Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shocktoberfest 2

Door 3

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 1996 film “Door 3” (as in the number of a door and not the third in a trilogy) is more interesting for its ideas that will eventually surface in his later films than for its own outright creepiness. Basically, this is Kurosawa’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. An insurance saleswoman (Ryo Amamiya) travels to a non-descript office building, where she becomes seduced by the male client there,. She is then slowly stalked by a group of zombie women who spit out little green monsters. Yes, I realize the description sounds like a bad 50’s sci-fi, but this is nothing new for Kurosawa…. Recycling themes and bracketing them around his own distinct style (slow zooms, shadows, plastic sheeting etc). It is curious, though, because “Door 3” features the identical blueprint for a scene that would appear later in “Pulse”- the crab walk woman, although less freakish here, is rolled out with the same droning music and shot placement. “Door 3” is a minor work in Kurosawa’s oeuvre, yet it’s fun to see this talented filmmaker playing with ideas and images way before they became ingrained in the Japanese horror new wave.

The Entity

Barbara Hershey is attacked and repeatedly raped by an invisible force. Yes, I know that description sounds like a bad…. Well just bad. But Hershey’s performance is very good and director Sidney Furie handles the claptrap with straight determination and some genuine atmospheric thrills. More than an outright horror film, “The Entity” tosses around ideas about paranormal science versus psychotherapy in the role of the great Ron Silver as a therapist who sees Hershey’s violent episodes as something mental. Supposedly based on a real event in California in 1976, “The Entity” is actually a great little alternative to the pseudo-documentary falsehoods of the “Paranormal Activity” series. I only regret it’s taken me so long to catch up with it.


“Seizure“ (1974), the debut of director Oliver Stone, could be described as an early existential horror film. A group of people meet at the country house of a couple, Edmund (Jonathan Frid) and Nicole (Christina Pickles). Edmund, a novelist (described at the end of the film as the American Edgar Allan Poe) is being tormented by nightmares of a midget (Herve Villechazie, of “Fantasy Island” fame), mute strongman and Devil Queen (Martine Beswick). Once the guests arrive, these figments of his imagination come to life, break into the house and force the group to compete in deadly games until only one is left alive. Low budget to the extreme and marred by even worse visual standards (the version I saw was taken from a worn out VHS copy), there is a deviant mean streak to the film. This is the type of film that features wealthy Uncle Charley (Joseph Sirola) playing catch with Edmund’s son and tossing the ball way over his head with a sinister chuckle. That kind of mean. And in that regard, the empty, soulless existence of its party goers is refracted in the vengeance carried out by the three evil beings. Stone, who also helped write the film, seems to be making a case that the unhappiness created by the morbid author has literally come to life to exact retribution. “Seizure” is low on gore and at times a bit confusing, but it’s a horror film with some understated ideas that aim for much higher than its shocker grind house categorization.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

I completely understand the Hollywood machine’s intention to reformat classic horror thrillers for an updated audience, but Samuel Bayer’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” just landed with a strong thud for me. The filmmaking is lazy, the thrills are coordinated with no tension and it features the same burned-out-bulb aesthetic that dots the landscape of other Michael Bay produced modern remakes… see “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.


Now here’s a nice surprise. Going into cinematographer/director James Roberson’s “Superstition”, I knew little about it. Also known as “The Witch”, this is one creepy, nasty horror film that has no qualms about wiping out everyone, including children. An old house- home to an especially violent exorcism over 300 years ago- continues its spiral of evil today. Left to the local church, a minister (James Houghton) tries to restore it before another minister (Larry Pennel) and his family move in. Needless to say, the witch isn’t happy. Borrowing liberally from “The Exorcist” in a scene that features its own terrifying exorcism and refusing to show the evil witch in full-on glory, “Superstition” generates its thrills through Dario Argento like point of view shots of a blackened, clawed hand that is just as efficient. “Superstition” just may become one of my annual watches. And any horror film that features its first kill as an exploding head in a microwave can’t be all bad.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Revisiting the Faves: Fearless

"Fearless" ranked as my number 4 favorite film of 1993.

