Tag Archives: Jake Gyllenhaal

Life (2017) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, horror scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as David Jordan
Rebecca Ferguson as Miranda North
Ryan Reynolds as Rory “Roy” Adams
Hiroyuki Sanada as Sho Murakami
Ariyon Bakare as Hugh Derry
Olga Dihovichnaya as Katerina Golovkina
Director: Daniel Espinosa

Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extra-terrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.

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Life was a movie I was curious about. This movie did seem very familiar and similar to other sci-fi horror movies, but because of the very talented cast involved, I was willing to check it out. I have to say, Life actually surprised me quite a bit. It’s nothing really that special and it is quite predictable. However, the film did carry out its story quite well, with its pretty good direction, great acting and actually some scary scenes.

The first act of the movie was rather slow and really didn’t interest me. As soon as the alien starts to attack, that’s when the movie started to really get my attention, that’s when the film really picked up. Most of the movie is fairly predictable, with the exception with something that happens at the end of the first act and the ending of the film, you can just tell what’s going to happen, though a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve seen so many of these types of movies, so we can usually tell what direction it’s going in. The film is quite effective with its scares (I’ll go into more detail later on). Overall the execution of this story is what makes this movie work so well.

This movie has a small but talented cast with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya. The characters they play aren’t really that interesting and due to the writing, there’s not much reason to care about them, aside from the fact that they are characters who are stuck in this situation. But the actors do a great job in their roles despite the lack of development in their characters.

This film is directed by Daniel Espinosa who has directed some movies which I haven’t seen but I’ve heard are ‘okay’ (Safe House, Child 44). I will say that with Life he did a really good job. This film is shot well, the CGI is used quite effectively. Direction-wise, the only issue I had was early in the movie, there is an unnecessary long take shot. These can be quite impressive but it wasn’t really needed at that moment, and it’s not even like the film featured these types of shots throughout, it was a one-off, and wasn’t needed. That’s really it though. This film handles its tension quite well, while the film does have it’s jumpscares, it wasn’t the majority of the scares, and the jumpscares never really felt forced or obnoxious. I found the most effective scares came from the alien itself. The alien itself is quite effective, the way it moved, the way it looked, the movie made it seem like an unstoppable and terrifying force. Plus, we don’t exactly know exactly what it is, the unknown element really helped with the horror.

Life is not one of the greatest sci-fi horror movies out there, it does take a lot from superior sci-fi horror movies like Alien and it is rather predictable throughout. However, if you do like these type of movies, I would recommend that you check out Life. The acting from its talented cast is good, the direction is solid but most of all, this movie is also actually scary, with a very dangerous and threatening antagonist.

Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

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nocturnal-animals

Time: 116 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual violence, offensive language & nudity
Cast:
Amy Adams as Susan Morrow
Jake Gyllenhaal as Edward Sheffield/Tony Hastings
Michael Shannon as Detective Bobby Andes
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ray Marcus
Isla Fisher as Laura Hastings
Armie Hammer as Hutton Morrow
Laura Linney as Anne Sutton
Andrea Riseborough as Alessia Holt
Michael Sheen as Carlos Holt
Director: Tom Ford

The life of a successful Los Angeles art-gallery owner’s idyllic, named Susan (Amy Adams), is marred by the constant traveling of her handsome second husband (Armie Hammer). While he is away, she is shaken by the arrival of a manuscript written by her first husband (Jake Gyllenhaal), who she has not seen in years. The manuscript tells the story of a teacher who finds a trip with his family turning into a nightmare. As Susan reads the book, it forces her to examine her past and confront some dark truths.

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Nocturnal Animals was a movie that I was curious about, mostly because of its great cast. I didn’t know a lot about the movie aside from that, but the cast and the premise was enough to intrigue me. I have to say, Nocturnal Animals is not only a great movie, it’s also one of the best movies of the year. The acting, the direction and the story was done excellently. Even if you don’t like the movie, there’s no denying how unique Nocturnal Animals is.

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This movie has a very unique structure. This movie cuts between storylines, with the present day storyline, the novel storyline and the flashbacks with Amy Adams’s character. It seems like it had the potential to become a mess but not once do any of the scenes feel out of place. There is something intriguing about this movie that had me invested from start to finish, it’s been many days since I’ve watched this movie, I’m still processing what I watched. I will say, without spoiling anything, the ending is one that might annoy some people, I myself was confused when I saw it. It is one of those endings that you need to think about for a while to understand the intent of it. I honestly want to watch this movie again, it’s one of those movies that gets better and better the more you watch it.

