Thursday, October 7, 2010


A man trapped in a box for 90-some odd minutes in the premise for Buried, Rodrigo Cortes' nervy and claustrophobic new yarn.  Classically revisiting the experimental thrill phase of Alfred Hitchcock (think Rope and especially Lifeboat), Buried is effective mostly by the clever use of space; spurning from a scarier-than-thou conceit.  It's also a one-man show for Ryan Reynolds, escaping his Hollywood pretty boy demeanor, thoroughly commanding the show as Paul Conroy, a contracted truck driver in Iraq, who after capture is confined to a coffin somewhere in the desert.  It's in a the visual clarity and no-nonsense approach from Reynolds that Buried succeeds as far as it does, as we're presented with an American man trapped with nothing but a cell phone (whose mobile carrier must be truly awesome) and a Zippo.  It's unfortunate to a degree that the film's script feels I suppose perhaps a lack of confidence that they felt the need to add up heavy-handied contrivances to such a grueling survivalist film; the script is credited to newcomer Chris Sparling.  Not only must Conroy be an American civilian in Iraq-- a compelling enough idea-- the filmmakers for some odd decision felt more sympathy than the obvious should be bestowed on Conroy by giving him a dementia-ridden mother and a for a burn on capitalist America, his bosses must be presented as callous as his captors demanding $5 million in ransom, but must he also be burdened with an anxiety disorder to boot.  Yet despite all my kvetching, I liked Buried and recommend it fairly highly.  The movie needn't all the heavy-handiness at all, since the sequences of a bloody and dirty Reynolds are far more compelling than any plot distractions that enter the fray. 

The film spawned an outright bidding war upon it debut at this years Sundance Film Festival, which upon opening to unfairly middling box office in limited release, might again be a case where film festival audiences aren't attune to actual moviegoers.  That's a shame here, I think sense there's so much talent apparent.  Cortes proves a sly and willing antagonist of our human terrors, and Reynolds proves perhaps for the first time an acting life outside of middling comic franchise, mere eye candy roles, and Van Wilder.  And the the films credit, the last fifteen minutes or so are nearly perfect; Cortes knows what most filmmakers don't: even if the film isn't perfect, END WELL!  I feel this nervy, survivalist trifle might just be a appetizer for the Danny Boyle\James Franco self-mutilation 127 Hours.  B

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