Hope for Hollywood-
December 19th, 1980
Jake Gyllenhaal is an interesting figure. He has been in quite a few good films, but has managed to be off-putting at times which hurts the film. However, in the last couple of years he has risen into a big name in Hollywood with plenty of options.
His debut was playing Danny Robbins who was Mitch Robbin’s (Billy Crystal) son in City Slickers (1991). Don’t watch this movie because of Gyllenhaal, but rather watch it because it’s a quality comedy starring Billy Crystal.
October Sky (1999)- This movie put Gyllenhaal on the movie star map of young Hollywood. He played the lead as Homer Hickam. The movie is about a young man with a dream of building rockets (the kind you launch into space for exploration) and relationship with his estranged father. He has several levels and a talented cast including Gyllenhaal.
Donnie Darko (2001)- This was when Gyllenhaal shined and yet the movie struggled. This movie was a box-office flop, but slowly developed into a cult classic. The first few times I viewed this movie, I hated it. I thought it was illogical, boring, and filled with whiny teen angst. Then something happened, because I started watching more movies and went back to watch it again. That last time, I started seeing positives about the film. It has some very heavy concepts being explored. I still consider it filled with teen angst and surrealism, but I don’t hate the movie like I once did. If you hated this movie too, then give it another chance. I’m not saying it will change your mind, but it may.
Lovely and Amazing (2001) This Dramedy (Comedy-Drama) movie is about the dynamics between a mother and her three eccentric daughters. The daughters are trying to find themselves in this big wild world and all the while stay connected to their mother. Gyllenhaal doesn’t wow, but he doesn’t ruin the movie either.
The Good Girl (2002)- I didn’t really care for this movie. Now that I think of it I don’t like too many Jennifer Aniston comedies. If someone called me a real-life Holden Caulfield, we may just have a problem. (Them fightin words.) Aside from Gyllenhaal and Aniston, the movie features John C. Reilly and Zooey Deschanel as well. I wouldn’t call this movie awful, but it wasn’t for me and wasn’t as funny as it could have been.
Highway (2002)- This movie borders on bad and acceptable. The acting of Gyllenhaal and Jared Leto is fine, but the story gets jumbled. You know, the classic story of boy meets girl, girl has another boy, first boy discovers the affair with the second, sends mercenaries to teach a lesson. They flee to Seattle and it goes on like that. Overall, I think you can pass on this film.
Moonlight Mile (2002) This Romance features Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Susan Sarandon. If you are a person who likes a romantic movie. This movie is good. If you are like me and not a huge fan of romantic movies, you can pass on it. Everyone in the movie does a good job. From a film basis, it’s slightly above average. I will admit that I enjoy the ideas presented in this movie. To face tragedy as an opportunity for change and self-improvement.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
A lot of people really hate this film, but I don’t. Yes, it’s fear mongering and outlandish to the extreme, but it’s just a fun disaster picture to me. Take away the silliness of the movie and shut off your brain. You get a decent (End of Times) type movie. Besides, not like the movie is completely wrong. Climate change can have drastic effects on our land. (Though I don‘t think wolves will run amok in New York City immediately or the Statue of Liberty will be frozen in a lake or something.) It was Hollywood mind melting shenanigans complete with plenty of special effects.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)- Alright, from an acting standpoint. This movie starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal is very good. However, I didn’t like the characters or the story overall. I couldn’t relate to these two cowboys and found the story was slow and meandering. In fact, I loathed Gyllenhaal’s character (Jack Twist) in this movie. He was whiny, over emotional, and often a jerk (a real delta-bravo on multiple occasions). I think exploring the LGBT fight for equality and what some unfortunately must endure is important to show mainstream America. This movie came out during a very volatile time where the same-sex debate was just picking up momentum which has carried it to quite a few recent success stories. The movie itself however, not one I enjoy. I respect the actors for their work, but fall asleep just thinking about the story.
Proof (2005) Starring Gyllenhaal, Gweneth Paltrow, and Anthony Hopkins. This movie is good (like most Hopkins films), it discusses the various issues that can occur after someone dies. We all have the grief, but there are so many unfinished goals and problems left behind that loved ones need to deal with. This is an example of an unusual situation of a father who is both insane and a genius who passes away and what his daughter has to deal with after his death. It’s a solid movie with a great cast.