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The acting by everyone is absolutely superb. Amy Adams gives such a great performance, both this and Arrival shows that she really is an excellent actress. I’ll just say that her performance here is truly one of her best, and that’s saying a lot. Jake Gyllenhaal unsurprisingly is excellent, showing that he is one of the best actors working today. There are two showstealing supporting performances in thismovie. One of them is from Michael Shannon, who not only has an entertaining character to work with, but also gives one of his best performances in a while. He was so enjoyable to watch but at the same time was very compelling. The other showstealing supporting performance is surprisingly from Aaron Taylor Johnson is also great as one of the villainous characters in the novel. Aaron Taylor Johnson is for me a decent actor, but this is hands down his best performance yet, Taylor-Johnson fully embodies the character. The cast all do a fantastic job, and all deserve high praise for their work here.

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The style and overall direction by director Tom Ford is done excellently. This film is shot absolutely beautifully, it’s one of the best shot films of the year. Every scene was directed perfectly. A great example was the first scene in the novel storyline, without spoiling anything, I’ll say that it was truly unsettling and intense, and Ford’s direction executed this scene excellently. If I had to mention one problem I had with the film, it’s with the opening credit sequence, which I’ll just say, was really out of place. If you watch the movie, don’t be deterred by this though, the rest of the movie is great. The soundtrack by Abel Korzeniowski was also truly great, and added a lot to the movie.

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Nocturnal Animals surprised me, I was expecting great acting at the very least (which I did get) I didn’t expect this movie to be this investing and to be directed so greatly. While I do think you need to know what sort of film you’re getting into before watching it, I do recommend going into this movie without knowing a whole lot about it. That’s how I watched it and I really got a lot out of it, and the surprises were more impactful. I personally loved Nocturnal Animals, it is a very ambitious film that manages to succeed on mostly every angle. It’s one of the best of the year.

Prisoners (2013)

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Prisoners

Time: 153 Mins
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover
Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki
Viola Davis as Nancy Birch
Maria Bello as Grace Dover
Terrance Howard as Franklin Birch
Melissa Leo as Holly Jones
Paul Dano as Alex Jones
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), his wife Grace (Maria Bello), their teenage son Ralph and little daughter Anna celebrate Thanksgiving with their friends, Franklin Birch (Terrance Howard), his wife Nancy (Viola Davis), their teenage daughter Eliza and their little daughter Joy. After a while, the parents noticed that their youngest daughters disappeared. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the case. The only lead is an RV parked on the street the day the girls disappeared. Its driver Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is arrested but is released due to a lack of evidence. As the police pursue many leads, Keller decides to take matters into his own hands, knowing his child’s life is at stake.

 

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Prisoners is a very surprising movie, first hearing about it I expected good performances. Instead what I got were great performances, high tension and well written dialogue. There was never a moment when I predicted something would happen. The dialogue between people is already fascinating and interesting; on top of that it’s delivered by actors who can make the lines very authentic and real. A lot of the movie spends time just on the family, when they aren’t looking for their daughters. That’s something that I don’t see with most kidnapping movies, most kidnapping movies follow the police trying to find the captives or focus on family trying to find them. Prisoners has probably the best representation of a family reacting to a kidnapping. There is still quite a bit of looking for the daughters and that is done very well too but the fact that the film takes time to focus on the characters instead on the plot, makes it stand out from other kidnapping movies. The final act was very intense for me as the stakes continually rise.

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A lot of this came from the excellent performances from this movie. This is hands down the best performance I’ve seen from Hugh Jackman, even better than in X-Men and Les Miserables. He plays Keller as a desperate father who will do anything to get her daugbhter back and holds nothing back. Another great performance is from Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki. Terrance Howard, Viola Davis and Melissa Leo are also very good. Paul Dano is also worth mentioning as the role of Alex, the very disturbed driver of the RV. If there is a common thing all these performances had, they have a grounded sense of reality. The film is so well acted that I felt the emotions that these characters experienced. That is something that I don’t find very often in most movies, at least for me.

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The cinematography by Roger Deakins gives the film a dark look which adds to the dark atmosphere. It is never sunny in this movie which really suits this movie’s tone. As a result, the movie felt very dark and damp which was good for this movie. There were moments that reminded of David Fincher’s Se7en with all the grittiness and darkness. It had a sense of dread throughout the entire film and the look really sells it.

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Some people will call this movie depressing but there is no denying the skill of this movie. It’s probably not for everyone, especially for parents with young children. The film unfortunately isn’t as known as it should. The dark look of this movie, combined with the excellent acting results in a thriller that truly feels real. This is one of the most surprising movies that I have watched. I knew that this would be a good movie but it didn’t expect the expert craft of this film. This is one of the best films and surprises of 2013.