Buried

Worlds End End

People love a good twist ending. When it’s good, it’s The Sixth Sense. When it’s bad, it’s most of the Shyamalan films that followed. But now twists aren’t just shocking flips of plot that viewers don’t see coming. They’re also those moments where a feature defies one of Hollywood’s many conventions. These days, the courage of conviction rings sweeter than the slickly planned twist. It’s exhilarating to watch filmmakers follow their plan to the end (for good or bad), and it’s promising that they were allowed to do so and not curtailed by a system that wants things just so. (Consider the original plan for Heathers, which would’ve seen everyone die and get a happy ending in Prom Heaven.) Sometimes it’s as simple as fighting the rampant desire for a happy ending and letting characters be miserable or die, and other times it’s daring to not kill anyone at all. Every time I see the trailer for Sex Tape, I find myself hungry for the unexpected. I fear actually seeing the film because in my head, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel spend half the movie trying to stop people from seeing their sex tape, and then they realize they’re actually closet exhibitionists and don’t care. Even if completely random and absurd, that would beat barreling toward a conclusion that’s obvious from the first trailer. In the meantime, I’ll have these films (and one television show) to sate my unexpected hunger. Beware, the ends of films will be discussed and therefore spoiled.

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Red Lights is a film filled with divisive questions. After the film’s Sundance premiere, many were either wrapping their heads around the grounded supernatural thriller’s final moments or completely scoffing at it. Whether one’s reaction is good or bad towards the questions writer/director Rodrigo Cortés is posing, he still gets a reaction out of you, as shown by the film’s early reviews. For most of its running time, Cortés is not afraid of playing with audience’s expectations and perceptions of the events as they play out on screen. Unlike his previous film, Buried, most of Red Lights can’t be taken literally. The difference between ambiguity and having no answers for your film’s questions can get blurred easily, but, as Cortés told us, he wrote and crafted the film with all of his own answers in mind. Here’s what Rodrigo Cortés had to say about the story’s exploration of duality, his flawed protagonists, and how to question everything we see in Red Lights:

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If you made it through Buried without the assistance of prescription drugs and found yourself thinking afterwards, “damn, I’d love to see another thriller that involves a dude, a box, a mission, and a cell phone,” have we got a treat for you! Gabe Torres‘ Brake includes all of those elements, plus bonus water torture! Starring Stephen Dorff (between this, Somewhere, Immortals, and Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, the former heartthrob is having a real renaissance – well, let’s not count Bucky Larson) as a Secret Service agent who wakes up in a plexiglass box in the trunk of a car, Brake comes across like the bastard child of Buried and Saw. See, Dorff’s Jeremy Reins has been trapped in the box by some nefarious types (duh), who won’t let him go until he gives up some government info. And they’re not content to just trap him in the box, they’ve rigged up some real torturous treats to unleash on him as time ticks down until it’s run out. Take a deep breath and watch the trailer for Brake after, ahem, the break.

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Drinking Games

It was almost a year ago that the biggest buzz from the Sundance Film Festival was a little film about a man trapped in a coffin for 90 minutes. It showed the most promise, but it unfortunately fizzled when Lionsgate put it into release last summer. But that shouldn’t stop you from watching it. And if you’re gonna watch it, nothing should stop you from watching it with a drink in your hand. Check out Ryan Reynolds buried alive in the middle of the Iraqi desert, and raise a glass to toast your own freedom.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Another seven days of movie watching, another week of Blu-ray releases to be dissected. As we move through the back-end of awards season, it’s going to be time for all of those hot Oscar hopefuls to make their play toward cashing in on all the buzz. The benefit to you is that you’ll get to see or own most of them very soon, and you don’t even have to leave your couch. This week brings us Animal Kingdom, the still under-the-radar crime thriller from down under. It also sees the streak of Criterion continue, with two more of their films ending up in my Buy section. I’m not pandering, I promise. They are just really good at releasing films on Blu-ray. It’s almost unfair to everyone else. Except for those of us who buy their stuff, of course. All this and more is just one click away in the latest entry of This Week in Blu-ray.

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A swift kick in the pants is all you need to get your midnight juices flowing, that’s an ideal that I’ve always held to be true. If you don’t have anyone to kick you, you can always simply read Movie News After Dark. It will either get you pumped up and ready for that late-night fast food run or put you to sleep, or both simultaneously. How did he do it, you may wonder after wrapping your car around a telephone poll while stuffing your face with an extra large gordita. Run for the border my friends, it’s time for movie news…

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There are two reasons why looking at the best movie posters is fascinating. The first is the inherent interest that all advertising brings. It’s art that’s meant to sell something that can’t admit it’s trying to sell anything in order to succeed. The second is that rating the best of the best in the poster world has the most potential to showcase films that never end up on lists this time of year. This is a celebration of the beauty and effect that movie posters can have. It’s for the films released in 2010, and it’s the posters from the studios (or else Tyler Stout and Olly Moss would completely dominate). The awards are broken up into five categories in order to recognize the wide array of styles and concepts, and because there were a lot of great posters this year (among the absolutely terrible photoshop jobs that still haunt us). See if your favorite made the cut.

