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AMERICAN BUFFALO is another story of men's interminable struggle toward the top of the heap, a goal which ultimately and inevitably eludes most of us. Don Dubro, the proprietor of a dusty dark inner-city junk shop, holds court there with his friends and makes plans probably on a daily basis for his ascendancy to the top. He does this more out of habit than hope because he's long ago surrendered his future to the daily repetition of his life as guardian of the discarded remnants of others' possessions. Disheveled Teach, on the other hand, is either too dumb or too stubborn to accept the lot life has dealt him. Instead, he bucks like a wild horse under the saddle and refuses to be broken. Most pitiable of the trio which populates the movie is teen-aged Bobby. Mistaking much of the palaver which passes between the older men as pearls of wisdom, Bobby is the only one of the trio who still has a chance to make a life for himself somewhere beyond this tired too-familiar neighborhood. Don ... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
...so why couldn't they find a more imaginative director? Michael Corrente's direction of this would have seemed static and lethargic even if it had been done on the stage, which it practically was. If you're going to do a filmed staging, do a filmed staging. But if you're going to go through the motions of making a film, try to make it the least bit visually interesting. What does this guy have against moving the camera, for chrissake?? It's a shame, really, as Franz and Hoffman are flawless, and really have a handle on the tough delivery of Mamet dialogue. To see how easy it is to make Mamet-speak sound odd and out of place, check out the performance of Pinky in the recent "Heist". Mamet is as difficult to act as Shakespeare, all submerged rhythms and unusual language. American Buffalo is a powerful work, and the performances reflect the power of the text...but all that power crashes to the ground like a 747 with Corrente's static presentation. I'm giving this a 7/10, simply because the script and performances were SO brilliant. If directing were all I was taking into account, it'd be a 3/10. So disappointing.
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