Peter Weir, like the best directors, is a chameleon, able to adapt and change his point of view to align with a wide variety of projects. He's also Australian, but a film like "Fearless"- which trades in deep grief and remorse- is a supremely universal idea. Starring Jeff Bridges as a plane crash survivor who walks away from the crash, saves a dozen others, then drives to a hotel and sleeps for days is immediately set up as a conflicted character. Is he suffering from amnesia? Is he shell shocked? We soon find out that he's probably all of these, but he has also come to the realization that he may be invincible, scoffing at the grief support groups that fellow survivors attend and standing on the edge of a high rise building, daring God to kill him. The tone of "Fearless" is, well, fearless. It's also a film that deals with some very dark moments. As a fellow survivor, Rosie Perez spirals into a deep depression at the loss of her infant son during the crash. There's an especially pungent moment during one of the grief counseling sessions (led by psychiatrist John Turturro) where a flight attendant confronts Perez and offers her condolences. Throughout the film, Weir and screenwriter Rafael Yglesias, give us harrowing glimpses inside the plane before the crash and this same flight attendant instructed Perez to buckle herself up first then hold tightly onto her baby. "Everything will be alright". It's a recurring statement throughout the pre-crash chaos that haunts most of the survivors post-crash. I can only imagine the horrific nightmares and memories one would have after such an event, and "Fearless" isn't afraid to go deep beneath the surface and mine the jaded emotions of Bridges and Perez.

Weir, director of such films as "Picnic At Hanging Rock", "Gallipoli" and "Dead Poets Society" is an interesting figure. Rotating between art house fare and more mainstream efforts, "Fearless" seems to find the best of both worlds. It plays like a guilt-chamber piece directed by Ingmar Bergman one second then an idiosyncratic indie romance the next. As Bridges' suffering and confused wife, Isabella Rossellini brings strong gravity to the outsider's view on the catastrophe. She watches her husband spend hours upstairs in his study drawing unique pictures and facilitates between the idea of wanting to cure his erratic behavior and furiously wondering if he's having an affair with Perez. If nothing else, 'Fearless" is probably the best example of post traumatic stress disorder one could imagine. And the ending- if you haven't seen it- is a gut punch that stands as one of the most moving finales of the last two decades.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010



“Carlos”, Olivier Assayas’ five hour terrorist epic about the 20 plus years in the life of international criminal Carlos the Jackal moves at breakneck speed and continually energizes the screen. Broken into three parts, Part 1 is the most difficult to absorb since Assayas and screenwriter Dan Franck open immediately in the action with Carlos already established in the international field of terrorism, bouncing between countries and spinning four or five different languages. There are so many characters introduced, so many quick lines of dialogue that explain away a convoluted history of governmental involvement, and an endless parade of female companions that it’s a bit daunting to find your bearings. Parts 2 and 3 settle in more, find a niche and hum along beautifully, though, especially once Carlos (Edgar Ramirez) finds his revolutionary soul mate in German forger Magda (Nora von Waldstatten). My only problem with “Carlos” and more specifically the new genre of epic terrorist ‘biographs’ (think “Che”) is a nagging reluctance to accept the flattery of their murderous main characters… and that’s exactly what “Carlos” and “Che” express despite their director’s nonchalant liberal statements. Assayas flaunts Carlos flagrant debauchery, creating the subconscious impact that a lifestyle of callously murder innocent victims is equivalent to rock star status. A police procedural in the most nominal of terms, “Carlos” is mostly about the extravagant lifestyle he leads at the expense of murder. This is nothing new in film, of course, its just hard to fully go with it. The police do win in the end (kidnapping and returning Carlos to French soil where he serves a lifetime sentence today) but its still hard to fully buy into a film that sets a bank bombing to grungy 80’s new wave. A bit self-serving to say the least.

Never Let Me Go

Despite the somewhat detached and cerebral critical reaction to Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go”, I found it to be hugely moving and one of the best films of the year. Adapted by the great (and under appreciated) Alex Garland from a much beloved novel, “Never Let Me Go” places a sensitive love triangle within an alternate history science fiction tale. Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are tremendous as the group of young people facing a shaky future. When the film requires each one to wilt literally and figuratively, their eyes hold the screen. They give brave, heartbreaking performances. “Never Let Me Go” is a film about a distorted past and present day in Britain where medical science has prolonged human life to over 100 years and the school of Hailsham is born where children are cultivated for much darker purposes when they grow older. Just like our own youthful days, urban legends are born (such as idea that if a child wanders beyond the boundary, they will end up with their hands and feet cut off) and weird ideas for survival are propagated later in life. The scene where the adult Mulligan and Garfield approach a supposed “art dealer” to grant a wish is handled with delicate intelligence, as is the entire film. A must see.

