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Ryan Reynolds and Rodrigo Cortés Make “Buried” Come Alive

Ryan Reynolds and Rodrigo Cortés Make “Buried” Come Alive (photo)

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There were exactly seven coffins used for the making of “Buried,” each of which served a particular purpose for director Rodrigo Cortés in telling the story of Paul Conroy, a truck driver in Iraq who is left with three bars on his cell phone’s battery, a lighter, a pen and the slow trickle of sand into the wooden tomb he’s been locked inside. Each coffin inspired a different name, including the one that Cortés called “the Joker.”

“There was nothing funny about it,” a deadpan Ryan Reynolds replied at Fantastic Fest about the one that closed on all six sides that was reserved for the final day of shooting. Reynolds said he crossed the days off his calendar “like a kid waiting for summer break,” made playlists for his iPod labeled “Paul Conroy Must Die,” and waited 15 minutes after every scene for someone to free him from the box he was locked inside. Reynolds said in front of a packed house at the Paramount Theater, “It was a lot like dental surgery if the dentist went in through the penis.”

In interviews, Reynolds has had no shortage of negative quips to describe the experience of making “Buried,” which has been matched only by the plethora of positive adjectives that critics have used to describe his performance since the film first played in Sundance. As Conroy, Reynolds is able to show off his dramatic chops as well as his devilish grin every now and then as a low-level driver for a defense contractor running up against the scourge of bureaucracy within his own company, the U.S. government and even the hierarchy at home as he attempts to loose himself from the worst fate imaginable. Fantastic Fest co-founder Tim League described the film as his favorite horror film of the year in his introduction — and added, “And I see a lot of horror movies.”

The day after “Buried” premiered in Austin, Reynolds and Cortés spoke of the film’s arduous shoot, how to make one of the world’s smallest sets seem big and the dedication of four fans who watched “Buried” while buried themselves in advance of Fantastic Fest.

Usually, I start out by asking about the challenges of a movie, but since those are obvious, was there anything easy about this shoot?

Rodrigo Cortés: Working with [Ryan]. It was extremely easy, extremely easy from the very first moment. He didn’t want to see the takes. He didn’t want me to show him the storyboards. He told me, “From my nails to my hair,” he simply said, “I will give you my last drop of blood,” which I took literally. So it was amazing. It’s like a gift.

Ryan Reynolds: I have to echo that. For me, the easiest part was Rodrigo felt like he’d been living with this script for a decade and I found out, much to my disbelief, that he had only had it for a few months before we had met. Every question I had at the beginning was answered, so once we got to the physical production, I just said, “Look, I trust you. If you see something that you think sucks, just tell me. Don’t candycoat anything. Let’s just go for it. We’ll do this together. We trust each other and I’m Thelma, you’re Louise. Let’s lock pinkies and drive off the cliff together.”

RC: Oh yeah, you said that! I remember that. [laughs]

09242010_RyanReynoldsBuried3.jpgWas there a specific moment when you knew you could trust the other guy?

RR: You meet a lot of people in this industry and you get to be a character study pretty quickly, I think, and our lunch, we just kind of met each other and I just looked into his eyes and I thought, “Oh, I know this guy.” I mean, I know this guy in a sense that he’s a guy that I’ll go to war with. I would trust this guy with everything and I feel like if I’m in his capable hands, I’m going to be fine. That’s something that was pervasive throughout all of shooting.

That’s something that happens very, very rarely because he didn’t really come in with any other agenda than for this movie to be honest in these moments and not cheat and there’s a real temptation in a movie like this to cheat – to do something to alleviate this tension, to do something outside of the box, to do something that is more traditional and I just felt like I was working with this Sam Peckinpah-type gunslinger.

RC: Actually, everything started in that meeting. I mean, he didn’t even come with his entourage, the typical Hollywood shit. He came totally alone with his motorbike helmet under his elbow. That’s how it started. And it was so easy with him from the first moment and I remember he said, “I love shooting fast.” [looks suspiciously at Reynolds] You said it! And I said be careful what you wish because… [both laugh]

RR: Yeah…that’s true. I shot one other movie called “The Nines,” which was done in 19 days. This was shot in 17 days, this was the fastest I’ve ever shot.

You got to shoot “The Nines” in the comfort of writer/director John August’s house, though. Here, you’re working in Spain, which I think is one of your first shoots outside of North America. Did that add to the isolation of the character?

RR: Yeah, that sense of isolation helped. We shot in Barcelona and Barcelona’s such a beautiful city. It’s gorgeous, but I really saw none of it while I was there. We were so immersed in what we were doing. But very few people on the crew spoke English – Rodrigo, the exception, and I came there alone. I didn’t have anyone with me and it was, at the time, very difficult and that difficulty only served to help our little experiment. In the end, I look at it like the spoils of war, but at the time, I was in a minor version of hell.

Of course, being in the box poses the major challenge as an actor, but did having such a direct relationship with the camera and doing your own lighting change your approach to the role?

RR: No, it was just so intimate that you kind of forget all that stuff. You forget that you’re shooting a film and I certainly would assume that’s one of the aspects of the movie that audiences are gravitating toward is that it feels very voyeuristic. It feels like we’re watching something we shouldn’t be watching, and I feel like that when I see the movie. I think God, this is vulnerable. I’m really letting an audience in, and I suppose that’s my job, of course, but it’s easier said than done. When you actually see it, it’s a bit nervewracking because it feels like this is film that somebody stole somewhere and is now showing to audiences. That’s what [Rodrigo] created in that scenario. That soundstage was a very intimate place.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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