Tag Archive: Jake Gyllenhaal


Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether or not every element of the new Paramount+ series The Offer is based in reality just doesn’t matter.  Fifty years ago Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather premiered in theaters across America and it’s maintained its status as one of cinema’s best films.  Viewers want all the crazy legends behind its creation to be real, including Frank Sinatra getting into a public argument with author Mario Puzo, and the mob getting irked by its very existence.  When you have to choose between legend and history in storytelling, give audiences whatever makes the better story.  And the story from the view of The Godfather producer Albert S. Ruddy is like reading the exploits of gangster Jimmy Alo in Dylan Struzan’s book A Bloody Business (reviewed here).  When an old bird is telling fish tales from decades ago–and he’s good at it–you just let him go (the character of Johnny Ola in The Godfather, Part II is based on Alo, so the comparison has some credence).  Only this limited television series has the kind of result that makes you wish it were a movie.  As peeks into Hollywood go, the acting, writing, direction, and production values are exactly as the streaming provider has been promising in its months long advance marketing.

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Has Jake Gyllenhaal ever steered us wrong?  Whether it’s as a confused teenager in Donnie Darko, a cartoonist-turned-detective in Zodiac, a stuck-out-of-time soldier in Source Code, or a scheming villain in Spider-Man: Far from Home, Gyllenhaal delivers good performances in exciting movies.  With ten other movies in the works, this week he stars in director Michael Bay’s next explosion-filled, wall-to-wall action picture, AmbulanceAnd what a title.  That’s up there with Skyscraper, Contagion, Earthquake, Towering Inferno, and Airport.  Except it’s a heist movie, so closer in concept to The Bank Job and The Italian Job, with a twist of Denzel Washington’s John Q. 

Take a look at the movie trailer below for Ambulance

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Fifty years ago this week The Godfather premiered in theaters across America.  That fiftieth anniversary is netting more than one re-creation from Hollywood of the making of that movie.  Barry Levinson is directing Francis and The Godfather, a movie starring Oscar Isaac as The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola facing off against Jake Gyllenhaal as producer Robert Evans (an actor who eventually produced Chinatown), with Elle Fanning as Ali MacGraw, and Elisabeth Moss as Eleanor Coppola.  It began filming last year, so expect it in theaters or streaming by year end.

Before that arrives, a limited series that is also about the making of The Godfather is heading to streaming service Paramount+ next month.  The Offer has an impressive cast, all seemingly well cast against their real-life counterparts.  Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts) plays Coppola, Matthew Goode (Watchmen) plays Evans, and Miles Teller (Fantastic Four, Top Gun: Maverick) plays producer Albert S. Ruddy.

Here is the trailer for The Offer:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As with the first three books in Abrams’ Cinemagic book series, The Moviemaking Magic of Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man blends filmmaking techniques with its key franchise star.  Author Eleni Roussos combines a quickstart education in filmmaking, applied to Spider-Man’s MCU movies as the latest Spidey sequel, Spider-Man: No Way Home, is released internationally.  If you love concept art, props and costumes, and all things Spider-Man, you won’t want to miss this.

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It’s one of the greatest films ever made, a primer for creating the ultimate sci-fi and coming of age story.  Its sprawling opening scene features “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears, which sets the tone for the everywhere/every kid world view of the young star of the story, simply one of the best efforts by a director to incorporate a popular song into the fabric of a film.  25-year-old actor Drew Barrymore financed the film and served as executive producer, while creating one of the best versions of a (cool) school teacher to ever hit the screen.  And it was a springboard for Jake Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone’s careers and features the likes of Katharine Ross, Mary McDonnell, Noah Wyle, and Patrick Swayze, with a memorable villain played by Beth Grant.  The film is of course Donnie Darko, and it’s finally getting a deluxe edition worthy of director Richard Kelly’s movie masterpiece.  For its 20th anniversary the director and cinematographer Steven Poster oversaw a new 4K resolution restoration from the original negatives for the Donnie Darko Limited Edition UHD The two-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray box set contains the theatrical and director’s cut with the new 4K versions, plus some good Donnie Darko swag.

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Bueller?  Bueller?

