EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|AMERICAN BUFFALO (director: Michael Corrente; screenwriter: from the play by David Mamet/David Mamet; cinematographer: Richard Crudo; editor: Kate Sanford; music: Thomas Newman; cast: Dustin Hoffman (Teach), Sean Nelson (Bobby), Dennis Franz (Donny); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Gregory Mosher; MGM Home Entertainment; 1996-USA/UK)|
Hoffman channels his Ratso Rizzo character from the
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
American Buffalo is written by David Mamet and based
Michael Corrente ("Brooklyn Rules"/Federal Hill"/"Outside
Providence") directs this talkative
three-character stagy film
that never quite makes the grade as a whole despite
performances and the sharp Mamet-speak. Its
pessimistic vision of
mankind becomes so dreary it can give one a headache.
theater conversation piece is just too tedious to be
doesn't say enough about its struggling vulgar
low-life characters to
make it worth watching. Dustin Hoffman channels his
character from the 1969 Midnight Cowboy.
Franz) is the struggling owner of a junk shop in
the poorer part of
town. He's upset because he recently sold a buffalo head nickel to a
$90 and has since found out it's worth five times
that. Donny has his
loyal teenage errand boy, Bobby
(Sean Nelson), going around town to see if he can
locate that customer.
The plan cooked up by Donny is to break into his
living quarters with
Bobby and steal back the coin and any other coins
if the guy is a
collector, as suspected. Donny's
loud mouth paranoid poker playing loser friend,
Hoffman), a pretentious know-it-all petty criminal
type, wants to get
in on the action and bad mouths Bobby as being too
green to do the job.
As the poison-tongued Teach keeps up his bad vibe
rap, Donny becomes
uncertain and takes the kid off the robbery.
Things escalate, after
about an hour of this Mamet dialog getting
repeated, as Bobby tries to
sell to Donny a similar nickel he said a man in
the street sold him.
Donny becomes uncertain who to believe, as Teach
punches out Bobby for
lying about the coin and suspicions boil over
until an important plot
point is introduced that clears up everything.
The plodding film
achieves much tension or wonder at male bonding
working or going under,
and the Franz character's soul searching (the main
point of the story)
is too subtle to shine through all the theatrics
technically perfect but unmoving hammy performance
(even if Franz gives
a brilliant performance and almost makes the film
work by himself). In
any case, it's solid enough as a play, but as a
movie it's too awkward
and too bleak for me to sit through this verbal
diarrhea and not be
more bored than thrilled.
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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