Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vincent Gallo and Buffalo 66 - by Jerry Tallmer

An old but to me new interview I just found (here: http://www.siegelproductions.ca/filmfanatics/gallo.htm)that I really like - it's sort of different...

Vincent Gallo and Buffalo 66
By Jerry Tallmer

Jerry Tallmer
New York City journalist and critic
One of founders of “ The Village Voice”
Created the Obie Awards (Off-Broadway Theatre) in 1956

It was 12 noon, the appointed hour, on a recent sunny Sunday, but the buzzer didn't answer and didn't answer and didn't answer, so the next most logical thing was to look around for a street phone, and spot one on the next corner, the intersection of Elizabeth and Spring, and go to it and put a quarter in and dial the guy's number -- or just be in the middle of dialing when there he was, Vincent Gallo, in his undershirt, crossing from the other side of the street toward his own doorway, his hand raised in a hi-ya salute.

"I was up there, working on some tape," Gallo said, indicating an upper floor of the building across the way. "I was looking out the window and saw you, so I came running down."

He points to the top of his own building, the Little Italy tenement, in which he's had a tiny pad subsequently expanded into a tiny duplex, since he was 17, a runaway kid from Buffalo, N.Y.

"Scorsese's parents were married on that roof," he says. "Joe DiMaggio's father or uncle or something owned the building next door. Eric Bogosian's place is somewhere around here too."

Etched here and there at our feet into what was once the wet cement is the name GALLO in big block capitals. A few feet away: VINCENT GALLO.

"There are around a hundred of those scattered all around town," the actor murmurs. Then,
straight-faced: "Seventy percent of them I did myself. Then girls started doing them too, adding their names and telephone numbers."

Yes? Well?

"Well, I'm listed in the phone book. I'm very open to girls calling."

That's in that breath. In another he talks of his lone-wolf loneliness -- his near-celibacy -- for along time now.

And so, in its own sweet sharp full-of-contradictions way, does the kookie, original, quite lovely movie he's turned out, "Buffalo '66," written by Vincent Gallo, directed by Vincent Gallo, starring Vincent Gallo.

One of the hits of the Museum of Modern Art/Lincoln Center's 1998 New Directors/New Films series,"Buffalo '66" brings a difficult guy named Billy Brown out of prison and back to the scene of hisscrewed-up boyhood under ludicrously self-involved, dysfunctional parents (Ben Gazzara, Anjelica Huston), who couldn't care less whether Billy lives or breathes.

Accompanying him willy-nilly in this visit is the gorgeous teenage dance student (Christina Ricci) whom Billy has kidnapped and is dragging home to prove to those same wacko folks that, yes, he has a wife.

To this totally unfrightened girl (whose gearshift car he can't drive, so she does) he blusters, like a 10-year-old: "If you make me look bad, I'll kill you right in front of my mom and dad - and I won't ever talk to you again in my whole life." Beautiful.

Perhaps the knife-edge face of Vincent Gallo, blue eyes blazing with sensitivity, is already familiar to you from Abel Ferrara's "The Funeral" (in which Gallo plays a slain 1930s working-class radical), Alan Taylor's "Palookaville" (about a gang that couldn't rob straight), or Emil Kusturica's "Arizona Dream" (wherein Gallo did a knockout parody of Cary Grant versus the crop-duster in Hitchcock's "North by Northwest").

Perhaps you've seen him in any of a half-dozen pictures he's made abroad, three of them directed by´Claire Denis in France.

Most probably you've seen him, even if you didn't know it, as that lean and hungry hunk in the Calvin Klein CK cologne ads shot by Richard Avedon. You'll soon also have the chance to see him in Roland Joffe's "Goodbye, Lover" (as, says Gallo, "a very methodical assassin"); as "a very sweet pothead" in Aki Kaurismaki's "Los Angeles Without a Map"; and as "a man on the run from the law and the mob" in Kiefer Sutherland's "Truth or Consequences, N.M."

Busy fellow, Vincent Gallo. But never so busy as in these past weeks, getting "Buffalo '66" ready for release.

"Come upstairs," he said on that recent sunny Sunday. "I worked all night, to 8 a.m., on the
poster and the soundtrack cover and the sequence mix of the music for the film. Like I did the trailer too -- one of the best things I did.

"I tell you something," Gallo said, plucking at his miniature Mephistopheles beard. "If you're a perfectionist, it can be overwhelming. When I made the movie, in my mind I was making a classic musical.

"So when Ben Gazzara sings (or, to be exact, lip-synchs to a scratchy 24-year-old recording of "Fools Rush In" by Gallo's own father), or when Christina Ricci does her tap dance, or in the bedroom scene where we kiss (she leading the way for a frozen, terrified Billy), it's choreography. Those are musical numbers like in those old Hollywood musicals.

"To make a movie with '50s realism, that's what John Cassavetes does. People should understand I'm not interested in that."

