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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 07/02/1998,

Buffalo '66

Palookaville's Vincent Gallo does it all in this surrealist fable -- he directs, writes, acts, even composes the score. The result is a darkly funny day in the life of Billy Brown (Gallo), a lifelong loser who returns to the industrial gloom of Buffalo after five years in the slammer. Desperate and lonely, he plots revenge on the man who he believes ruined him: former Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Wood (read: the real-life Scott Norwood), whose botched field goal (Norwood missed wide right in Super Bowl XXV) robbed the Bills of the championship and Billy of a $10,000 bet. Along for the caper is a jiggly tap dancer (Christina Ricci), whom our hero has kidnapped to pose as his wife.

Gallo skulks with unnerving effect as Billy, a raw-boned bundle of pathos in too-tight pants. As director, he infuses his allegory of alienation with unswerving candor, inventive visuals, and a parade of cameos, including Mickey Rourke, Rosanna Arquette, Ben Gazzara, and Anjelica Huston. However, Ricci's role is woefully underdeveloped; her unblinking kewpie absorbs Gallo's angst but never blossoms beyond a trite fantasy of instant love. Without this emotional edge, Buffalo '66 ends up like the hard-luck football team at its center: it just misses. At the Kendall Square and in the suburbs.

-- Alicia Potter