Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


2010 USA/Spain/Frane. Director: Rodrigo Cortés. Starring: Ryan Reynolds.

An extreme form of one-room film, with the whole thing set in a coffin buried somewhere underground. Ryan Reynolds carries the film admirably as an army contractor who gets taken hostage and buried alive with just a cell phone and a few other items, with the intention that he will get a sizeable ransom from the US government for his release. As we know, the US government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, leaving Reynolds hoping that the dispatched search and rescue team will find him before his air runs out. The film ratchets up tension admirably, keeping the audience engaged through 95 minutes of basically nothing happening except a man talking on a phone. There are nitpicks to be made, and I do wish there had been some better explanation for why he didn’t try to dig out through the obviously loose and relatively shallow dirt above him, but for the most part, it’s pretty effective as a tight-space thriller.

Netflix Instant (USA)


1997 USA. Director: Andrew Niccol. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman.

While Gattaca did not fly quite as far under the radar as The Man from Earth or Dark City, I cannot help but feel that it remains incredibly underseen and underappreciated. It is generally regarded as a strong film, to be sure, yet I would argue that it is among the greatest sci-fi films ever made. Nimbly toeing the line between the bleak and hectic Blade Runner and the philosophically draining The Man from Earth, Niccol’s universe not only feels realistic – it feels possible … if not probable. The physical presentation of the world is bleak, yes, but it is also vibrant and alive, crafting a future that is advanced, but not so advanced so as to be a distraction. This, of course, ignores the tremendous turns of Ethan Hawke and Jude Law, whose relationship is organic and beautiful. Uma Thurman is undoubtedly the weak link in the chain, but that may be as much a product of her underutilization, if not a side effect of the brilliance of most everything else.

Netflix Instant (CANADA)

Would you like to know more…?

Cinema of Trapped! The Tonal Differences between Buried and 127 Hours

Due to the proximity of the releases, I am sure that this is not the first article to compare and contrast two films that center around their protagonists being trapped for the majority of their films running time. Rodrigo Cort├ęs’ Buried (Cinecast Discussion) features Ryan Reynolds waking up in a pine coffin with a cellphone, a torch and a pen. 127 Hours (Kurt’s Review) features James Franco trapped by a boulder pinning his hand at the bottom of a narrow ravine in a Utah National Park with a video camera, a bottle of water and a multitool. In both cases the directors decide to be clever with their camera work in order (I am assuming here) that the audience not be bored from lack of movement. With the use of ever more flexible camera equipment (and the ability to film both wide and in close up in tight spaces), there is a surprising amount of movement and energy for films in such limited environments. But this is where similarities end. the two lead performances, and the two overall theses of the films are strikingly different. Buried is a cynical political screed and 127 Hours is a self-deprecating yet uplifting story of triumph and revelation. Both films are ambitious in terms of delivering genre (survival) thrills and also being about something else; ultimately though 127 Hours is ultimately far more of a crowd-pleaser despite its explicit scenes of blood and viscera. More importantly, 127 hours succeeds because it builds a human character over the course of its running time, and lets that character breathe a bit outside of the ‘here and now’ trapped situation, whereas Buried is only the here-and-now, and despite Reynolds’ heroic efforts in the acting department, is left to be little more than a cipher for the writers politics.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 186 – Happy Yummy Super Audience

Kurt makes a triumphantly verbose return to Western civilization after a week on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. With the 43rd Annual Sitges Film Festival coinciding with the trip there is much filmery to be discussed including the new Woody Allen, Zhang Yimou’s Blood Simple remake, Max Von Sydow’s seemingly advanced age in The Exorcist, dark social media experiments (no not Catfish or The Social Network, these are apocalyptic European takes on Web 2.0) and a Mads Mikkelsen time traveling thriller with The Door. Andrew sat down with some highly praised foreign fare from 2009 (including more Mads and the Oscar winning Argentinian entry, The Secret in Her Eyes) while Gamble also hits us with a sneak review of Helen Mirren shooting up cars in Red and reports on the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink camera work in a tiny box for 90 minutes with Ryan Reynolds in Buried. Playing off the Jackass 3D hype, quite the energetic discussion ensues on theater crowds and whether films are better with or without others around you. A few tangents here and there with loads of good stuff on DVD. All this and more in episode 186!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):


Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?