What Vincent Gallo the actor, the director, the musician, the composer, the artist, the model, the free-thinker, the free-speaker is in fact interested in is . . . everything; not least each and every one of the 5,500 movies in his video collection.

The Billy of "Buffalo '66" was born in that city in that year, on a day on which the Buffalo Bills ignominiously blew a championship football game. Billy's mother had to miss the game on TV because she was giving birth to Billy. She wishes she'd skipped the childbirth instead.

Vincent Gallo was born in Buffalo on April 11, 1962, four years before his fictional alter ego, and if the bit about his mother is only, shall we say, poetic license, any of the extreme behavior in "Buffalo '66" ascribed to his father (terrific performance by Ben Gazzara) is, that father's son will tell you, understated.

"My father is also a Vincent Gallo - Vincenzo Vido Gallo, no senior, no junior. He's just the other Vincent Gallo - the one with less money now. My mother is Jacamina Fantuzzo Gallo, called Jan, or Janet (as in the film). They like to say they're Sicilian."

It was to avoid a beating from his father that 13-year-old Vincent, an electronics whiz-kid and budding thief, had, back there in Buffalo, taped his old man singing "Fools Rush In" to an old Nelson Riddle background arrangement.

"So 10 years ago," says 36-year-old Vincent, "I'm driving across the country in a car with one hundred of my cassettes, and at the end of the B side of some punk-rock thing there's this old, dirty, sun-baked tape, and I hear that 'Fools Rush In' and I'm stunned at my father's talent and my 13-year-old engineering skills.

"And that's the inspiration for the whole movie -- that and my feeling about Christina Ricci the moment I first saw her in 'Mermaids' (when she was 9 years old).

I knew at that point, driving in that car, that one day I would make a movie, and that there would be a scene in it of the father character singing that song."

This being the same father who - you've said - yanked you out of the back seat and smashed your face into the rearview mirror when, on a Christmas trip home to Buffalo, you told him that Stella Adler ("and she taught Marlon Brando") had accepted you into her acting class?

"Yes. It didn't mean shit to me about Marlon Brando, but I said it to impress my parents. It incensed my father to hear me speak out about myself in any favorable way, so he - readjusted - my way of thinking. How untalented and unattractive and unspecial I was. It made me look at myself very closely. I guess there was some part of me thought he was right.

"Incidentally, I never did raise the tuition for the Stella Adler classes, which was all for the best."

And in the movie, when the girl asks if she can see photos of you as a kid, and the mother bellows: "Honey, where's the Billy picture?" - i.e., the one and only Billy picture.

"Very true to my childhood." (Pause.) "Whereas they have a shrine to my brother. I was
the best athlete, the best student in the family, and had the best girlfriends, but he dated one pretty cheerleader or something." (Pause.) "If I had three kids (Vincent also has a sister]) and I was one of them, I'd be my favorite by a lot."

Billy Brown couldn't have put it better.

"So at 16," says the real Billy Brown, "I quit Sweethome Senior High School and hitchhiked to New York.

"I had $22, and had known one girl here, whom I'd picked up at a rock club on a three-day trip to New York a few months earlier. I had her phone number and address, but when I buzzed her buzzer, lugging this huge suitcase I'd brought with me, there was nobody there.

"I spent two and a half days on the street, sleeping on stoops, and then I took the subway to Brighton Beach and hung out there. I wasn't a vagabond either; I was a smart kid. It was lonely, isolating, and overwhelming.

"Then I met a young guy, a hustler, a hip kid, and he let me crash at his place in that great big building at 200 Central Park West. He lived with some life-insurance guy. Ever seen the movie 'The Servant'? It was a relationship like that.

"Went back to Buffalo for three months to get my high-school degree, sold all my possessions, came back to New York with a few hundred dollars, and checked into the Bond Hotel, on Chambers Street, $22 week. Finally I found this apartment, and that hustler kid introduced me to (artist and musician) Jean-Michael Basquiat, and everything flew from there.

"It wasn't like George Clooney or any other bullshit actor wants to tell you about their starving,struggling days. That's all bullshit. To me, it was fun, hanging out with some of the coolest people in all the cool clubs. It was wonderful, intense, really intense. It was just that nobody had any money. Nobody got big. Except maybe Madonna.

"Being big," said Vincent Gallo, sitting there in his Stanley Kowalski undershirt in the
six-foot-square kitchen of his little white-on-white, Quaker-style apartment, "just means
you have impact. And if you can do something with it, it's exciting.

"I'd always thought money was the big thing in my life, and then I suddenly realized that I might be dying any day and that you can win the money thing and lose the impact.

"Marcel Duchamp had impact, very sophisticated impact, the best kind. He's my favorite artist."

Yes, Vincent, and he quit as an artist at the height of it all.