Let Me In

After the shaky-cam, gutter aesthetic of director Matt Reeves via “Cloverfield”, the idea of sitting through his totally pointless remake of the great Swedish vampire movie “Let the Right One In” seemed like a daunting challenge. Not so much. From the opening scene of a line of police sirens slowly snaking through a snow-covered mountainside, Reeves is in total visual command. Not only does “Let Me In” look terrific, it’s a comparable companion piece to Alfredson’s original in mood and tone. It even seems to up the ante in the acting division, as young “Kick Ass” star Chloe Moertz and Kodi Smit-McPhee are dynamic together whenever they’re on screen, reaching heights in their quiet moments together that few adult film actors attain. Sadly, I think “Let Me In” has already exited from mainstream theaters, failing to find an audience.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Dracula Has Risen From the Grave

The third Dracula incarnation from the Hammer studios and director Terence Fisher is the best. Christopher Lee returns as the master of darkness after skipping the second film, and his presence was highly missed. This time around he seeks revenge on the priest who hung a crucifix on his castle door and ends up terrorizing a young couple. All Hammer films have a distinctive look, but “Dracula Has Risen…” frames the character of Dracula in a beautiful and expressive manner, full of gaudy yellows, bright reds and nauseating greens for full effect. His entrances are especially elegant as well. And just when the wholesome, innocent Maria (Veronica Carlson) arrives, one knows she’ll be a rapt target for Dracula. The sensuality (and even kinkiness) of this Dracula tale is turned up and it all makes for a wonderfully atmospheric experience.

The Silent Scream

Unfortunately, the film’s opening scene- lighted as if it was Conrad Hall shooting “The Godfather” and timed to the super slow motion images of a group of policemen running into a house and discovering a grisly murder scene- isn’t sustained for the remainder of the film. There’s still much to be appreciated in Denny Harris “Psycho” rip off, though, including Italian scream queen Barbara Steele in a weirdly psychotic role and the director’s love for black glove Argento-style first person death scenes.

A Day of Judgment

A horror film in the most skeletal of terms, Chris Reynolds early 80’s obscura is more of a religious allegory. A small town in depression era 1920’s is rampant with its townsfolk breaking the commandments. There’s the local clerk having an affair with his boss’s wife, the gas station owner who schemes to put away his mother and father in a retirement home and the local banker who places the almighty dollar above all else. Things are amorally bankrupt until the Grim Reaper comes into town. Obviously wanting to be taken seriously, “A Day of Judgment” drags a bit in places, slowly forming the background of its characters before the Reaper makes his presence known. No amount of imagination is left in the tank, though, when the Reaper does eventually show up. Disguised in very little light, director Reynolds creates an eerie specimen that feels like the forbearer to Freddy Kruger.

Humanoids From the Deep

From the stable of Corman classics, director Barbara Peeters (that must be a pseudonym, no?) takes a low budget idea and spins an entertaining low budget yarn, complete with dismembered teens and lots of gunfire as large latex-suit fish monsters wreck havoc on a Pacific coastal town. The underlying theme of scientific research gone horribly wrong is glossed over. In the right hands, “Humanoids From the Deep” could have been a terrific eco-thriller, but c’mon, this is 1979 and the film wants to entertain and shock. Newly released on Blu-ray, I suppose the film has its share of supporters.

The House Where Evil Dwells

Think of a Japanese “Amityville Horror”. A couple (the luscious Susan George and Edward Albert) move into a Tokyo house where a hideous act of murder and hara-kiri were performed. The spirits of the troubled threesome slowly possess the new couple, driving them to act out their fatal denouements two hundred years later. Part of the scares in this film are efficient, but more of it is laughable. The weird scene in which a group of crabs torment a young girl is alternatively grotesque and side splittingly funny.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On First and Lasts

The Texas Rangers did it. Pushing it to five games on an opposing team's home turf isn't the ideal way to pull out a series win, but they did it. I officially have no fingernails left.

