Posts Tagged ‘Jake Gyllenhaal’

An Elemental Surprise

Spiderman: Far From Home

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Cobie Smulders, Zendaya, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori

Spiderman: Homecoming 38 years old director Jon Watts returns with a sequel Spiderman: Far From Home which follows directly on from Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel so theoretically this film is strictly for Marvel fans who have been following the series of MCU films.

British rising star Tom Holland reprises his role as the geeky school kid Peter Parker aka Spiderman and this time we join him and his friends on a summer science trip to Europe taking in the best locations including Venice, Prague and Berlin.

However at the insistence of Aunt May, wonderfully played by Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) Peter Parker packs his Spiderman suit for the trip to the continent.  As predicted the moment they are in Venice enjoying the canals a mysterious elemental force wreaks havoc on the Venetian waterways and is miraculously saved by Mysterio aka Quentin Beck wonderfully played with a sly malevolence by Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain).

Naturally the impressionable Peter Parker trusts Quentin Beck with some sophisticated technology produced by Stark industries only for Mysterio to go all Donnie Darko on us.

Nick Fury played with relish by Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) enlists the help of the awkward school going kid Peter Parker to save Europe from total destruction specifically London and Venice. Spiderman must not only figure out who the real enemy is but also pluck up the courage to kiss the love of his life MJ played by Zendaya (The Greatest Showman) and trust her enough to reveal his true identity.

Humour in Spiderman: Far From Home is provided by Flash Thompson played by Guatemalan-American actor Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) who has some witty one liners and Spiderman’s father figure is played by Happy Hogan played zest by Jon Favreau (Iron Man).

What makes Spiderman: Far from Home so brilliant are the dazzling visual effects especially displayed with professional dexterity in the film’s second half. Gyllenhaal is brilliant as the crazy computer genius Quentin Beck and is a perfect foil to the charming but insatiably awkward Spiderman for the Instagram generation wonderfully acted by Tom Holland who beats Tobey Maguire in the Sam Riami trilogy and the doomed casting of Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spiderman.

In any event, the amount Disney paid Sony to use Spiderman in the Marvel Avengers cinematic universe is worth its weight in gold judging by how fill a Saturday matinee was at the theatre.

Spiderman: Far from Home gets a Film Rating of 8 out of 10 and is worth seeing for the brilliant visual effects, great onscreen chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Holland and a perfect action adventure film which will surely inspire the millennials to embrace this crazy web slinger who likes taking selfies as he flies around Manhattan skyscrapers.

Goodbye Moon, Goodbye Stars

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare

What made director Ridley Scott’s The Martian such an enjoyable film was the emotional tension between Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney stuck on Mars and the ground crew desperately trying to return him safely back to earth. This emotional tension is lacking in Safe House director Daniel Espinosa’s sci-fi thriller Life, which has an unimaginative title.

This sci fi thriller Life should not be confused with the 2015 Anton Corijn film Life about James Dean or the earlier film 1999 Eddie Murphy film also called Life. Seriously, couldn’t the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick think up a more imaginative title?

Except for the onscreen chemistry between Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins) as Dr Miranda North and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) playing Dr David Jordan on board the doomed International Space Station circling above Earth, Life relies too heavily on the storyline of Ridley Scott’s Alien film franchise without delivering any of the inherent shock value.

Life centres on a multinational group of astronauts who inexplicably bring back a living organism from Mars which is initially carefully nurtured by Hugh Derry played by Ariyon Bakare. The organism is affectionately nicknamed Calvin and only through a brief sequence shot in Time Square in New York featuring children looking forward to humanity’s future with this alien life form still supposedly being cultivated safely on the space station above our planet.

Soon things go horribly wrong as Calvin turns into a malevolent starfish which transforms into a bloodsucking slimy creature intent on destroying all humans on board the spaceship. As each of the crew members starts dying off, Life tries to keep the visual intensity going with some superb camera work yet fails to deliver an original storyline.

Set almost entirely on board the spaceship, Life is as bland as the visually impressive Morten Tyldum film Passengers. Both films just fail to engage although at least with Passengers the sexy chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence was far more palpable.

Daniel Espinosa’s Life is watchable viewing held together by a brilliant twist at the end but unfortunately the story line is nothing original even lacking in orchestrated suspense. Ultimately, Life suffers from falling under the shadow of a far more superior horror film, Ridley Scott’s 1979 smash hit Alien featuring a breath taking performance by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.

A watchable but not brilliant film, Life unfortunately succumbs to an overpopulated film genre which has been outstripped by the Alien franchise and more recently Alphonso Cuaron’s Oscar winning Gravity.

