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Knight at the Movies: Buried; Jack Goes Boating; film note
by Richard Knight, Jr.

This article shared 6257 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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What red-blooded gay male wouldn't want the chance to spend 90 minutes alone—lying prone—with hunky movie star Ryan Reynolds? The answer seems like it would be a no-brainer but after spending said 90 minutes plus confined with the comely actor in Buried, his latest movie, I'd advise my fellow gay horndogs to return to their fantasies for a modicum of satisfaction.

The movie's not bad as these gimmicky things go—Reynolds plays Paul, a poor schlub working in Iraq who wakes up to find himself buried in a coffin with only a lighter, a cell phone and a lot of suspenseful plot developments for company. And be warned moviegoers with claustrophobia: Director Rodrigo Cortes keeps us inside that wooden box underground with Reynolds for the entire film. ( The movie, like a theme park ride, should come with a caution sign. )

Chris Sparling's screenplay, an adaptation of a Japanese version, methodically metes out the suspense along with a not-so-subtle political message. Mostly, Buried is like a modern-day Sorry, Wrong Number—with the voices on the phone becoming more cold, indifferent and huffier with Paul as his desperation increases. A lot of the movie hinges on Paul's ability to use the features on the cell phone—to upload videos and access other stuff on it—to the point where at times the picture feels like a twisted commercial for the phone.

Like other solo films in confined circumstances, it all comes down to the performance of the leading actor, and Reynolds certainly gives it the college try. He pleads, he screams, he cries, he laughs, he becomes terrified, hysterical, angry, resigned, sarcastic, depressed, feisty, crafty—you name it. The guy runs the gamut of emotions alright, but not one of them does more than bounce off you. Like every other movie in which Reynolds has tried to stretch beyond the standard issue blockbuster action character or dreamy heartthrob he excels at, his acting reach far exceeds his grasp. In keeping such close proximity with Reynolds throughout Buried, a rather sad irony becomes clear: Playing a character buried underneath the ground, he reveals that when it comes to acting he's all surface and no depth.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Oscar-winning actor for his compelling performance as gay icon Truman Capote in the film of that name, is never less than interesting on screen. Now the actor, who divides his time between complex roles on screen and with his theatre company, is making his directorial feature debut with the gentle romantic drama Jack Goes Boating.

The film is an adaptation of Robert Glaudini's play for Hoffman's acting company, and stars the actor in the title role as a shy limo driver in Manhattan who loves reggae music ( to the point where he wears dreadlocks in his hair ) and keeps mostly to himself. But a blind date with Connie ( Amy Ryan, showing restraint and vulnerability under her usual toughness ) set up by his energetic best friend, Clyde ( John Ortiz ) , awakens Jack from his cocoon. As the romance with Connie slowly builds, however, it contrasts with the increasingly troubled relationship between Clyde and Lucy ( Daphne Rubin-Vega in an expressive performance ) , which is slowly disintegrating.

Hoffman has opened the action to include a variety of offbeat urban locations, breathing some needed color into this subtle, exceedingly well-acted variation on the ordinary lives of working class, a.k.a. "the little people." The ghost of Paddy Chayefsky's Marty and The Catered Affair hovers over the movie, but the writing and Seymour Hoffman's judicious cutting avoid the sentimentality that might have dated the material. ( The jaunty reggae music also livens the film. ) And there are plenty of moments of acting fireworks on display as well. Jack Goes Boating is a well-made, tender movie that exhorts its characters to grab the simple pleasures of life before they pass one by—a message Hoffman, with this nicely shaded film, successfully imparts to his audience as well.

Film note:

—The Friday, Sept. 24, Camp Midnight screening of Valley of the Dolls with Patty Duke in person at the Music Box has had to be rescheduled due to a conflict with the Oscar-winning actress' filming schedule on a new movie. The new date and time is Saturday, Nov. 20; there are a 1 p.m. pre-show and 1:30 p.m. screening followed by a Q&A with Duke at approximately 3:30 p.m. The event will still partially benefit the Queer Film Society and ticket prices are the same—$14 in advance and $17 at the door ( if available ) . But the Music Box, in announcing the rescheduled event, has added a terrific new bonus: a block of VIP tickets for $40 that includes preferred seating in the center of the theatre, an autographed photo of Duke and access to a private reception with the actress following the screening. Only 70 VIP tickets will be available. All those with tickets purchased for the original date can reschedule or receive a refund by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006. See .

Check out my archived reviews at or . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.

This article shared 6257 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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