But it's all bittersweet. My family and I buried my father this week. Honestly, if the Rangers hadn't won today, I don't know if I could have dealt with everything. No, that's a lie. I could and would. When life throws you a curve ball, things like baseball and movies become menial activities. They help us cope.... take our mind off the loss... allow us to zone out and live in a fictionalized world where we can act like participants and believe we affect the outcome.... but its all nonexistent when someone you love dies. Yet its fitting that the Rangers won today. My dad is the one who transposed his love of baseball onto me and my family. An ardent admirer of the Yankees- and as my mom said tonight, it's going to be hard to root against either team in the ALCS- my father was the one who first put a baseball in my hand, watched me pitch throughout junior high and nervously sulked whenever I pitched in a game. As a kid, growing up in the small town of McGregor about 20 miles south of Waco, the stories from old friends of his are pouring in... describing long days of playing baseball and of the time the Yankees played an exhibition game in that small town in the mid 50's and my dad ran down the street, eventually catching up with the Yankees bus and having them all sign a baseball that sits on my parent's shelf today.

We collected baseball cards together (and he generously bought my entire collection when I was 12 or 13 and felt as if I'd outgrown the hobby, thereby keeping the cards in the family) and purchased cards off Ebay until his death. He was a hoarder... a fervernt list maker (one should see the stacks of notebooks with lists, want lists etc) and a history lover as he earned his bachelor's degree in the subject. He also passed over his love of movies to me. I'll never forget him coming home one day and watching a movie called "Goodfellas". I was 14 at the time and he told me I would appreciate this movie. I watched it, and that's the first movie that I remember recognizing a commanding presence behind the camera, exposing cinema as something more than my repeat viewings of "Pete's Dragon" or "Popeye" could ever reveal. He took me to R rated movies such as "Bull Durham" and "Beverly Hills Cop", understanding and respecting the fact that I understood the difference in artificial realities and the world we lived in. He respected me and I always loved him for that. Even further, I vividly remember the nights we'd saunter up to the church on the hill from our house, having a clear view of a drive-in theater across the highway, watching "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and trying to recall the dialogue together. It's the small moments such as these that feel so insignificant at the time, but reap huge benefits today.

My father wasn't always the best communicator and he was unconditionally hard on himself mentally for various reasons. My mother said he often commented that he had not been a good father. I would not have wanted any other father. His spirit, his generosity and his respect for intelligence have been so deeply instilled in my brother and I, that his influence is without question. My family will move on... we already miss our father dearly, but it's up to us to lead our lives in his wonderful example. Love ya dad.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

70's Bonanza: The Medusa Touch

Jack Gold's "The Medusa Touch" would make a fine double bill alongside Jerzy Skolimowski's "The Shout". Both films feature confused men who believe their inner thoughts and outward emotions can cause disaster and death. While "The Shout" is certainly more of an avant garde affair, "The Medusa Touch" is a Saturday afternoon type of serial that plays inoffensively with its heavy subject. In fact, director Jack Gold did most of his work in television, and "The Medusa Touch" is specifically lacking in cinematic qualities. This doesn't mean it's bad by any stretch of the means, it just trades in a flat, matter-of-fact editing and visual style that loses nothing in translation from big screen to small. And with high caliber stars such as Richard Burton, Lee Remick and Lino Ventura, "The Medusa Touch" understands that name recognition is the way to go.

A novelist (Burton) begins a therapy session with a psychiatrist (Remick) in which he discusses his ability to cause mayhem through telekinesis. His history and story-within-a-flashback (including his admissions to Remick) are gradually investigated by a detective (Ventura) after he's found murdered in his apartment. Ventura, as the pesky, dedicated detective receives the largest amount of screen time, and it's his perspective on the supposed mystical ability of Burton that fuels the story. But unlike "The Shout" which casts an aura of psychological wonder over the whole affair, "The Medusa Touch" is much more simplistic and fairy-tale like. The denouement, which features a crumbling church on scale with the hokey disaster films of the 70's, lays no doubt at the feet of Burton's psychic powers, reveling in the destruction of collapsing paper-mache blocks and overacting on behalf of the poor minions stuck inside the building. Again, "The Medusa Touch" does not strive for serious art-film acclaim. It's fun, weirdly different and a great example of a great actor slumming a bit.

