Movie Roundup is where I give quick impressions on a bunch of films. You might find a movie that catches your curiosity. Or maybe there’ll be a film to avoid, which means I watched a terrible movie so you wouldn’t have to!
I’m really liking Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie choices lately, especially over the last five years. Even though I generally like commercial movies, I’m glad he’s not doing stuff like the disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow or the video game based movie Prince of Persia anymore (I had little interest in watching those). In his more recent stuff, you can see he’s shifted to this whole other gear as an actor. What’s your favorite Jake Gyllenhaal performance or movie?
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Miguel Gomez
In a role originally written for Eminem, Jake Gyllenhaal’s raw, bloodied and bruised performance as fictional boxer Billy Hope is the best reason to catch this flick. Screenwriter Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Bastard Executioner) describes his own strength as a writer is finding the emotional drama in violent, tortured lives. While Hope’s life is violent and tortured, the movie as a whole left me emotionally numb. I wasn’t all that invested in Hope’s tribulations and it wasn’t because of Gyllenhaal or director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) as both did their job well. I chalk it up to the run of the mill script. I couldn’t completely buy into the movie because the story beats were too familiar and I knew how it was going to end. Also, the father daughter relationship wasn’t fleshed out enough. This isn’t to say Southpaw is bad, it’s actually a decent, very watchable movie. Just don’t expect it to pack a deep emotional punch or bring something new to the boxing genre.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon
This slow burning, psychological thriller begins with the quote “Chaos is order yet undeciphered”. If taken literally, Enemy’s story about a history teacher (Jake Gyllenhaal) who discovers he has a doppelganger is confounding. Director Villeneuve said this movie deals with the subconscious, so from that viewpoint I see Enemy is an abstract or conceptual expression of a man’s duplicity. Gyllenhaal’s duo performances are solid, giving both of his characters subtle yet noticeable differences. The cinematography of the city skyline is strangely beautiful. Smoggy camera filters give a dreary, oppressive feel. Cryptic, unearthly, and deliberately paced, Enemy is a very different movie from Villeneuve’s underrated Prisoners but one that hardcore cinephiles shouldn’t think twice about putting on their movie watch list.
Enemy At The Gates
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Cast: Jude Law, Jospeh Fiennes, Rachel Wiesz, Ed Harris, Ron Perlman
After American Sniper hit theaters, the follow up movie that was highly recommended to me was 2001’s Enemy At The Gates. Now having watched it, I can say the only thing these two movies have in common is that the protagonist is a sniper. While not a product of Hollywood, Enemy At The Gates falls into the trappings of a Hollywoodized war movie. Most of the story about real-life Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev (Jude Law) at the Battle of Stalingrad is either inaccurate or clearly fictional for the purposes of entertainment. A shoehorned love story is most out-of-place during an awkward, cringe-worthy love scene. Still, Vasily resonates as a product of war propaganda and genuine hero for his nation. The strongest aspect is fortunately the focus of this movie: a riveting cat and mouse sniper duel that takes place over several days.
Director: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely brilliant as Lou Bloom, an opportunistic street vulture who sells sensationalistic crime and accident videos to the local TV station. First off, Gyllenhaal’s physical embodiment of Lou Bloom, a gaunt creepy man, is even more remarkable when you consider in his next role he played a buffed up boxer. But it’s not just the physical transformation, you get lost in his skin crawling performance and forget he’s the same actor I’ve seen in many other movies. When so many movies nowadays are remakes or adaptations, it’s great to see an original screenplay which took the core idea, which is compelling in itself, and kept escalating the stakes; thoroughly exploring it’s concepts and takes turns that are well-thought out. I made peace with the ending because Nightcrawler isn’t a morality tale but this movie does say something unsettling about the culture we live in.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought of these movies and/or what you think of Movie Roundup as an on-going feature.