Monday, February 24, 2014

Red Shoes

Had a great time watching Vincent Gallo's film BUFFALO '66 last night with Bill and Katie and Megan. Somehow I had never seen it before, and right away I started seeing Jerry Lewis connections (I always do, but this time they were really there). I saw so many Jerry Lewis connections that I'm afraid I forgot half of them on the walk home. Conscious, direct connections? I don't know. Gallo and Lewis were in a movie together, and there was that one time that a New York Times interviewer lumped them into the same general category ("kindred maestros of self-loathing and self-absorption," he appreciatively remarked), but that doesn't prove anything, though in his early scenes with Christina Ricci, Gallo certainly nailed the rhythm, high pitch and tone of Lewisian speech patterns, veering occasionally into the darker, intense and demanding bark of Buddy Love, or angry Jerry in THE KING OF COMEDY (another fantasy about kidnapping). And Megan found this photo of the two on a "web" site that quotes Gallo on how much he dislikes Jerry Lewis (though I don't know, they look like they're having a blast!). So maybe it's just the coincidental shared temperament of a certain kind of filmmaker. (And I'm not even considering David Lynch's debt to Lewis, or the famous affection of some French New Wave directors for his films, though there could be some trickle-down going on, as Lynch and the French New Wave are openly drawn on in Gallo's directorial style.) "A child's fantasy," Megan called BUFFALO '66 last night (not in a judgmental or critical way). Like Lewis in THE PATSY and THE LADIES MAN (just for example), Gallo seems fixated (in this film) on romantic rejection in boyhood as the dominant factor in shaping a man's stunted personality (along with, as in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, monsters for parents, of course). (And now I am recalling what Elvis Mitchell once described to me as Jerry's "fear of sex" - a big factor in BUFFALO '66 - as a hallmark of his [and Lynch's] style.) The emotional climax of BUFFALO '66, like that of THE LADIES MAN and THE PATSY and other Jerry movies, showcases a teary cipher of an ingenue reassuring us (and him) about all the hero's finest qualities, including some that have not been apparent. There's a wide sentimental streak in both filmmakers, one tied to self-regard. These are controlling men (there's a reason why Jerry's book is called THE TOTAL FILM-MAKER), old-school auteurs, writer-director-producers (Gallo even wrote the music for BUFFALO '66, a la Jerry's hero Chaplin - Jerry came up with the thematic melody for the first movie he directed, THE BELLBOY - aagh! somebody stop me) who intriguingly marshal great piles of money and armies of people in the service of an image of themselves as powerless little boys. Like Lewis's characters - most explicitly in CRACKING UP - Gallo's is a suicidal clown, and (here comes a big spoiler about the endings of two movies) just like THE PATSY, BUFFALO '66 gives its hero the great satisfaction of dying before being magically (cinematically) restored (see also). Also, they both wear red shoes. Goodbye.