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It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: Normally it’s Landon Palmer hustling your brain through the mental gymnastics of popular culture and film theory, but he’s grading papers or something, so Cole Abaius is taking the reigns to drop kick your mind (instead of completely blowing it). Check back next week for the brilliance if you survive the completely adequate. It’s dark. Not the kind of dark where you strain to make out figures in the near distance or the kind of dark that sends a thrill through you in a movie theater. It’s the kind of darkness that your eyes never adjust to because there’s no light, and there never will be. I’m at the bottom of a cave near the small town of Bustamante, Mexico, and after passing graffiti from the 19th century, my friends and I have all decided to turn off our headlamps before heading into the grand hall. With the lights gone, the cool of the room becomes more tangible, and the walls begin to creep inward. Fortunately, this seems to be the latest trend in movie-making: shoving someone into the solitary confinement of life threatening danger, and seeing if they can work their way out.

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The Week That Was

Fantastic Fest. Perhaps one of the busiest times of the year here on Film School Rejects. In which we cover a bunch of films from around the world, all of which are more likely to fade into the ether before they ever make it to your local cineplex. In fact, so many of the films that we’ve reviewed (with more to come) here in Austin won’t see distribution at all. It’s sad, but true. However, that won’t deter us from covering Fantastic Fest every single year. Why? Because it’s an amazing festival — perhaps the most unique and fan-driven in the entire world — and we’ve got a passion for these movies. The best of them are more than worth the time and effort it will take for you to seek them out. Trust us, we know what we’re talking about. Especially that Rob Hunter guy… And so begins the story of The Week That Was here on FSR….

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American truck driver Paul Conroy is having what you might call a bad day. After taking a contract in Iraq delivering supplies, his convoy gets attacked and he blacks out. When he awakens, it’s a clear case of out-of-the-frying-pan-and-buried-in-a-coffin. At his immediate disposal are a lighter, a cell phone, and a limited supply of oxygen. He receives a message on the phone that he must use the phone to muster together a $5 million ransom or be left to die. A brief synopsis, but one befitting of a film like this. Buried sounds like little more than a pitch film; selling itself solely on a gimmick. But when thinking of accusing the film of taking the easy road to getting greenlit, it is vital to remember that this man-in-a-box movie is precisely that: a man in a box. The simplicity of the concept is incredibly self-limiting and presents a challenge so seemingly insurmountable that Buried had a plethora of opportunities to fail. Fortunately for the audience, director Rodrigo Cortes and star Ryan Reynolds expertly navigated this minefield.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them by now. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of August going to the local library, making phone calls to important producers and making fan trailers out of macaroni to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in September. Don’t let Machete scare you. If you watch movies, this guide’s for you.

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It’s a beautiful day in the land of movies when a Sundance favorite announces that they’ll be at Fantastic Fest amongst the diaper-wearing ninjas, the drunken monsters from outer space, and the people sewn together mandibles to glutes. Director Rodrigo Cortes and Ryan Reynolds will be in attendance of the September 23rd screening of Buried, the movie that features him buried alive inside a coffin for what might be the entire run time. However, if you can’t wait that long to see the film, the Alamo Drafthouse is sponsoring an incredibly unique screening of Buried the weekend before. How can they afford to screen it before the big Austin premiere? Because they’ll only be screening it for four people. And those four people will be buried while seeing it.

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Buried

Along with their very cool booth at Comic-Con, the folks at Lionsgate are looking to generate some heat and invoke more Hitchcock references with a new trailer for Buried, the movie that sees Ryan Reynolds buried alive for the entirety of its run time. The new trailer (seen after the jump) reveals much more of the plot, including some of the obstacles that get in between Reynolds’ character and his escape. But there’s still plenty of mystery. In my review from Sundance, I applauded the film for being “an interesting and bold piece of filmmaking.” It shows a great deal of potential in director Rodrigo Cortes. However, I was not then (nor am I now) convinced that it will catch the eye of the mainstream. This new trailer may help, but only time will tell. Check out the synopsis and trailer after the jump…

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Buried

Just as I criticize the marketing effort Lionsgate gave to Kick-Ass earlier this year, we receive a high resolution version of the new poster they’ve released for Buried. And look, it’s quite nice. Combining the artistic merits of Saul Bass with a hint to the film’s unique execution of the buried alive premise, this poster is both saying something interesting and looking pretty.

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It’s incredible. Unbelievable. Astounding. But you can see most of this new trailer with your eyes closed.

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Two Sundance flicks get their first major marketing tools: The Kids Are All Right and Buried.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Derrick Comedy member, author, and screenwriter D.C. Pierson answers the tough questions. Why would Jennifer Love Hewitt insure her breasts through Allstate?

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You’ve been on the edge of your seat wondering what movies out of Sundance you’d actually get to see. Well, now you know.

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How much does it cost to purchase Ryan Reynolds in a coffin? Apparently somewhere between three and four million dollars.

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