Despite the inventive camera work, Espinosa’s Life gets a rating of 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

59th BAFTA Awards

THE  59TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 19th February 2006 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: Brokeback Mountain

Best Director: Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain

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Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote

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Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal – Brokeback Mountain

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Best Supporting Actress: Thandie Newton – Crash

Rising Star Award: James McAvoy

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Best British Film: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Best Original Screenplay: Crash – Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco

Best Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain – Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry

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Best Costume Design: Memoirs of a Geisha

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Beat That My Heart Skipped directed by Jacques Audiard

Source: 59th BAFTA Awards

2015 Toronto Film Festival

2015 Toronto International

Film Festival Winners

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Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

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Opening Night Film: Demotion directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper

 

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People’s Choice Award: Room directed by Lenny Abrahamson starring Brie Larson, Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Jacob Tremblay

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Best Canadian Feature Film: Closet Monster directed by Stephen Dunn starring Connor Jessup, Isabella Rosselini, Joanne Kelly and Aaron Abrahams

Source: 2015 Toronto Film Festival

The Fabricated Image

Nightcrawler

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Director: Dan Gilroy

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, Kevin Rahm, Ann Cusack

The opening shot of Dan Gilroy’s gripping thriller Nightcrawler is of a blank bill board set against the glittering skyline of downtown Los Angeles.

The introduction of the anti-hero Lou Bloom, expertly played against type by Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain) is of a lonely scavenger in a hostile metropolis desperate to make a quick buck. Bloom is even stealing manhole covers to sell to scrap dealers. Bloom claims he is desperate for a job, any job and spends his days flicking through the multitude of local TV News channels and surfing the internet, an epitome of loneliness and desperation, an ideal sociopath.

Nightcrawler picks up the pace when Bloom drives past a horrific accident and he sees a videographer Joe Loder played by Bill Paxton filming the bloodied carnage. Loder tells Bloom that he sells the accident scene footage to any of the city’s seedier local news networks for cash. By its definition Nightcrawler is a scavenger filming the underbelly of a city as there are car accidents, housebreak-ins, plane crashes and shootings and any footage from the previous night makes the Morning News on one of the Los Angeles TV News channels.

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After pawning a stolen bike from Venice Beach, Bloom buys a camcorder and soon begins the night prowl where he is quick to pick up the art of framing an image, showcasing all the evening’s carnage to Nina Romina, a glamourous slightly ruthless news editor wonderfully played by Rene Russo (Lethal Weapon, Thor, The Thomas Crown Affair). Upon their first meeting the electricity between Bloom and Romina is electric, two amoral characters caught in a sort of dysfunctional older woman younger man relationship based on mutual infatuation and shared amoral vision of a heartless society.

The hardened Romina recognizes Blooms uncharacteristic drive, his insatiable thirst for disturbing news imagery and his ruthless lack of empathy for any of the victims involved in these awful occurrences from home invasions to traffic accidents to domestic disturbances.

Director Gilroy brother of Tony Gilroy who did the acclaimed film Michael Clayton is adept at showing the gritty underbelly of the American dream, a world where it really is each man for himself in a ruthless race to survive in the post-recession free market capitalist economy which has stripped many of these American cities of its lustre.

Los Angeles with all its film noir qualities becomes a central landscape in Nightcrawler, a dystopian inspiration for an American dream gone awry captured soon brilliantly in Paul Schrader’s The Canyons and Quentin Tarantino’s post-modern crime epic Pulp Fiction.

Nightcrawler’s intensity gains traction when Lou Bloom, ever the ruthless entrepreneur hires a desperate drifter, Richard as his assistant and co-driver, wonderfully played by Riz Ahmed from The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a needy relationship which is ripe for exploitation right till the bitter and shocking end.

What makes Nightcrawler so unique is that its theory that what viewers consume on 24 hour television news channels is a collection of fabricated images, ever reminding us that however real that Television footage looks, it’s is still constructed and edited to maximum visual effect, primarily to shock the audiences into a dull yet primordial complicity unique to human fascination.

Let’s face it, everyone loves watching an accident scene but hates actually being the victim of one. 21st century contemporary viewers of TV and film have become desensitized to carnage. As Nina Romina so brilliantly puts it:

“Think of our news broadcast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat slit”.

Gyllenhaal delivers a deadpan performance as the vile antihero, Lou Bloom, certainly one of his career bests, where above all his sociopathic tendencies he emphasizes the dangerous power and fatal attraction of loneliness exemplified in director Nicholas Winding Refn’s excellent film noir classic Drive.

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Dan Gilroy’s thriller Nightcrawler features a narcissistic, brutal and sociopathic amoral central character set in a gritty, crime ridden Los Angeles throwing up a disturbing view of contemporary American cities as being entirely devoid of emotion or community. Gilroy’s flair for cutting dialogue is influenced by Tarantino and his visual language is influenced by such luminous directors as David Lynch and Paul Schrader.

Nightcrawler is a first rate film recommended for viewers that enjoyed Drive, Mullholland Drive and Pulp Fiction with Jake Gyllenhaal giving one of his most creepiest performances in ages as the ruthless videographer and ambulance chaser Lou Bloom.