"Yeah. I think if Rauschenberg and Jasper John had quit like that, it would have been better for both of them."

Gallo isn't quitting, not yet. He's trying to raise the money for a movie to be called "The Brown Bunny" - if he can have the ironclad guarantee of "one-million percent" creative control.

"I still want money, but not at the risk of losing impact. That's why I can't make a bad second film," he says, fist hitting kitchen table. "Because then 'Buffalo '66' is wiped out."

All he'll say about "The Brown Bunny" is that it's about two brothers who drive across the country to see a girl. "It's a really dark, tragic story."

Did it really happen?

"No. But again, like 'Buffalo '66,' it's related to my own emotional tragedy. Again, catharsis."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Interview with Vincent :-)

Someone apparently managed to fullfil all his criteria ;)

Metropia and interview with Vincent Gallo

We saw today here at the Biennale the wonderful swedish animation movie Metropia: in 2024 the whole Europe will be connected with a high-speed metro system, an enormous subway between cities. The scenery is just great (lovely Berlin's Hauptbahnhof in decay!). Here a video.

Vincent Gallo give his voice to the main character, and today I interviewed him:

Vincent Vito Gallo (Buffalo 11.4.1961) is an American actor, director, painter, musician and model of Sicilian origin. Here at the 66th Biennale in Venice he dubs the protagonist of Metropia, animation movie by Tarik Saleh: come half an hour late, Gallo, T-schirt, tight black trousers and leather boots, was very friendly in answering our questions.

In Metropia we face themes like environment's destruction, no hope for the future and apocalyptic human relationships: what is your own opinion about?

I would say that the film has its own view, which does not correspond to mine: if you just think that the sun is 8 and a half minutes away at the speed of light, you realize that all this things are just minor concerns, details. In the world there are lots of things that we do not even are able to imagine, so I direct my energies to a bigger goal.

How does this point of view influence your cinema?

Ma story is very simple: I come from a poor family, a tough experience for me; I started very pragmatically, elementary, without any artistic pretension or philosophy. My work was a way to earn some money, like when I used to wash dishes in restaurants, I was the best of New-York! Gradually I started to do a kind of performances, staring at the people eating in the restaurant, crying, and make them feel bad. To me it was an idea of “survival”: I started working in the cinema only when I was sure that I was going to be paid. Also in Buffalo 66 I was supposed to be only an actor, but when the producer offered me a better payment if I was also the director, I accepted. So I became director! That movie helped me to have a better relationship with girls too...

Do you like Italian cinema?

Years ago I used to watch many Italian, mainly in TV: after I became interested in B-movies, I like the camera movements, the photography. The problem with Italian cinema were financial aids: these work against the idea of “survival” as I said before; you have to really get involved in your movie. I took part in some Italian productions, but they lacked the genius...

Do you make music in the same way in which you make movies?

No: in the cinema everything is stressful, you have to work with a lot of professionals, lots of people; in music you can be relaxed: for instance I paint while I listen to music (Gallo was a friend of J.-M. Basquiat).

In Metropia love is a revolutionary power...

Actually I loved more things than people: for 10 years I didn't have a girlfriend, I always felt embarrassed: even now when I sleep with a girl I have the feeling that the bed does not belong entirely to me anymore, as if I couldn't reach every corner of the bed. Maybe because I had to sleep till 11 with my grandpa, who had eventually a wooden leg! So uncomfortable...

Differences in dubbing and acting?

It was easy to just give my voice to the movie: today one gives too much importance to the image, to the personal appearance; if I don't see me I cannot think “How ugly I am!”. For instance now I don't want you to take pictures because I don't like my hairstyle. (He is preparing for his next film). Anyhow I accepted Metropia because of the money they offered: even tough I never did a blockbuster, it's just because nobody offered it to me seriously.

Do you consider yourself an outsider?

We are all insiders: I would be so happy if everybody loved me: I don't know ho said that I am a difficult and hard guy...


Monday, September 14, 2009

I love nasty men...

According to Times Online, Vincent has showen the "worst behaviour by an actor" at the Venice Film Festival.

Why, you all might ask?

Worst behaviour by an actor Vincent Gallo, promoting the Swedish animation Metropia, apparently gave a warning that he would terminate interviews in which the words “but”, “however” or “only” were used. He also requested prior approval of journalists so that he could veto those he didn’t like the look of.


You have to love him - and I don't even mean that in an ironic sort of way. I actually expected that he had done way worse than this when I read that his behaviour had been bad.

And did he show himself there yet? Well kinda sorta...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

METROPIA - Longer Clip

Remember Metropia? The animated film Vincent did together with Juliette Lewis? Dark, gloomy? There was a teaser trailer a while ago and as it will be shown at the Venice Film Festival, a longer Clip has surfaced.

Me Likes. But then again, I am into these dark animated films - I also fell for Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride and so on (even though I know these are nothing like Metropia).