I recently watched Buffalo ’66, a film directed and starred in by Vincent Gallo. A film essentially about a lost soul trying to find meaning, the film begins with plenty of wide and aerial shots, to emphasize the main character’s (Billy Brown) alone-ness and smallness. As the film progressed, Gallo incorporated closer and closer shots as we began to find out more and more about the mysterious Billy Brown. In one early scene, Billy uses the pay phone to call his parents. The scene begins with a medium shot, with the camera man following his every fidget and twitch in a very “hand-held” fashion. I feel this shot really highlighted how uncomfortable Billy was talking to his parents (whom he hasn’t talked to in years). As his conversation became heated and more intense, the extreme close up shots were applied. In one shot, the camera only focused on Billy’s eyes darting back and forth as he lies to his mother on the phone.
In one of my favorite scenes in the movie, Billy starts to open up his heart to Layla (Christina Ricci). They are in a motel room, and the camera looks down from the ceiling at them. It is composed very symmetrical, the bed completely centered with two of the same side tables on opposite sides. Billy and Layla lay on the bed about a foot and a half apart, then cuts to them getting closer and kissing, then cuts to them cuddling. What I really liked about this scene is that it didn’t need dialogue to move the story forward, it was all pushed by body language.
The style was consistent throughout the whole movie, with well-framed, Norman Rockwell-esque compositions. I love Vincent Gallo’s work.