 

 

 

Trapped in Suburbia

Prisoners

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Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, David Dastmalchian

French Canadian director of Foreign language film nominee Incendies Denis Villeneuve weaves a web of intrigue in the deeply disturbing suburban thriller Prisoners extracting a brilliant performance by his two central male leads, Oscar Nominees Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) set in a wintry landscape of Pennsylvania.

Prisoners bleak story revolves around two average American families (the Dovers and the Birches) whose daughters are best friends and after a relaxing Thanksgiving lunch, the girls are playing in the street where they are snatched in mysterious circumstances. The parents of the missing girls Keller Dover and his wife Grace played by Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello and the Birches played by Terrence Howard (Dead Man Down) and Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help) are naturally beside themselves with grief and worry.

In steps the local police Detective Loki, a superb performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who goes on a desperate mission to unravel the mystery of these vanished children, uncovering a whole web of secrets in the closely knitted Pennsylvanian community. The first suspect is the shy Alex Jones, wonderfully played by Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, There will be Blood) who was parked in a RV that the abducted girls were playing on moments before they went missing, but upon questioning turns out to have a seemingly limited intelligence, covering up an even darker secret.

To complicate the investigation even further the fathers of the missing girls Keller Dover and Franklin Birch capture the scared Alex Jones soon after he is released from police custody and then start torturing him as a prisoner in an abandoned apartment convinced that he knows what happened to the little girls. Detective Loki is meanwhile hot on the trial of another suspect Bob Taylor played by David Dastmalchian, who has a penchant for buying children’s clothes at the local Valuemart.

Prisoners is a disturbing tale of how far a father will go to find his lost daughter and the also the ramifications that an abduction can have on a small town community. This is a disturbing film, slightly depressing as most of it is shot against a slate grey sky of an approaching Pennsylvania winter, but fortunately director Villeneuve has assembled a top notch cast including Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) as Alex Jones’s mysterious aunt Holly Jones.

Viewers have to concentrate in this film as the narrative drops clues all the time about who the real culprit is and as the tension mounts a disturbing twist is revealed whereby the hunter becomes the prey, an analogy first introduced in the opening shot when the ultra prepared and slightly neurotic Keller Dover, a wonderfully different performance by Hugh Jackman is teaching his teenage son Ralph how to hunt deer.

Prisoners only crime is that the riveting, yet gap filled narrative could have been more tightly written by screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski and certain scenes definitely required some crisp editing  to make the emotional resonance of the film more astounding.

Prisoners runs for 153 minutes which is fairly long for a suspense drama about child abduction in a murky and seemingly soulless American suburbia. If film goers enjoyed the Oscar winning Mystic River then Prisoners is that type of film although not as good. Disturbing, compelling and scary, Prisoners will take viewers into a maze of intrigue…

Dead Man’s Dilemma

Source Code

Fragments of Reality Exploding

Director Duncan Jones and son of Eighties Rock Icon David Bowie has expanded his horizon from his debut film Moon, a sci-fi thriller starring Sam Rockwell as multiple versions of himself, stranded on a remote space ship controlled by a omniscient computer, voiced with enviable calm by Kevin Spacey to Source Code starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga, a parallel universe thriller set in the 21st century heart of America, ever threatened by eminent terrorist attacks.

Unlike Moon, Source Code is grounded in reality, contemporary Chicago where a passenger train bound for the city centre is about to explode. Gyllenhaal plays US Army Helicopter pilot Captain Colter Stevens who is transported into another man’s body with only 8 minutes left to live and he must find a way of discovering the identity of the bomber who is on board and gets off at the station prior to the blast.

Using the framework of parallel universes, quantum physics and covert government departments, Source Code is an ingenious thriller about the effects of transporting an unwilling hero into the mind of a man eight minutes before he dies, not once but several time, opening up several different versions of a similar, yet slightly different reality. Like in Moon, the central character Colter is disconnected from the outside world not only physically but also psychologically and is being controlled by a force far greater than his own willpower.

Vera Farmiga last seen in Up in the Air makes a welcome appearance on screen as the controller Goodwin, who is faced not only with the ethics of the military experiment but the impact it will have on altering the course of the future using the deeply confused anti-hero. Colter, played by a wide eyed Gyllenhaal is predictably brilliant drawing on his previous role in Jarhead, while it is the ever surprising Jeffrey Wright as Dr Rutledge who is elegant, insidious and morally blunted by the ethical consequences of his own experiment, who only recognizes the source code’s true potential.

See Source Code not only for its varied scenarios of the same terrorist situation reminiscent of the hideous and very real Madrid train bombs that occurred in March 2003 but for the film’s ingenuous probing of the  core dilemma of using a dying man’s functioning brain in the last moments of his conscious life.

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