Warning! David Mamet films can cause depression in lab animals., 1 June 2002 Author: Lary9 from IMDb-United States
"I know about homelessness and alcoholism… about shattered dreams and failure. I understand the fears that all adults have about the interconnectedness of social, economic and emotional life and its fundamental frailty. We all hope to create meaning and security for ourselves. The old man was an irksome anthem to all the ‘crazy old uncles' in the attic, untethered to established melodies and outrageously adrift from convention… a poster boy for the well known adage, `There but for fortune go you or I.'"
---from Notes from An Unfortunate Son by L. Alba
‘American Buffalo' with Dustin Hoffman (Teach) and Dennis Franz (Don) are two guys in a junk shop planning a theft of a coin collection. The plot involves a rare ‘buffalo' nickel and plotting about a totally speculative coin collection that they plan to rob. Pathetically, this collection may not even exist. The heist never takes place. All that does happen is a descent slowly into a world of plans and paranoia, more plans, contentiousness and self-delusion brought to us by…you guessed it….the dark side; the side of handguns without permits, the side where transient hotels are euphemisms for ‘flop houses', and everybody seems to be aimlessly strolling toward that street corner in my childhood memories, each with their own cane & newspaper flag. In spite of all their pugnacious, animated posturing, it's just another glimpse of those same insecurities that challenge and motivate us all. It's why we all work so hard on ‘Maggie's Farm.' The dialogue is the ‘thing.' It is tangential and circuitous. It seems to lead nowhere. One senses that these are routine exchanges. The Franz character emits an occasional spark of redemptive compassion, but Hoffman plays a man consumed by the code of the ‘streets' and he harangues Franz for being so weak. This is a brave and challenging play put to the silver screen but I'm guessing that its dialogue-dense script would better engage on stage. However…bear this caveat in mind, afterall David Mamet wrote it. This film is a sad and stressful ‘black tie' film of the interior and requires a companion mood to suit the color. I was left feeling raw and hollowed out by the poverty and folly of human endeavor. The viewer should dress their affect accordingly.