Showing posts with label jake gyllenhaal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jake gyllenhaal. Show all posts

Monday, April 11, 2016

Demolition (2016) can't fix its own foundation

Photo Credit: Demolition / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Workaholic Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) struggles to express his grief after his wife dies from a tremendous car accident. Unlike his in-laws, or his own parents, even co-workers, Mitchell just can't connect with his loss. Suppressing his pain seems to be the immediate answer. He throws himself into work and then is caught up in a friendship with a customer service agent Karen (Naomi Watts) he started writing letters to when the vending machine at the hospital didn't work.

In 2014 director Jean-Marc Vallée's exquisitely adapted author Cheryl Strayed's Wild to explore the weight of her mother's death as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Just two years later with a similar premise, Demolition is simply a weaker version of its predecessor.

Vallée's second take on bereavement focuses on a protagonist realizing the cage he felt trapped by in his marriage - almost like he wouldn't realize how much his life was in shambles until she was gone.

Mitchell and Karen's connection breaks open up an honesty about why he doesn't handle his spouse's death like the people around him. Did he really love her, or did his life just fall into place without conviction on his end? Nuisances he didn't pay attention to like a leaking refrigerator slowly explodes into him taking down entire houses. It's a subtle exploration of his own psyche to take life apart and put it back together.

However, Mitchell's escapades resonate from shock or denial at first. Weirdly, as Mitchell blasts and bulldozes his way forward, sympathy for him loses its steam. Julia simply doesn't have any layers to her as his wife - the center of his turmoil. She is merely a ghostly backdrop, and eventually, becomes one big cliche. Halfway through the film, knocking down everything in his path becomes repetitive rather than having something profound to say.

To his credit, Vallée knows how to design an incredible atmosphere. He splendidly uses music to explore Mitchell's gradually intense memories he can't let go of. Cinematography and editing by Yves Bélanger and Jay M. Glen, respectively, is vivid and polished. All three make the film extraordinarily smooth. And, Jake Gyllenhaal delivers another memorable performance. So does other established cast like Chris Cooper, Naomi Watts, and the blazing introduction of Judah Lewis. However, for all the emotional and physical dis-assembly Mitchell undergoes, the film has glaring cracks in the foundation that can't be fixed.

Rating: ★☆☆
Have you seen Demolition? What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jake Gyllenhaal's Climb to Leading Man Material

photograph by Dove Shore
Every six months or so it seems a title of Best Leading Man Ever is passed around. Cleverly, the media tries to distract us into thinking there is only one actor who has ever earned the blue ribbon of being leading man material. But really stardom is a cycle: One month it's George Clooney, the next it's Brad Pitt, or Ben Affleck or Matthew McConaughey, and onwards.

Though the media tries to convince us, there's hardly ever just one man in the limelight, behind the curtain, or capable of having it all. One actor comes to mind who has recently popped up on everyone's radar, and has utilized his nearly lifelong recognition in film with attentive creativity and ambition. That guy, which comes to mind, is Jake Gyllenhaal.

For such a mildly young talent (34 years old), it's difficult to remember that he has been tagged with fame since he was eleven years old. And yet his career has garnered just about the right amount of everything it takes to be successful in Hollywood without becoming a warning label of toxic fame for young Hollywood. His climb to leading man material earnestly means that for as far as his career has taken him so far, he always seems on the cusp of re-inventing himself as a starring actor.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler movie review
Photo Credit: Nightcrawler / Open Road Films
Blood sells in the world of the evening news, and at the foothills of Los Angeles, the sharks come out at night. Known as stringers or nightcrawlers, are videogoers; men and women who chase tragedy and package their footage of roadside crashes and neighborhood crimes to television stations.

One shark hungry for the entrepreneurial life is Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a desperate but ambitious young man who finds his calling in the supply and demand of voyeurism and violence. From thief to cameraman, Bloom studiously climbs his way up the ladder of a local station selling footage he captures of car accidents and jackings and robberies. Eventually a triple-homicide is a make-or-break venture that threatens to his video gathering production out of the water.

But Bloom isn't like other cutthroat videogoers converting tragedy into dollar-sign motivated adrenaline rushes. He's a shell of a person cashing in on bloodshed like a normal person orders a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Nothing startles him. His hand is always steady on the cam ready to cash in on the next tragedy and his mind is already onto the next crime scene. Nobody gets in the way of his brass ring.

With the rise of technology and how it permeates our lives to create fame monsters, out of nothing (the Kardashians) to stealing (The Bling Ring crew), is vastly becoming a favorite subject in film. Even with the gadgets used in the movie are a bit dated, it serves to entrap us into ravenous quest of what's sellable in evening news. Like it's predecessors that question how we approach the separation of what is being created in social media, on the news, and entertainment industry, Nightcrawler takes us on a real high-stakes job of feeding what society craves for - if it bleeds, it leads.

Produced by longtime writer, and now first-feature film director, Dan Gilroy doesn't as much impose a heavy-handed question of what type of world creates a person like Lou. Instead it presents a person like Lou who is moralistically removed from his job to chase what the news or entertainment world is asking of, what he's more than willing to fulfill, and the bargaining chips he systematically puts into place to keep the upper-hand on the streets and in business. The movie asks where the line is drawn in pursuit of ratings and media clips or stories we can't turn away from.

As a ghoulish and gaunt protagonist, Bloom is one of the scariest sweet-talkers of cinema; a parrot reciting entrepreneurial mantras with chilling and enigmatic persuasion. By day, he waters his plants and merely waits for the sun to set. Then he comes alive speeding through the sprawling city streets and freeways to be the first at a crime scene. Void of empathy, he who reels and deals in mayhem and is always hungry for taking more.

A performance like this may usually be considered as a cliche sociopath stereotype we can spot from a mile away, but Gyllenhaal doesn't give a typical performance. Instead it's the refreshing praise-worthy work of an actor who gives enough to display his range without going overboard and seeing the methodology of his performance. Over the past few years, the ever-changing actor has been consistently changing his role choices, and this time around he seems to slip into Bloom so easily, it's hard to recognize the actor of long ago.

Nightcrawler is the type of movie where it's easy to get carried away on the idea of its plot or a singular performance, and wonder if it's really the film you're excited about. Gilroy's flick is dramatic, action-packed, and refreshing. Nearly flawless in its performance by Gyllenhaal and his co-stars, the films' social commentary on the complicit nature of sensationalizing humanity's barbaric side subtly hooks you. From car chases to winded monologues, and Bloom's double-sided nature, we are taken on a gripping thrill ride and are also reminded of that gruesome cultural exploitation we all participate in.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Nightcrawler? What did you think?