I’ll spill my thoughts about the themes of Buried after Blackberry joke number 1. Three bars on a Blackberry lasts two hours? I can make my Nokia my slave with four bars and it will survive a whole day. 2. The fact that it took Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) to remember how to change the settings in a Blackberry either shows how agitated he is or that he’s poor and stupid. 3. If his kidnapper is so upset about his family’s death-by-bombing, he should be buying things other than a Blackberry and glow sticks. 4. The movie photographs Reynolds in a way that we both see the brawny adult that he is now and the buck-tooth kid he was in middle school. 5. Happy All Saints Day! End snark.
Buried‘s plot and character background unfold in slow bursts the same way that our protagonist learns and reveals information, while said information is further frustrated by the darkness that envelops him in the first few minutes and threatens throughout the rest of the film. He’s inside a wooden coffin. He finds a Blackberry set in Arabic. He tells the people he’s talking to that his name is Paul Conroy, his wife’s name is Linda (Samantha Mathis‘ voice), he’s a contracted truck driver for a fictional CRT, stationed in Baqaba, Iraq. He’s still stuck in a box.
The doodly title sequence in this film reminds me of the doodly title sequences in Almodovar films. Same graphic designer? This is the first Spanish comparison I will make in this post.
The second comparison is that like many Spanish films and Spanish horror/thriller films I’ve seen so far, Buried is also about an individual bravely challenging an undeserving authority figure yet is reliant and powerless against it. In his phone conversations, he yells and swears at his wife’s relative or friend. He calls his kidnapper a terrorist. The most interesting conversations he has is with a man from the state department. He accuses the man on the other side of the phone that the latter doesn’t care about him and makes many demands like asking to name one of the people the latter has rescued. Some have argued that Paul is a very entitled person, reminding the man from the State department that he’s an American citizen and of the urgency of his situation. He also expects his rescue to be quick, an expectation that goes hand in hand with an assumption that the department has more, better and quicker information and staff than he has. The man from the state department, in return, reminds Paul the irony that he’s also an individual with a different context and sets of information he has, just like everyone else Paul has talked to. The authority figures seem as limited in resources and capabilities, just like Paul.
The reason I bring this up is because the film touches on both claustrophobia and being buried alive, the subject inherently asking us the audience how would we behave in Paul’s situation. For some reason, already knowing the existence of this movie and the Tarantino-directed CSI episode, that I might be calmer, even more trusting than Paul. I know that freaking out and swearing at the outsourced customer service on the other side of a hotline isn’t gonna do me any good. I’m one of those people who will submissively take every passive aggressive comments or ‘we are doing everything we can to help your situation.’ It always takes me aback when somebody barks at people or does so consistently for two hours. However, I’ve never been stuck in a box.
Anyone’s opinion on the movie depends on what kind of ending they’ll like or accept in a film, whether he or she want realism or tragedy or relief. I’ll return to individualism and irony in the film’s final revelation, that the state department ends up finding someone else also buried alive whose name happens to be the one they give to Paul. His entity as an individual has been his fighting chance for others to rescue him, but the Iraqi leading the department to a ‘burial’ site has led them to the wrong American, despite his intentions. Both Paul, despite his cries for help, and the state department remember that there are others like him.
- Ryan Reynolds: “I Don’t Know if I Can Watch Myself In This Film” (bettyconfidential.com)
My childhood memories of The American President and its run on late 90’s HBO Asia was that Annette Bening as Sydney Wade is the most beautiful woman on earth, her glow of sanity here is unforgettable. Crazier roles almost made me forget, but rewatching is remembering. She cuddles to President Andrew Shephard (Michael Douglas) in the couch, the country loves her, they get all the votes they need. The perfect couple. I honestly didn’t remember how hostile the movie was.
And I don’t remember Sorkin writing the typical second act of a romance movie where the lovers are driven apart. Their differences are more political, as Shepherd’s Crime Bill conflicts with Wade’s fossil fuel bill. Let me remind you guys that this is 1995, when people still cared about the environment. Then people stopped caring, then Al Gore made people care again. The film’s a product of its left-leaning time. Another conflict within the film is how the Republican men labels Wade a ‘whore.’ How dare they! And she had red hair? And everyone else in this film has red hair?
Michael J. Fox is awesome here too. I never thought he could play an adult, but there you go. Aaron Sorkin is a great but with his characters-as-symbolic ideologies method, he’s not the best writer of TV and film. He does, however, know how to write explosive, eloquent dialogue. His America sounds more true than we think, one that doesn’t pay attention to sexual gossip of the Clinton era nor the Tea Party insanity of today. I just hope my country catches up. Also, Samantha Mathis and Anne Hathaway’s stepmother in Rachel Getting Married is in this movie.
Also, I never watched The West Wing“. I know Peggy’s in it, but I was 11. I liked stuff like Buffy and MTV. Give me a break.
Now to Fincher. I’m not the biggest fan of ubermasculinity and Fight Club is the cinematic version of a hockey bag. Yes, I’m turning down shirtless guys with that sentence. At the same time, I also resent that Project Mayhem promised so much but didn’t really happen, or that it kinda did but people turned away and instead defended the institutions that oppress them. But then again, if I ever joined a radical group like Project Mayhem, I’d cry if they took away my iPod. My whole life is in there!
I’ve had, however, fantasies about this scene, as an Asian who hates his job and secretly wants out.
Fight Club, not The Social Network, is Fincher’s most Wellesian film. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) inherits an empire and wants a newer, more radical, destructive, oppressive one of his own making. It’s liberating to blow up buildings of credit card companies, but a leader taking away individuality casts doubts. Yes, this movie was in my Imperialist Cinema class. This film also fits into my unorthodox education, corporate sculpture and bauhaus bourgeois being shoved away by performance art, performed by Project Mayhem.
And the shot composition, finding unconventional ways to light every shot, and often times there’s symmetry despite its baroque angles. And the colour, just like Se7en.
My mom has harped about how ugly Pitt is, an unfathomable concept to me until I rewatched this movie. As Tyler he’s both sexy and bruised, letting himself go as he sees fit. Speaking of Brad Pitt, this was a date movie. That’s as much as I’ll share.
Thinking this out, Fight Club might become my favourite Fincher instead of Zodiac all along. Also, I need to read Palahniuk’s book.
- Modern Maestros: David Fincher (filmexperience.blogspot.com)