US - New York - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 22 - 08/08/98
New York Stories
At the movies
Wandering around New York City is almost like being in a movie - all the time.
The places, the streets, the buildings, the people - everything's like it's motion pictures.
It's a perfect place to watch movies. Even when you get seated inside
a theatre you get to feel the pulse of the big city. Yes, it's true! Visit Angelika Film
Center at Houston Street. Buy a ticket, go downstairs, get in and find a seat. Soon you'll
find out that there's a double edge in underground films. The Subway's got a tight
schedule... Anyway, here's three stories, and they're all highly recommended. The action
takes place in Buffalo, NY, in Queens, New York City, and on Manhattan, NYC.
Lions Gate Films Inc./Muse Productions, USA 1998
Written and directed by Vincent Gallo
Music composed by V. Gallo (plus King Crimson and others)
Starring: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston, Ben Gazzara, Kevin Corrigan, Rosanna Arquette, Mickey Rourke, Jan-Michael Vincent, plus others.
Buffalo 66 is a dark and strange comedy signed by Vincent Gallo, known from films
such as Palookaville and Arizona Dream (later this year he can be seen in Mika
Kaurismäki's L.A. Without a Map as well as Roland Joffé's Goodbye, lover). It's
just so great to watch Mr. Gallo. His crooky face, his awkward movements. He's as always a great
low-life character, someone on the odd side of life. Like when we meet him in Buffalo 66
as Billy Brown, just as he's released from prison. On his way to his hometown, Buffalo, to
see his parents after "being away, working on something top-secret for the government" for
5 years. Billy kidnaps Layla (Ricci - who made her break-through some years ago as the little
girl in Mermaids, and as the spooky Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family) to
pose as his wife. Layla plays the role, and she likes it. In the house of Billy's parents
(Huston and Gazzara), both football-crazy (Buffalo Bills) and stir-crazy, we get the
impression of what sort of childhood Billy's been through. Presented in some cunning
flash-backs, we get the pre-story told.
Billy's looking for revenge. The "reason" for his 5-year-sentence is Buffalo Bills, or the
Bills' kicker, who missed a last second field-goal against N.Y. Giants in the Superbowl finals.
The team lost, and so did Billy. He'd put up a $ 10,000 bet, and to get even with the bookie
(Rourke) Billy confessed a crime and did time for some gangster friends of the sleazy bookie.
Go see the film to get the rest of it. Vincent Gallo has made a very entertaining directorial
debut. The story isn't the most original, but the cast and the acting is brilliant all the way.
Gallo and Ricci is great together, as the emotionally fucked-up boy and the strange and caring
girl. My favourite scene: the two of them inside the photo booth. Check it out!
True Fiction Pictures/Shooting Gallery Films, USA 1997
Written and directed by Hal Hartley
Music composed by H. Hartley
Starring: Thomas Jay Ryan, James Urbaniak, Parker Posey, James Saito, Kevin Corrigan, plus others.
Since Simple Men I've been disappointed with Hal Hartley's filmmaking. Now it's time
for Henry Fool, and, yes, it's a good film. Good, close to very good. I can understand
why this year's Cannes festival awarded Henry Fool for best screenplay.
Simon Grim (James Urbaniak) is a young garbage man, without a social life. He's quiet, he
writes poetry, and lives with his mother Mary (Maria Porter) and his sister Fay (Parker Posey -
who also had roles in Amateur and Flirt). Mary's like a zombie, being on heavy
medication, while Fay's main interest is to meet handsome boys and get laid. Simon is the
glass-eyed nerd, the one everyone likes to beat and kick. His life changes the day Henry
(Thomas Jay Ryan - who makes a powerful screendebut!) moves into the family's basement and
life. Henry is a drifter, an ex-con, and quite a rough type, who brings a pile of notebooks -
his unfinished "memoirs". He encourages Simon in his writing, being sort of a teacher for the
young man, and slowly the disciple's explicit writings gets attention from the world.
Simon's receiving the chances Henry's been dreaming of.
Henry Fool must be Hartley's most ambitious, and maybe also funniest movie. He knows
how to present low-toned one-liners with a punch, and also to use the un-said to underline his
points. There's a mixture of fine humor and extreme tragedy within the film. Yet I find the
last part of the movie a bit strange and un-fitting. In sort of like an epilouge, we meet the
characters a few years later (due to an incident I don't want to disclose here), and, well,
there's a departure to...Sweden. A bit corny and far-fetched, but surely tounge-in-cheek by
Hal Hartley? You shouldn't miss the opportunity to see this one.
The Last Days Of Disco
Castle rock Entertainment/Westerly Films, USA 1998
Written and directed by Whit Stillman
Starring: Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Eigeman, Matthew Keeslar, MacKensie Astin, Matt Ross, plus
It seems like Whit Stillman has gotten into a four year cycle of film-making. The brilliant
Metropolitan came in 1990. Barcelona, which I found just about OK, was released in 1994. And now he's back
with his description of the death of disco, The Last Days Of Disco. Strangely (luckily) enough there isn't much
dancing in it.
Manhattan, the mid-80's: The two friends, Alice (Chloë Sevigny - a young and talented actress who made
her debut in Kids) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale - seen in Shoooting Fish and Much Ado About Nothing)
frequent a hip disco club hoping to find Mr. Nice, they're colleagues in the same publishing company, and they decide
to become room-mates. Alice is the nice one, Charlotte is somewhat bitchy and evil. (Quote: "In physical terms, I'm cuter than
you, but you're much nicer than I am.") Together with their circle of friends and new relations (love - hate - love) they
hang out on this disco-place, because it's hip to do so. While discussing the philosophic aspects of life, and experiencing
both the sweet dreams and harsh reality.
As always Stillman has come up with a talkative film with an ironic twist
and a witty charm. The Last Days of Disco doesn't have much of a story. It just takes place...during the last days of
the disco-era, showing the decadence, describing the surfacial people who surfed the "happy days" before safe-sex was an
issue and before the yuppies met extinction (did they?). But it's fun to watch.
A lot of the actors/actresses have
worked in Stillman's earlier films. Chris Eigeman f.i., who plays Des (the club manager, who tells his "girlfriends" he's
gay as an excuse for breaking up, just so that he can move on to the next one), starred both in Metropolitan and
Barcelona. He's a real expert doing really annoying characters. The players do well, the dialouge works
perfect, and the film has got plenty of humourous sequences. Definitely worth seeing, while dancing.
Copyright © 1998 Håvard Oppøyen