movies by assholes, but this is one where the movie itself is an asshole.

And really, would he have to say that if he was nice to everybody? Why don’t you go start a charity for artists who are misunderstood and misinterpreted just because they spend decades degrading and insulting everybody they work with or come across. The Foundation for Consequence-Free Assholery.

I guess technically BUFFALO ’66 was even smaller than MR. JEALOUSY and HENRY FOOL. It opened on 2 screens and expanded to 25 in its second week. But it got much more word-of-mouth attention and had a cult following, probly still does. Rolling Stone placed it at #98 (above CLERKS) on a list of “The 100 Greatest Movies of the Nineties.” In 2012 Mike D’Angelo still considered it “one of the most stunning debuts of all time.”

Roger Ebert would famously pan BROWN BUNNY at Cannes, become Gallo’s nemesis, then make up with him and the movie, only to be trashed by him again after death. But Ebert wrote a very positive review of BUFFALO ’66 that compared it to “improvisational jazz,” called Ricci’s performance “astonishing” and ended by saying “There’s not a thing conventional about this movie.”

It seems to have gotten very positive reviews, but that didn’t stop Gallo from being childishly combative with critics. Here he is on a weird show where the host insults three critics, then tricks them into discussing the movie without knowing that Gallo is there listening. It seems like a failed experiment when all three of them say mostly positive things, but then Gallo comes out and is still an abrasive dick, acting like he just busted them on To Catch a Predator or something.

He also brings up Ricci’s still-in-theaters movie THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, calls it “a TV movie” and claims people only say they like it because it has gay characters.

BUFFALO ’66 would later be nominated for Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards and lose to THE OPPOSITE OF SEX.

Despite Gallo’s disparagement, Acord went on to great work with Spike Jonze (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE) and Sofia Coppola (LOST IN TRANSLATION, MARIE ANTOINETTE). Co-writer Allison Bagnall – who Gallo says converted his improvised pitch into a script because he didn’t know how to spell – became writer/director of PIGGIE (2003), THE DISH & THE SPOON (2011) and FUNNY BUNNY (2015).

Though rarely in the spotlight anymore, Gallo has continued to do his thing in his various disciplines. As a musician, he released albums in 2001 and 2002. As an artist, he sells undershirts that he wrote his name on with Sharpie. As a director he has done some shorts, plus THE BROWN BUNNY (2003) and an unreleased feature called PROMISES WRITTEN ON WATER (2010). As an actor he received acclaim for TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001), TETRO (2009) and ESSENTIAL KILLING (2010). A friend of Rick Rubin, he also appears in Jay-Z’s classic “99 Problems” video. But this cool looking movie where he has to pee and is mad at everybody might be what he’s remembered for most.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 at 11:44 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

31 Responses to “Buffalo ’66”

  1. Great review, Vern. I loved this film years ago (especially Gallo’s filmatism), but I’m curious to watch it now.

  2. The second time I saw this (back when the Neptune was still a movie theater) 2 guys stood up and shouted in unison “this is shit!” and stormed out. That was roughly 10 minutes into the movie.

  3. Never got around to seeing this one and then the revelation that Gallo is a horribly toxic individual came out in the open and I continued to ignore his work. Your review does not make this seem like one that I would want to spend with still.

    -nb4 Griff!! Thought not associated with the production, the filmmakers behind COWBOY BEBOP: KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR designed the villain to look and act like Gallo (the movie’s character is an anti-government terrorist with a ‘coo’ art house vibe and a sensitive side but in reality is just a full-of-himself piece-of-shit).

  4. I wonder if Gallo reset the fat pig reference to his infinite superior Coppola when making Tetro.

  5. grimgrinningchris

    July 17th, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    I actually saw this in its very limited release (I was living in NOLA at the time so was able to see a lot of limited shit that I could never hope to catch in theaters now that I’m not). Saw it for Ricci and Huston. Left it hating Gallo.

    Don’t forget his unpleasant turn as the standin for the Hansel & Gretyl witch in Freeway 2… a movie that was was already unpleasant before he showed up in drag.

  6. grimgrinningchris

    July 17th, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    And shit, Vern… yeah, you need to review both of the Freeway movies. They are… interesting.

  7. I used to be a magazine editor, and I can’t remember what provoked it (we probably made fun of THE BROWN BUNNY or something), but I got a 15-minute angry voicemail from this guy in about 2003 or 2004. I wish I’d saved it, but I don’t even think I played it for my co-workers; nobody else in the office would have given a shit.

  8. I’ve never even heard of this movie, but now I kind of want to punch Vincent Gallo.

    Vern’s reviews, man…they bring out the emotions!

  9. I remember that before this movie dropped in Germany, some yellow press celebrity TV magazine introduced Gallo as “the new, hot Hollywoodstar” or something like that, which was pretty unusual. Just recently I wondered what happened to him and it seems like it was himself.