My experiences with Burton and Ventura are far more knowing than that of Remick. Recently spotlighted on TCM in a variety of roles, her performance in "The Medusa Touch" is especially interesting. As the cold, calculated, buttoned-up psychiatrist who is forced to keep Burton's secrets, she exudes a simmering tension. The narrative eventually explains this tension, but it's a good performance in a film that could have easily been overshadowed by the thespian precision of Burton. Sadly, "The Medusa Touch" has been lost in the annuls of home video. Like the previously highlighted post on Kenji Fukusaku's "Virus", "The Medusa Touch" is big, goofy Saturday afternoon fun.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Breakout Artist 2010: Andrew Garfield

Anytime an actor has two films currently in circulation, as well as being pegged to play Spiderman in the upcoming franchise reboot, it's easy to say he's pretty much made it as an actor. But before "The Social Network" opened to critical acclaim this past weekend, Andrew Garfield probably wasn't identifiable as a house hold name just yet. And in reality, even though I'm probably in the minority for not doing handstands over "The Social Network", Garfield has been universally singled out as the real main character of Fincher's icy trip into early 2000's dot com explosions headed by geek sociopath Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). Garfield's portrayal of Zuckerberg's college chum, initial partner and money investor Eduardo Savarin holds the audience key to empathy in an otherwise distant examination of upper class Harvard blowhards. It's also his scene, when he realizes he's been pinched out of the financial windfall of the now international Facebook idea, that holds the most zing in "The Social Network". Garfield's expression of betrayal and momentary reclamation of his emotions is a thing of beauty in a film that chooses to avoid emotions. This is why "best supporting actor" awards were invented.

Garfield first popped up on the radar in 2007 as the troubled youth running from his past in John Crowley's understated "Boy A". Encompassing each frame of that film with a tense presence, Garfield projected the uncomfortable sense that the camera couldn't hold him if he wanted to dash away. Yet when the film called for him to settle into the pose of a well-adjusted twenty something as he goes on dates with a fellow co-worker, Garfield immediately flipped a switch and turned the dangerous into something timid, unsure of himself and tongue tied. It may seem easy to portray a damaged soul, but Garfield takes things to another level in "Boy A", aided by a superb script and melancholy finale.

After his role as the intellectual doubter in Robert Redford's "Lions For Lambs", Garfield's next amazing performance came in "1974" of the "Red Riding Trilogy", a triplet of films so brutal, so well structured and intimate that I watched them in a complete five hour sitting and they still remain as one of the very best films of 2010. While each episode has its strengths, Garfield kicks the torrid affair off as new investigative reporter Eddie Dunsford who comes into the town of Yorkshire, prodding his stagnant peers and the local police to look beyond the obvious when a series of schoolgirls are found murdered over 6 years. It's his investigation that eventually emanates through the next two films, "1980" and "1983", uncovering webs of police corruption and perversion. Garfield makes a convincing turn from cocky journalist to bloodied avenger, but again, it's the warmer moments that define his performance. During his investigation, Garfield comes in contact with the mother of one of the murdered girls (another actress on the rise both overseas and here, Rebecca Hall). His questioning about the young girl's death butt up against the sorrow of a mother, and it's a refreshing compromise made by both actors in the scene that plays out with real emotion instead of a rote narrative. For what its worth, Garfield is great here, but Rebecca Hall breaks my heart in this film.

I've skipped over two performances, namely the weird (what else) Terry Gilliam film "The Imaganarium of Doctor Parnassus" which finds Garfield playing the mortal dreamer in a universe of imagination. It's not a bad performance by any means, its just always hard to find the acting propensity in Gilliam's overly decorated and saturated fairy tales. The other current film in rotation for Garfield is Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go", which I'll hopefully catch later this week. Judging by the previews, Garfield gives another knockout performance.

