In Buffalo ‘66, Vincent Gallo, acting in a movie that he wrote (with Alison Bagnall) and directed himself, has a face like an unsheathed knife. Pointed beard, pointed nose, pressed-together lips, filthy hair, a screw-you stare – Gallo, a former Calvin Klein heroin-chic model, takes his own neurotic singularity very seriously. He believes in it, he enacts it, and he appears to have very little distance from it. Watching Buffalo ‘66 is a little bit like landing in the hands of a ratty hustler who lives in a bus station (“Hey, can I talk to you for a second? Just for a second …”). Which is not to say that Gallo doesn’t have talent and a scraggly kind of wit. He plays Billy Brown, a jumpy young loser who leaves prison and spends a long time looking for a place to pee. Billy kidnaps a girl (Christina Ricci) with heavily tinted eyes and fluttering lashes – an erotic doll with a pliant disposition. The early scenes have a scary, paranoid realism, bordering on farce. Billy is terrified of sex with the girl; he kidnaps her so she will accompany him on a visit to his parents, who hate him and wish he did not exist. Angelica Huston and Ben Gazzara produce successful vicious caricatures, but in the family scenes, Gallo begins to play with trick staging and trick editing, and the movie comes grinding to a halt. Baffled, we feel like he’s working through some sort of private obsession. From there on, it’s strictly touch-and-go – some good scenes, some things that don’t work at all, and a rushed, unsatisfactory ending. If Gallo is going to have a teenage girl fall for scary Billy, the movie needs more psychological realism than it has. Who, and what, is she? Gallo may be too self-obsessed to care. Buffalo ‘66 has an authentic rotgut flavor, but here’s the question for the future: Will Gallo learn to criticize his own ideas or continue to pride himself on screwing up?