  10. Yeah, those Freeway movies were a trip. First one was actually really surprisingly good and original (probably a lot of credit to Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon), the second one was just rubbing the audiences’ face in the dirt. I read somewhere Matthew Bright had wanted to make a third Freeway movie that was supposed to be about the three little pigs (much like how red riding hood and Hansel and Gretel were the inspiration for the first two) but I guess he never found the funding for to get that off the ground.

    (Back to Vince Gallo, SPOILER he of course does end up showing off his pride and joys in Freeway 2 as well.)

    I would also be interested to see a review of the Ted Bundy biopic that Matthew Bright filmed.

  11. Man, you are so right about those exhausting people. And I know a lot of people think I’m weird for being quiet a good deal of the time. I’m like, “Dude, i’ll Tell you when I’ve decided something but I don’t need to share the whole process.”

    I was in a roundtable with Gallo for Brown Bunny. I remember my colleague said he knew how he’d start his article. “‘I am not a narcissist,’ Gallo said as he proceeded to talk for 35 minutes.”

    I always got Gallo confused with vincent Spano.

  12. grimgrinningchris

    July 18th, 2018 at 5:27 am

    I dug Freeway when I first saw it, but after seeing Freeway 2, my second viewing of it was rather different. Kind of like how you see things totally differently in his movies after you find out Victor Salva is a kiddie diddler.

    Freeway 2 may give Noe and Von Trier (and fucking Gallo for that matter) a run for their money in just total contempt for the audience.

    A friend saw Freeway 2 at a screening that Bright spoke at and said he came off as a sweaty, coked up twittering little creepy pervert that insulted anyone that asked anything even vaguely critical or confused about his intentions with the movie.

  13. grimgrinningchris

    July 18th, 2018 at 5:29 am

    Am I the only person in the world that is up at 7am, talking online about Vincent Gallo and Freeway movies while listening to the soundtrack from The Enchanted Tiki Room?

    Probably.

  14. I would rather watch an endless stream of uninspired movies than give one second of my time to an “artist” like Gallo.

  15. I have never seen a Vince Gallo movie, but just about everything I have heard about them makes me uninterested. And after skimming that stream of narcissistic consciousness magazine piece of his I kind of want to punch him in the face. He sounds like exactly the kind of self-centered prick who would vote for Trump and revel in his obnoxiousness. Even without that in there, the guy sounds like a serial abuser. Somebody who would meet up for drinks one night, be charming and fun for a few hours, stiff you when it is time to pay the tab, and badmouth you to everybody for months or years afterwards.

  16. I really liked FREEWAY as a teen (and its sequel) – or at least I thought I did. I remember Siskel and Ebert praising it, but qualifying that it’s “too cute” and I wasn’t sure what they meant. I watched it again a few years back, and yeah, it’s a bit too cute. There’s a really out there Danny Elfman score for that movie that I still play sometimes.

  17. I saw Freeway but never the sequel. Sounds even crazier.

  18. This exploration of the Indie class of ’98 really makes one realize how dramatically the “indie” culture has shifted in the last 20 years. The 90s were, in some ways, a much more Libertarian sort of leftist culture than they appeared at the time, and you see it in movies like this one or HENRY FOOL or MR. JEALOUSY. Works from ambitious artists about broken white men which showcase their flaws, but are ultimately empathetic towards them and maybe even a little more charmed by their nonsense than is really earned. I think it reflected the angsty, post-grunge vibe of the day, where everybody felt oppressed by a repressive society which valued conformity and materialism over freedom to live a messier, more personal life.

    Of course, in the next 20 years, it became clear that “everybody felt oppressed” actually meant “white men felt oppressed.” It didn’t seem selfish at the time; white guys making these films considered their fight for greater personal liberty to be the same fight women and minorities and homosexuals were going through, saw those movements as analogous. But of course, they weren’t at all. The thinking was, we all just need to have more space to do our own thing, and be less judgmental. Unfortunately, while that sounded good, it didn’t do a lot to help groups who were genuinely oppressed, because “just leave them alone and let them do their thing” wasn’t and isn’t really a solution to systemic racism and sexism.* To fix those things, you have to actually care enough to NOT just leave them alone, but instead to proactively work for their betterment. It’s a much more collectivist mindset than the prickly individualism which was so important to those 90s indie artists, and it retrospectively makes a lot of their work look very self-serving and egotistic (or, possibly, it retrospectively reveals their work as very self-serving and egotistic).

    As a absolute Platonic ideal of one of those 90’s Indie guys (or at least someone who came of age during that time and saw them as heroes) I still have a certain affection for this work and mindset, and would probably still like BUFFALO 66 just for its dreamy, pugnacious style if nothing else. But nowadays there’s no escaping how inward-facing that era was. There’s still a place for that, I suppose, but there’s also no way to avoid that it’s fundamentally selfish in a way which doesn’t scan so well in a world with so much injustice.

