Movie Reviews (& Jake Gyllenhaal Rant): Nightcrawler

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Nightcrawler directed by Dan Gilroy

I usually don’t enjoy watching Jake Gyllenhaal movies. I’m a huge fan of Donnie Darko and Zodiac, and thought Source Code was pretty good. You see, Jake does well when he doesn’t try to recapture what might have been in his failed attempts at nabbing the Spider Man or Batman roles. When in the hands of a good director, he does well. When he tries box office roles as a leading man, he fails miserably (Prince of Persia, The Day after Tomorrow). He has talent, but isn’t really a likeable character in almost anything he is in. Nobody says, “Hey, are you going to see the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie this weekend?”

He is a modern day Dennis Quaid.

Does Dennis Quaid star in a bunch of films? Yep. Do they all suck? Nope. Are any of them good? A few. Does anyone consider him a star? Nope. Do people think he can act? Sometimes. You can pretty much make a checklist and start marking off boxes and you’ll see a match fairly quickly.

In other words, who do you go to when the top 7 actors you wanted turned the script down, then the next 5 actors demand too much money, then the next 3 actors choose another project or a broadway show instead?

You go with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Going into Nightcrawler, I was expecting the worst. The preview said it was one of the best pictures of the year, which I roll my eyes at everytime I hear that. Every film is the “best” at something, from the “Number One picture in America” all the way down to “The top comedy in America” (When there are two cartoon sequels, a comic book movie, and a remake that same weekend, and the film technically finished in 8th place).

What I watched was astounding. This was “good Jake” acting like an obsessed lunatic, in an anti-hero coming of age story in relation to the media business. It could be social commentary on news, or people behind the news, or an allegory for competition in America and winning at all costs. It was slow at parts, but in a good way. The director let the story breathe. The story built up to an epic third act that had me totally engrossed in the film, up until the very end. I enjoy character stories such as this, and Drive, and wish Hollywood made more of it, rather than trying to please all four quadrants of the audience chart. If they made The Godfather to please the kids, grandma, women, and all ethnic demographics instead of just making the best Italien mobster movie of all time, could you imagine the disastrous result?

This could very well have been the best movie I saw in 2015 on DVD.

Movie Rating: 10/10 Doughnut Shop Confrontations

Guest Reviewer: “Bad Jake”

You best step off your commentary on my films. What you witnessed isn’t a one and done phenomena. If you watched the entire library of Jake-G films, you’ll witness the range of his acting. Hello … did you see Jake go “Full Jake” in Brokeback Mountain? He rolled around in Bubble Boy before Games-2-U made it a modern day past time. Are you seriously going to knock his “Hot and Cold” box office tentpoles? Jake was merely exploring the duality of a futuristic Ice Age and a past age in the desert. You see, Jake saw the writing on the wall and skated to where the puck was going way before Game of Thrones jumped on this Song of Ice and Fire bandwagon. Why am I talking about myself in the third person? Well, as it turns out, I’m going undercover studying what it would be like to be a little bit nuts. It seems I’m being typecast a little bit of late, and need to do more to gain an edge on the competition. I need to go smash a house now.

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Movie Reviews: Any Given Sunday

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Any Given Sunday directed by Oliver Stone

I saw this movie when I was in High School. I had seen the previews that advertised it as the most intense movie about football ever made. I went in with my father and was blasted with the story of Willie Beamen and his coach, Tony D’Amato of the Miami Sharks. This really wasn’t I expected, despite being an Oliver Stone film. I walked out in a little dazed, to be honest.

You see, the vast majority of sport films on the professional level are a comedy of some sort: Major League, The Replacements, Bull Durham, and The Longest Yard. Many times, the team stinks at the beginning, but through a diverse group of eccentric characters they come together and overcome their obstacles to win at the end. It’s a trope, but America loves tropes.

This wasn’t that movie.

It was about the sacrifices of professional football through he lens of those coming into the league and those on the way out. It showed the limits of what people pushed themselves to in order to achieve what they wanted, on the field, in their personal lives, and professional ambitions.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite appreciate the film when I first watched it. I said, “hey, what the heck, I can’t quite believe this is pro ball because the uniforms are different.” Now, I understand the NFL is protective as hell over their brand and only allow it to be used in fake fairy tale stories. I didn’t understand the big deal about Cameron Diaz wanting to move the team. Now, shit, that has been the NFL ever since with the constant moves and threats of moves for stadium deals. I didn’t understand Al Pacino’s message, which I have come to understand wasn’t to Willie Beamen, it was to the viewer. And most of all, I didn’t understand all the fast cuts Oliver Stone used to interweave players of a bygone era. Now, I’ve come to understand and appreciate he was trying to say the players today forget the sacrifices of the mangled football player of the past who grew the sport to the moneymaking venture today.

The movie was ahead of it’s time.

I’ll argue this. If the NFL would have a allowed them to use a real NFL team, this would be considered the greatest sports movie ever made (competing with The Natural, Remember the Titans, Miracle). The casting is good. The directing is great. The story is relevant (talking about concussions 15 years before anyone else was putting the issue out front).

And it gives one of the greatest sports speeches of all time with Al Pacino’s story of fighting for inches. I feel like I want to put on a helmet and get some plays in after watching that scene each time.

Movie Rating: 7/10 Pantheon Cups

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