Reading through viewer comments about "The Social Network" on several blogs these past few days, it's clear that audience enthusiasm is lagging behind critical appreciation a bit, but everyone singles out Garfield's performance. In just three years, Garfield has materialized into something special. I predict a certain gold statue in his life very soon.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Whole Lotta Reviews

The Town

Desperate to be a muscular, modern take on “Heat”, Ben Affleck’s sophomore film suffers from many of the same faults as his debut “Gone Baby Gone”…. except this time he doesn’t have the nuanced acting graces of brother Casey Affleck and Michelle Monahan. Working in the Boston crime milieu (which, by the way, is getting old reeeaaly fast), the problem with “The Town” is twofold. First, the aforementioned acting nuance is gone, replaced by over the top performances of first rate actors like Jeremy Renner and Pete Postelwaithe who emphatically carry their dialogue. By the time Affleck and Renner come to blows in front of graveyard, in broad daylight with guns blazing, my interest checked out. Secondly, the script by Affleck and fellow writers Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard attempt to create empathy for the criminals, while the inherently more calculating character of Jon Hamm (as the FBI agent tracking the crew) is treated as a bumbling key stone cop, full of taunting letters left on his car and an interrogation that plays up Affleck’s smarter-than-thou attitude. One thing can be said for “Heat”- Michael Mann understands how to create multi-faceted characters on both sides of the law. With “The Town”, I was rooting against Affleck and his crew. Even more narcissistic is the film’s stance on a believable relationship between kidnapper and victim (the beautiful Rebecca Hall who is wasted here), morphing into some kind of longing romance complete with a bittersweet Julia Roberts-like ending. All around, just a confused, terrible mess.

Spring Fever

“Sushou River”. “Purple Butterfly”. “Summer Palace”. Three straight up masterpieces from Sixth Generation filmmaker Lou Ye. While “Spring Fever” doesn’t quite reach that status, it’s still a terrifically moving revolving door of romance, both straight and gay. Hired to spy on a woman’s cheating husband, a photographer (Wei Wu) becomes involved in the relationship as well. Consistent with his other films, it takes a while to smooth into the flow of Le’s crash cutting and cavalcade of men and women, but once one gets their bearings, “Spring Fever” continually energizes and excites. Banned from filmmaking due to his smuggling of “Summer Palace” into the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago, “Spring Fever‘s” jittery, dash-and-go cinematography perfectly syncs up with the unfettered sways of emotion between his characters. And the final third of the film, when Le jettisons any real narrative thrust and focuses his camera on the lackadaisical meanderings of his three central characters as they dance, take a boat ride and wait for the inevitable, really soars.

The Social Network

I guess “The Social Network” is this year’s “The Hurt Locker” for me. Solidly made, sharply edited, well acted, but it just never really takes off. There are moments of brilliance- the score by Trent Reznor, the role of Andrew Garfield whose character actually has an arch and feeling behind the icy facade of zeitgeist that burden the others- yet these are few and far between and the film lags quite a bit in the middle.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Oliver Stone’s rich-and-powerful fairy tale sequel tosses out head-spinning phrases about hedge funds, derivatives and bail outs with an alarming frequency… at times making “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” a perfect companion piece to Alan Pakula’s great but little seen 1981 film “Rollover”. Stone’s direction is crisp and unassuming- a bit of old school mastery in an increasingly amped up world of filmmaking- and one scene that features couple Shia Lebouf and Carey Mulligan walking and talking in a single, slow zoom take is every bit as exciting as the compulsory evil turn by Michael Douglas reprising his role of Gordon Gekko. Still, while the ambitious screenplay tries to peel away the ugly veneer of just exactly how our current economy was bamboozled by inflated loans and invisible money, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is a largely dry affair. It also features an unnecessarily cute and tidy ending that doesn’t gel with the heated emotions surfaced between father (Douglas) and daughter (Mulligan in another great performance). I admire “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” more than I like it.


Yes, Ryan Reynolds is trapped in a box for the entirety of “Buried” and its 105 minute run time. Where most directors would look for ways to open up the action, director Rodrigo Cortes has the courage to stay burrowed with his confused protagonist as he makes phone calls and tries to piece together the circumstances that put him there. It’s a strong performance by Reynolds, holding the one man act together as Cortes slowly builds the tension to a finale that feels unbearable. Recently, the Alamo Drafthouse screened this film to six ‘winners’ who watched “Buried” encapsulated in a coffin, and that’s exactly the stifling atmosphere “Buried” achieves outside a coffin as well. It may be looked upon as a gimmick, but “Buried” is a very good film that deserves a reputation as extreme entertainment as well.