Jake Gyllenhaal

Film Review: Life

by Marie Carney on March 24, 2017

Life shows us how a few complacent space people can endanger our entire existence

Maybe Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) should take growing Martians more seriously.

When I first found out I was reviewing Life, I was super excited. I love big budget space movies! I love sci-fi! Then I remembered that I am terrified of aliens. Whoops. Soon the question became — will I actually be able to watch the movie without having a panic attack? Much like everything to do with this movie, that answer is unclear. I sat in my chair nervously twitching, waiting to be terrified and got my shoulder muscles knotted up, but I never had to cover my eyes and had no trouble falling asleep when I got home. It was an intense thriller, but maybe just too predictable to actually be scary. [read the whole post]

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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Ford’s newest picture well worth the wait     

West Texas ne’er-do-well Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, middle) warily answers questions from lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, l.) and crime victim Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, r.).

Tom Ford, the American fashion designer turned filmmaker who first garnered accolades for his cinematic talents back in 2009 with his Colin Firth-helmed picture A Single Man, finally returns seven years later with his follow up, another film inspired by a novel. With Nocturnal Animals, based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, Ford again both directs and writes the screenplay, and proves that his first success was no fluke. Ford’s patient fans have been rewarded for their long wait with another visually stunning, captivating picture.
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Film Review: Demolition

by Carrie Kahn on April 8, 2016

Vallée’s newest meditation on grief could finally mean Oscar for Gyllenhaal

New friends Karen (Naomi Watts) and Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves in a tense situation.

New friends Karen (Naomi Watts) and Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves in a tense situation at a function honoring Davis’s recently deceased wife.

How do we process sudden loss? Is there a right or wrong way to grieve, and how can we keep grief from overwhelming us? These are the weighty questions director Jean-Marc Vallée continues to contemplate in his somewhat uneven but emotionally arresting new picture Demolition. While not as strong as either Wild or Dallas Buyers Club, Vallée’s previous two films that explored death and grief, Demolition nonetheless is worth recommending based both on its raw and unique way of depicting the grieving process, and also on the strength of Jake Gyllenhaal’s exceptional performance as a man left shell-shocked by the unexpected death of his wife. [read the whole post]

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Film Review: Everest

by Carrie Kahn on September 18, 2015

Everest tragedy comes alive in stunningly shot, absorbing new film

A breathtaking but precarious route up Everest awaits its climbers.

Readers of a certain age may remember the spring of 1997, when the must-read, buzz generating new release was Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, his account of the tragic Mt. Everest climbing expedition from the year prior. With Everest, Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur has crafted a cinematographically stunning and emotionally powerful dramatization of the events of that climb. Basing the film not just on Krakauer’s book, but also on other published survivor accounts, screenwriters William Nicholson (Gladiator; Unbroken) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours) bring us another a heart-pounding, riveting story of both the best and worst of the human spirit.

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Film Review: Southpaw

by Chad Liffmann on July 24, 2015

Southpaw throws a flurry of clichéd punches

Melodrama make Jake —ANGRY!

Melodrama make Jake —ANGRY!

Southpaw was not what I expected. I believed and hoped that I was walking into a Rocky type fable, or maybe a modern day Raging Bull. There have been a few strong entries into the sport fighting genre in recent years, including Rocky Balboa (2006), Warrior (2011), and hopefully the upcoming Creed (2015). Sure, there are twice as many sub-par entries between the aforementioned titles, but with a superb cast headlined by limitless Jake Gyllenhaal and under the consistently solid (if not above average) direction of Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer), Southpaw seemed destined to be the strong sports drama entry that comes along every handful of years. Alas, it is not. The sure bets going into the final product still shine—Gyllenhaal is superb and Fuqua’s direction is effective—but the story is formulaic and surprisingly, subtly, unnervingly, kinda racist.

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Film Feature: Carrie’s Top 10 Films of 2014

January 1, 2015

Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2014 Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2014. Here is Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order. And you can see Chad’s list here. 1.) Boyhood Filmed intermittently over 12 years, Richard Linklater’s film chronicling a […]

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Spinning Platters Interview: Michael Peña and Natalie Martinez on “End of Watch”

September 21, 2012

End of Watch is unlike any cop movie we’ve seen before. Its distinguishing traits range from its texture — the film is shot and edited to resemble a pulse-poundingly visceral “found footage” documentary — to its thoroughly realized characterizations of LAPD officers Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Peña), thrill-chasing partners and best friends who […]

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