    (here’s a link to a reddit thread [on r/TrueFilm] which got me thinking about this topic)

    r/TrueFilm - Postmodern films of the 90s vs. Today's "Woke" Culture

    313 votes and 118 comments so far on Reddit

    *Interestingly, it WAS mostly the solution to homophobia, which you’ll notice made huge strides during that era while anti-sexist and anti-racist causes moved much more slowly. That was a problem which COULD be solved by people just minding their own business, but it seems to have been unique in that department.

  19. grimgrinningchris

    July 18th, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Fred-

    To say the very VERY least.
    Think of a backwards (chronologically) version of the difference between House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects…

  20. Thank you for that insightful post, Mr. Subtlety.

  21. I remember missing this in the theaters (one of the few indies that summer I missed) but not really wanting to see it after reading Premiere articles about it and thinking Gallo was a dick. (Although I was intrigued at the “radical new way to shoot a dinner scene”)

    I’d catch it a year later on cinemax at 2am when I was sick, and it felt like a fever dream. I don’t recall liking much beyond the look of the film. Curious to see it again, but maybe not so much.

    The trailer for this was great though. And I know it was cut by Gallo himself because he doesn’t stop talking about everything he did for the movie.

  22. Vern — thank you for the series! I always enjoy your summer retrospectives, but the focus on small-scale big-impact indies this year has been especially interesting. To me, 1998 still seems like not all that long ago; I remember it so clearly, I distinctly remember seeing all these movies around that time and being excited by them. 20 years later, I’m amazed at how much the context of the world has shifted my values, so that things which seemed apocalyptic at the time (LOST IN SPACE) now seem pretty benign, while things which seemed really progressive and inspiring (HENRY FOOL, BUFFALO 66) now feel much less so. That X-FILES review you posted is an especially good look at that. Sometimes I wonder we progressives are victims of our own success in the 90’s. We got a lot of the things we wanted, but maybe we weren’t asking for the right things; in fact, it seems like a lot of the things we deemed so important at the time –absolute freedom of speech, the anonymity of the internet, skepticism of religion, government, media– ended up adopted by the absolute worst of the modern regressive right-wing. I really believed in that stuff at the time, really thought we’d found the answer — not just as tools, but as a basic philosophy. And I really believed in guys like Gallo or Kurt Cobain or, for that matter, Biggie or Tupac; guys who, like Henry Fool or Buffalo Billy Brown, had serious, obvious problems (with women, with drugs, with violence, with self-destructiveness) but who pushed the boundaries, questioned assumptions, chased something new and better. Not only does it seem like that era has passed, but today it mostly seems like those guys did more harm than good, overall. Even their art hasn’t changed the world for the better — Nirvana’s immediate musical legacy is a lot of the absolute worst pop music ever, Biggie and Pac inspired way more dumbed-down misogynist gangsta bullshit than revolutionary art, and 1998’s graduating class of directors fizzled out and went nowhere.

    It all seemed so obviously right at the time, but I guess nothing is ever as clear as it seems.

  23. “Someday I may be thin, but you will always be the director of THE BROWN BUNNY” is one of Ebert’s greatest lines ever.

    By the by, some of Walter Chaw’s interviews are quite amazing. I don’t want to post the link because the Visual Parse function turns it into a monstrosity, but do google “filmfreakcentral mark hamill” for the goods.

  24. grimgrinningchris

    July 19th, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    It was a great line (albeit one paraphrased from a famous Churchill jab) but I have to admit that it kept coming back to me whenever Ebert did start getting thin from being sick.

  25. Mr. S: Like with your LAST JEDI post, thank you so much for your post(s) here.

  26. It legit means so much when you just let it all out like that.

  27. thanks geoffreyjar. Who would have thought the summer that gave us LOST IN SPACE and QUEST FOR CAMELOT would bring out so much soul-searching?

  28. Well ‘98 was the year that asked the philosophical question, ‘When is a Godzilla movie not a Godzilla movie?’

  29. Geoffreyjar — that, sir, is an A+ point.

  30. He also offers some nude photos that he took of Gaspar Noe in his webstore. That´s kinda funny i think.
    It seems that both of them had a great time in that hotel room.

  31. I didn’t see BUFFALO 66 in theaters but recall the buzz and rented it with friends either not long after it hit video. I found it ponderous and indulgent at a level I’d never experienced before and felt the big violent moment was too little, too late. I could never bring myself to give this guy even a little bit of slack, though a lot of my friends thought this movie was killer. I haven’t revisited it since but from your review I would probably hate it even more. Love this series, looking forward to Summer 99!

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