Life (2017)

Life
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Cast: Ryan ReynoldsRebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dykhovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare
Seen on: 29.3.2017

Plot:
Six astronauts/scientists on the International Space Station study samples that have just been successfully collected on Mars. They hope to find out more about the conditions on Mars, but what they find instead is actually life: a single cell organism that’s either dead or dormant – but it’s there. They can barely contain their excitement, especially when their attempts to revive the organism are actually successful. But they have never encountered a live form like this – and it quickly turns out that it’s more than they bargained for.

Life is a decent, albeit derivative film that works pretty well – at least if you don’t keep comparing it with the Alien franchise it is a little sibling of.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals
Director: Tom Ford
Writer: Tom Ford
Based on: Austin Wright‘s novel Tony and Susan
Cast: Amy AdamsJake GyllenhaalMichael ShannonAaron Taylor-JohnsonIsla FisherEllie BamberArmie HammerKarl GlusmanRobert AramayoLaura LinneyAndrea RiseboroughMichael Sheen
Seen on: 29.12.2016

Plot:
Art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) receives a package in the mail. It contains the draft of her ex-husband Edward Sheffield’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) new novel and the information that he is in town and would like to meet her. Susan hasn’t spoken to him in almost 20 years and she is surprised by the novel and the meeting, but she starts to read the novel that was apparently inspired by her. It tells the story of Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal) who goes on a roadtrip with his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) and daughter India (Ellie Bamber) – a roadtrip that turns violent when they get into trouble with another car and its passengers.

Nocturnal Animals is a highly polished film that tells a story that goes under the skin. It’s definitely not a film that lets go of you easily, even if not everything about it works without a hitch.

Continue reading

Demolition (2015)

Demolition
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe
Cast: Jake GyllenhaalNaomi WattsChris CooperJudah LewisC.J. WilsonPolly DraperDebra MonkHeather Lind
Seen on: 21.6.2016

Plot:
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) thought his life was pretty good, but after his wife Julia (Heather Lind) dies in a car accident, he finds that things weren’t all what they cracked up to be: he didn’t really know Julia, and he simply overlooked all the things that weren’t right. In his grief, he writes a letter of complaint to a company filling vending machines, detailing not only that his candy got stuck in the machine, but his entire situation. The customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) who reads his letter finds herself intrigued and together with her son Chris (Judah Lewis), they starts playing no small part in Davis’ attempt to first destroy, then rebuild his life.

When I saw the trailer for Demolition for the first time, I was very much reminded of this tweet (that I can’t find anymore) where somebody wrote something along the lines of “look, it’s my favorite genre: woman dies so man can learn something about himself.” It seemed the perfect description for this film. I decided to see it despite of this, mostly because Jake Gyllenhaal can do pretty much anything. Unfortunately there really isn’t much more to this film than what you can see in the trailer.

demolition

Continue reading

Everest (2015)

Everest
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Jason Clarke, John HawkesJosh Brolin, Naoko Mori, Michael KellyMartin Henderson, Jake GyllenhaalAng Phula Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Debicki, Robin WrightVanessa Kirby, Clive Standen, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson
Seen on: 5.10.2015

Plot:
Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) thought he found his niche when he established guided tours up Mount Everest for more or less amateur climbers, but since he started, many others have followed his lead and now base camp is full with groups – one of them led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). Rob, too, brings yet another group to climb the top, among them journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), postman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), enthusiastic climber Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) and Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) who wants to complete her collection of over 8000m peaks she’s climbed. But the group encounters more than one problem.

I’m not a mountain person. I don’t even understand skiing as a pastime, something people do voluntarily (and I’m fucking Austrian). So the concept of climbing Mount Everest is utterly alien to me. I understand it even less after having seen this film.

Everest Continue reading

Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, 50 Cent, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Miguel Gomez
Seen on: 2.9.2015

Plot:
Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes from a poor background and out of the foster system, but he has literally fought his way into a good life: he’s a successful boxer, happily married to Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and has a charming daughter in Leila (Oona Laurence). But everything changes when Maureen is shot. Billy falls apart and with him, everything he has fought for: he is banned from fighting, his daughter is given into foster care, he can’t pay his taxes and loses his home. So he has to start from scratch, looking to trainer Tick (Forest Whitaker) for help to get back on his feet, and most importantly to get his daughter home.

Southpaw doesn’t really tell a revolutionary story, but it tells it well. The cast is unsurprisingly excellent and the race angle is surprisingly not awful, so that’s definitely something.

Southpaw Continue reading

Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jake GyllenhaalBill PaxtonRene RussoRiz Ahmed

Plot:
Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is smart and hungry for success. All he needs is an in to make his luck. When he witnesses a traffic accident being filmed by a freelance news crew headed by Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), Lou is convinced he has finally found the way to make a whole lot of money. He gets a camera and a police scanner and sets off to capture the perfect image. But with the first success comes the hunger for more and the necessity to blur lines to get everything he wants as quickly as he wants it.

Nightcrawler not only has the amazing Jake Gyllenhaal, but also a smart, insightful script and perfect pacing. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

nightcrawler

 

Continue reading

Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Dylan Minnette, Zoe Borde

Plot:
It’s Thanksgiving and the Dovers are celebrating with their friends and neighbors, the Birchs. But when the little daughters of both families suddenly disappear, the festivities are quickly interrupted. As Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is called, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) quickly loses his temper. And when suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is apprehended to be released soon afterwards, Keller decides to take justice into his own hands.

Prisoners has a rather similar theme as Big Bad Wolves, so it’s hard not to compare the two and in that comparison, Prisoners stays a bit behind – but that’s just because Big Bad Wolves was that exceptional. Prisoners is, in fact, a really good movie.

prisoners

Continue reading

End of Watch (2012)

End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, America Ferrara, Cody Horn

Plot:
Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Peña) are LA cops and have been partners and best friends for quite a while. Brian started to take a film class for which he films his daily routine. It consists mostly of gang shootings and drugs. But when they stumble upon a case of human trafficking, they really start to get in the way of the wrong people, namely the Mexican cartel. When Brian and Mike won’t back down, instead keep on making names for themselves, things get even hotter for the two of them.

I really thought that End of Watch would be better than it was. But the plot is all over the place, the format is an ill fit and I just was bored most of the time.

end_of_watch

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Source Code (2011)

Source Code is the newest film by Duncan Jones, written by Ben Ripley and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan and Jeffrey Wright.

Plot:
Colter (Jake Gyllenhaal) keeps waking up in a strange body on a train, 8 minutes before said train explodes. He is sent there by Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and her boss Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) to figure out who bombed the train. But at first it seems that the most success Colter is going to have is with fellow train passenger Christina (Michelle Monaghan). But as he gets more confident with his task, we also discover that there’s probably more behind the project than we thought at first.

I loved Source Code – up until the last 10 minutes or so. Everything was going so very well up until then: the plot had me hooked, the performances were great and the premise (while admittedly a bit ludicrous) worked. And then the ending just had me headdesking.

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Love and Other Drugs is the newest movie by Edward Zwick based on Jamie Reidy‘s book, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt and Hank Azaria.

Plot:
Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) starts a job as a pharma representative for Pfizer in the 90s. He’s stuck selling Zoloft (or trying to) somewhere in Ohio and is just waiting for a chance to make it big and get away. But then he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), who suffers from early onset Parkinson’s and falls in love with her. When he then gets to sell Viagra, life seems to be perfect.

Love and Other Drugs is a nice film with great leads but it stays surprisingly hollow. It remains a film of missed potential.

Continue reading