If you think about it, who would have taken better advantage of staying home from school during a pandemic than Ferris Bueller?  (That’s some pretty good social distancing in the above museum image).  In advance of its 35th anniversary next year, the cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of many groups that have reunited for fans in such an unprecedented way this summer in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These great panel discussion events are a good start at sharing some positive vibes right when everyone needs it.  It’s like a year long comic-con.  This Ferris reunion definitely belongs on the top shelf of what not to miss.  This event was part of Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart videos.  The upbeat actor hosts Ferris himself, Matthew Broderick, along with co-stars Alan Ruck (Cameron) with great COVID hair, Mia Sara (Sloane), Jennifer Grey (Jeanie), Cindy Pickett (Mom), Lyman Ward (Dad), and some charming bits from Ben Stein (Ferris’s econ teacher).

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When we created last year’s preview of 2019 movies we were pretty sure we were going to have some great movies this year, but we were surprised by what ended up being the best.  All year we tried to keep up with what Hollywood had to offer and homed in on the genre content we thought was worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our annual picks in our Best Movies of 2019.

GenredomAs always, we’re after the best genre content of the year–with our top categories from the Best in Movies.  There are thousands of other places that cover plain vanilla dramas and the rest of the film world, but here we’re looking for movies we want to watch.  What do all of this year’s selections have in common?  In addition to those elements that define each part of genredom, each has a good story.  Special effects without a good story is not good entertainment, and we saw plenty of films this year that missed that crucial element.

Come back later this month for our print media picks, and our annual borg Hall of Fame inductees.  And if you missed it, check out our Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2019 here.  Wait no further, here are our movie picks for 2019:

Best Film, Best Superhero Movie, Best Re-Imagining on Film Shazam! (Warner Bros.).  Movies are supposed to be a wonder, right?  What brought the magic of the movies back to theaters more than Shazam?  Why did DC take so long to adapt a superhero to the scene perfectly?  Who cares–they finally did it.  Faithful to the character from the #1 selling superhero book of the 1940s, this was the superhero movie many of us have been waiting for for the past 50 years (or more).  Full of superhero fun, one of the best training montages ever, Zachary Levi’s boyish hero was perfectly matched to Jack Dylan Grazer’s take on best pal Freddy.  It’s also the only superhero movie we can think of that got better as it went along, culminating in a fantastic, satisfying third act and finale.  This is what we want more of.  And it was the first DC superhero movie of the millennium that could be watched and enjoyed by the entire family.  Honorable mention: Glass (Universal), Spider-Man: Far From Home (Sony Pictures).

Best Fantasy Movie, Best Adventure Movie, Best Comedy MovieJumanji: The Next Level (Columbia Pictures).  The only issue with this film was that its status as a sequel will prompt some to not recognize it for the gigantic success it truly is.  With adventure scenes bigger and better than anything in the entire Indiana Jones franchise, two movies in and director Jake Kasdan proved a sequel can actually be as good as the original.  The four stars didn’t miss a beat, swapping roles and adding new laughs, and the new characters inside and outside the game were perfectly spliced in to tell a new tale.  The bridge crossing scene is now the adventure film scene to beat.  An epic fantasy that’s loads of fun.  Honorable mention for Best Fantasy Movie: Shazam! (Disney/Marvel), Captain Marvel (Disney/Marvel).

Best Movie Borg, Best Borg Film – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Carl, Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount Pictures).  It would have been almost impossible for James Cameron and director Tim Miller not to get this right, a new thread through time reuniting Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor and a new T-800 with Arnold back with another take on his greatest borg of all time.  New characters and new effects kept the franchise from getting boring, but this was more than just getting by, a big sci-fi spectacle with great cyborg battles, and easily the best cyborg fix this year.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the new Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Tom Holland′s Peter Parker is trying to recover from the death of mentor Tony Stark in the final scenes of Avengers: Endgame.  He’s trying to take a break from literally saving the planet by going on a summer trip with his classmates to Paris.  And he’s trying to let Zendaya′s MJ know that he cares about her.  So it’s too bad Samuel L. Jackson′s Nick Fury is trying to get his help as the only Avenger available to take out a new inter-dimensional threat–a threat from world-destroying giants called The Elementals.  Spider-Man: Far From Home, which opened in theaters nationwide this weekend, is Holland’s fifth outing as Peter Parker, after Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, and Spidey fans will be happy.  Holland continues to give the best performances of any actor to don a Spidey suit (he wears a few new great versions in this film thanks to designer Anna B.  Sheppard).  He’s also as established in the MCU as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine–Holland is Spider-Man.