Jarhead (2005) If you’ve been reading my posts so far, then you likely already know that I have a strong distaste for war films. I especially dislike war films that try to portray war as glorious or truly heroic. From my study of history I’ve seen and read enough about war atrocities and combat to know the horrors of war are unimaginable. It is gruesome and terrible in every meaning of the word. As far as war films go however, this is a decent one.
Zodiac (2007)- If you enjoy a solid Crime/Mystery movie then this is perfect. Breaking down the Zodiac killer through the eyes of a cartoonist turned into detective. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr and Gyllenhaal.
Rendition (2007) Starring Reese Witherspoon along with Gyllenhaal, this Drama/Thriller asks tough ethical questions about interrogations techniques used by the CIA. It’s a movie that questions whether the ends justify the means. Gyllenhaal does quality work in it, but not his best.
Brothers (2009)- this movie is rather awkward. About a man comforting his older brothers wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan. Starring Natalie Portman, Tobey Mcguire, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Prince of Persia : Sands of Time (2010)- I don’t get why it is so hard to make a good movie inspired by a video game. This movie is decent, among the better video game inspired movies out there. Jake Gyllenhaal does acceptable work as Dastan. The movie overall still isn’t that special, but it’s alright if you just need something to pass the time. Nothing inspiring.
Love and Other Drugs (2010) An average romantic comedy starring Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, and Hank Azaria. I will say that while the film has its flaws, I do think it creates the feel of the 1990’s in America very well and the rise of the drug dependency.
Source Code (2011) This movie is unimpressive to me despite some very popular reviews. I think the concept is interesting, the mystery and thrill of it is engaging and Gyllenhaal does a solid job acting in it too. I guess I just don’t care about the characters and I loathe some of them. Again, debating the issue of ends justifying the means. Scientists doing something awful to try and eventually do something great. I think it is worth watching and making a judgment call for yourself. I didn’t care for it, maybe you will.
End of Watch (2011) Starring Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, and Anna Kendrick. This is documentary styled Crime/Drama/Thriller involving two cops coming up against criminals far above their level. A few times during this movie I laughed a few times while watching this movie because while the action was good, I couldn’t imagine certain scenarios ending as they did in the real world. Think of it as a nice Fast and Furious film except with cops and criminals instead of crazy car stunts and street races.
Prisoners (2013) This is a great Crime film that is rather unsettling throughout. About two missing girls and a fathers mission to rescue them. Jake Gyllenhaal gives among his best performances of his career. Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard are also very good. Very gritty film with lots of unpleasantness all around. I don’t like Crime films all that much, but I respect this one a great deal.
Enemy (2013) interesting movie. About a man searching for his exact look-alike after spotting him at the movies. I haven’t seen this one, but it seems interesting and I’ll look for it.
Nightcrawler (2014)- I would argue that this is best performance ever and among his best overall movies too. Gyllenhaal transforms himself into this off-kilter character who slowly goes down the road of a sociopath. It’s creepy as can be and Gyllenhaal does excellent work. To see what he started and where he is now is a marvelous sight. I can’t wait to see what is in store for his future.
Southpaw (2015)- a boxer fights his way to the top only to find his life is falling apart around him.
Everest (2015) Starring Keira Knightly and Jake Gyllenhaal. About a group of mountain climbers trying to reach the peak of Mt. Everest only to cross paths with a fierce snowstorm.
Demolition (2015/????)- Investment banker struggling with his emotional disconnection after the tragic death of his wife which is tearing his life apart.
The Man Who Made it Snow (????)- About a Jewish hotel engineer who transforms a small time drug operation into a massive cartel.
Flops, Sleepers, and Stinkers
Every actor has a few bad movies. The key is to limit them.
A Dangerous Woman (1993)- I wouldn’t say this is an atrocious movie and the fact that he works with his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal is pretty neat. Still, this one isn’t going to be remembered for much else.
Josh and S.A.M. (1993) I remember seeing commercials for this as a kid. Oh man, the kid version of me was mildly interested in this film. The adult version of me was far from it. Stay away…stay far away.
Homegrown (1998)- It is truly amazing how many comedies are made nearly devoid of all humor. Astounding.
Bubble Boy (2001)-I can not come up with the words to tell you how bad this movie is. Soooooooo very bad. I weep for you if you were ever dragged to watch this film.
Accidental Love (2015)- Gyllenhaal had enough hits. Time for a failure and that it is.