Friday, February 25, 2011


Today's movie is a bit of a rarity, Buried, the 2010 movie staring Ryan Reynolds, and only Ryan Reynolds, directed by a certain Rodrigo Cortés, who as far as I can see have directed only one feature-lenght film before. Also, the whole thing is set in a very restricted location, inside a coffin to be precise. There's several ways a concept like this could go horribly, horribly wrong, but how it fares, I won't get into quite yet. Also, this review will be fairly spoiler free, as I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on the full arc and experience of this 
I like this poster. Probably the best use of Review Blurbs I've seen.

The story is, as one might expect, fairly bare-bones. Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a truck driver working for some contractor firm who does work in Iraq. When transporting some goods to a school somewhere, the convoy gets attacked and our hero gets knocked out, waking up inside a small coffin under ground with a cellphone, a lighter, a hip flask of whiskey and some other minor items he finds over the course of his stay in the wooden box that, luckily for him, is somewhat larger than a coffin. Over the course of the movie, he gets into contact with both his kidnappers and a branch of the US military that just might help him, however, his prospects are, understandably, rather grim.

In one way, this movie reminds me a little of Dogme movies, as by defined by the Dogme95-movement. I'm not much a fan of that school of film-making myself, but I can definitely see the appeal in ultra low-budget simplistic film-making. Not to go much of a tangent, Buried is very much a minimalistic movie, since the only character we see in the entire movie, with one brief exception, is Paul, and the only set, with no exceptions, is his minuscule prison. That said, Buried does allow itself a couple of luxuries that would not be allowed in a Dogme movie, amongst others some camera tricks. You'd think the camera crew wouldn't have too much of a job in a movie like this, but there's some surprisingly good camera work in there. For one, we have the very handheld, wavy style many of the shots are in, especially after Paul starts going just a little stir crazy, but the most impressive shot, in my mind, was a lingering 360 degree sweep of the coffin that it took me a while to figure out. On the less bright side, there's a couple of kinda immersion-breaking shots that show Paul in the coffin with darkness outside. I'm a bit torn on this one, because I think it works, as the movie is kind of from Paul's point of view, and getting a little artsy to express his emotions is groovy, but especially that shot reminded me that this was, indeed, shot on a set somewhere, but that's enough film student wankery for now.
You'll see a good bit of this during the movie.
Oh who am I kidding, the wankery is all I've got. To be honest, Ryan Reynolds surprised me in this. Considering I had only seen the guy in Blade: Trinity, which was pretty much the worst imagenable introduction to the Blade series I could've gotten, with a Reynolds who plays badass about as well as Mark Wahlberg plays... anything, and was relentlessly shilled as a character I should care about, despite being about as interesting as watching painted grass dry, and a couple of comedies of varying degrees of romantic subplotting. That said, I did not make that connection in this movie, oh no, far from it. Thanks to the stark lighting in the coffin and Reynolds actually playing a serious character, it took me a good half hour before I said to myself. "Wait a second, that's Berg." Most interestingly, this did not really ruin my enjoyment of the movie, I guess we'll have to chalk that up to Reynolds actually showing some acting chops here.

Seriously, Paul Conroy is a bit of a tricky character to play, since he's got what I will only describe as several asshole-ish traits, well, maybe that's a little unfair, and he's just a regular guy who reacts poorly to the fresh batch of weapons-grade bad luck that has been dumped in his lap? It's an interpretation thing, I guess, but either way  Reynolds does it really well, he plays a character that supports both these interpretations, and does it so well that I actually felt sympathy for him, lacking this would've been a deathblow for the movie, or at least made the thriller part less potent. Without spoiling too much, the final fifteen to twenty minutes might be some of the most intense movie watching experience I've ever had, and it made me kinda sad I didn't get around to catching it in theaters, because the ability to pause, minimize and in general not have the movie thrust in your face for the full 90 minutes might have taken away from the intensity somewhat. Of course, looking at these last 20 minutes, it might not be such a bad thing to have the impact diminished a little, but there you go, I'm a movie masochist, apparently.

Also, it should really go without saying, but claustrophobic might want to give this one a pass, just like epileptics might want to avoid Irreversible.

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