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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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.