But the supporting characters and actors are equally superb.  At the top, Zendaya has carved out her own fantastic MJ/Mary Jane for the MCU, much more integral to who Spidey is than the character from the past two trilogies.  Holland continues to convey that teen uncertainty and lack of confidence, while slipping in the word “awesome” every few minutes to acknowledge he’s seeing all the cool things going on around him that the audience sees.  New to the MCU, Jake Gyllenhaal creates another memorable character after excellent work in films like Donnie Darko and Source Code with the new power-wielding Mysterio.  Gyllenhall brings equal gravitas and charm to Michael Keaton’s Vulture as seen in the last Spider-Man solo outing.  And Angourie Rice really has a stand-out performance compared to when we last saw her, playing high schooler Betty, a new close friend to Ned (Jacob Batalon)–together they make a fun duo and solid coming of age movie sidebar to the film.

How does this compare to Spider-Man: Homecoming?  It’s hard to believe that incredible reboot film was in theaters only two years ago.  Screenwriter Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have inked both Spider-Man films plus the script for Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Homecoming still nudges out the others as the tightest story of the group.  But Spider-Man: Far From Home is a great follow-up, easily combining with the 2017 film to create the best two side-by-side solo films in the entire decade-plus run of the MCU.  No two back-to-back Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Guardians, Ant-Man or Avengers movies surpass what director Jon Watts has done with these two films.  Spider-Man has always been Marvel Comics’ #1 superhero, so it’s about time the movies at last reflect that popularity.

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We’ve known from the first trailer released January 15–well before the premiere of Avengers: Endgame–that Spider-Man: Far from Home would find Spider-Man and all his teenaged friends get out of Avengers: Endgame in one piece.  The biggest reveal then was that “Far from Home” in the title doesn’t mean Spider-Man is left stuck on the planet Titan–where he turned to dust.  Nope.  It’s a school trip from his home in NYC to Europe–not all that far away for this Spidey.  But now that Avengers: Endgame arrived and the Russo Brothers “officially” released everyone from the spoiler-free zone via Twitter effective today, Marvel Studios and Sony followed up with the very Avengers: Endgame spoiler-filled, next trailer for the film.

But what will be the fifth appearance Tom Holland as Spider-Man (since this takes place right after his fourth appearance in Avengers: Endgame) looks like it has the potential of being as fun as his past appearances, more Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, more Jon Favreau as Happy, and all his school friends returning.  And audiences meet Jake Gyllenhaal′s Mysterio, a comic villain straight out of the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #212.

We had a good dose of Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury again in Captain Marvel, but not so much in Avengers: Endgame, so it’s nice to see he will be integral to the story again in this next film.  But how will the studio deal with Spidey’s friends and the five-year age shift, presumably for some of them, like Peter Parker?  We’ll have to wait for that answer.

Take a look at the second trailer for Spider-Man: Far from Home:

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It seemed obvious from the release schedule available back in 2017–well before the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man’s drifting off into dust–but the first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home confirms what everyone figured, Spider-Man and all his teen-aged friends get out of Avengers: Endgame in one piece.  The biggest reveal?  The “Far from Home” in the title doesn’t mean Spider-Man is left stuck on the planet Titan–where he turned to dust.  Nope.  Looks like it’s just a school trip from his home in NYC to Europe–not all that far away for this Spidey.

But what will be the fifth appearance Tom Holland as Spider-Man (since this takes place right after his fourth appearance in Avengers: Endgame) looks like it has the potential of being as fun as his past appearances, more Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, more Jon Favreau as Happy, and all his school friends returning.  And audiences get their first look at Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Mysterio and a comic villain straight out of the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #212.  Marvel Studios and Sony also released a new poster from the film (below).

We haven’t seen this March’s Captain Marvel yet, but we can’t get enough of Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury, too.  Marvel calls this one a teaser, but it’s just as long as the full length trailers for most movies.

Take a look at the first trailer and images from Spider-Man: Far from Home:

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