MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.
Buffalo ’66 (1998, 110 minutes)
The consequences of Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood missing a game-winning field goal in 1991′s Super Bowl XXV are still trickling down when Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo) is let out of prison, five years later. Billy bet 10 grand on the game, couldn’t pay the bookie and had to take the rap for someone else to make it good.
Hours after his release, Billy’s in severe discomfort outside the walls, and not just from the bone-chilling cold. He knocks on the prison door and asks, “Can I use the bathroom?” “I can’t let you back in here. This is the discharge gate,” says the guard. Billy takes the last bus into town.
The restrooms at the bus depot are out of order, and they won’t let him use the facilities at Caffe Lococo. In desperation, Billy finds a lavatory at a dance academy, then can’t pee when the guy at the urinal next to him compliments his manhood. “Fucking faggot!” Billy screams at the intruder. Out in the hall, he asks, “Hey, miss, can I borrow a quarter!” from a girl about to leave the dance session. “Hello, Ma!” he shouts into the pay phone. “It’s me, Billy. Billy! Turn the TV down, Ma. We’re in town for one day, staying at the big hotel downtown. No, don’t come down here! I want to see the old neighborhood!” he roars.
Without warning, Billy puts his hand over the mouth of the girl who gave him the quarter (Christina Ricci) and walks her through the oblivious dancing class into the parking lot. Changing her name from Layla to Wendy, he explains she must pretend to be his wife for a day at his parents’ house. He’s explained his long absence by telling them he works for the CIA. “Make a fool out of me and I’ll kill you right there, in front of Mommy and Daddy. If you do good, you can be the best friend I’ve ever had.”
They park in front of a drab bungalow with a huge “GO BUFFALO!” banner draped across the front. Billy’s mom (Anjelica Houston) can be heard from the sidewalk, screaming at the Bills game on TV. Billy’s dad (Ben Gazzara) was once a Sinatra-style pop crooner. Trying to stay in character and already showing signs of falling for her kidnapper (a la “the Stockholm syndrome”), the girl asks to see baby pictures of Billy.
Dad produces a snapshot of Billy with his puppy Bingo, which brings back a flood of toxic memories for Billy. He recalls his Dad screaming at him: “Billy, didn’t I tell you 50 fuckin’ times what would happen to this dog if he peed in the house again!!” And then Ma brings in the one-pot dinner: a large bowl of tripe, prepared especially for Wendy—a devout vegetarian.