Wildlife

I really do love Paul Dano.

Since I first saw him in Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, he has been consistently in some of my favorite and highest rated movies. He doesn’t seem to phone it in, he gives it his all, and I love him every time. And sorry, I didn’t notice him earlier with There Will Be Blood, as I was too distracted by Daniel Day-Lewis.

This film, Wildlife, however does not star Dano. Instead, it was directed by Dano, his first feature film, and also partially written by him. He had help in that it was based on a book, and the screenplay was also written by his Ruby Sparks costar, Zoe Kazan.

An actor’s first directorial film can have a big impact on the future of their career. Who knows, maybe they direct better than they act. Maybe their direction sucks and they will just go back to acting only. There can be a lot writing on the line for him, and he is still in his early 30’s at the time of doing this film. Good luck Dano, and whatever happens, please don’t stop acting.

WF
Shit, we’re missing one of the stars in this picture. We have an actor loose on the set!

Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould) is just a boy, living with his parents, trying to get his world view on. Set in 1960, we don’t even have that JFK inspiring moon speech yet, just a lot of deaths in Vietnam and economic booms. Booms for everyone but the Brinsons, that is. The dad (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been moving his family around for awhile now, due to changing jobs. And when he gets fired, he doesn’t want to take his old job back again, because of pride or some silly nonsense. This does not please the mom (Carey Mulligan), who wants to make sure their family is safe and content enough to get what they need, even if they are not rich.

So what does the dad do? Well, there are some wildfires out there in Montana, so he takes a job to help put them out. Hours away from his home and family, in a dangerous position, for less money. And then he is gone.

So now Joe has to live with his mom who is slowly unraveling over these series of events, feeling a lack of love and like she has no say in the world. Joe doesn’t want his parents to fight, but it seems that he is just a passive beast in his own life. Can there be reconciliation? Well, Bill Camp plays a richer older man, so let that answer part of the question for you.

hw
Ah yes, look at all that family bonding.

For those who are easily distracted, Wildlife may be a harder film to get through, especially the first half. It is a drama by nature and by execution. We have a small cast, a majority of this film is just Oxenbould and Mulligan. Doing what? Well, existing.

I will say it picked up in the second half a lot, when Gyllenhaal’s character did leave. Not a slight against him or anything, because he did act quite well like his usual self, they just didn’t have a lot of the more intense scenes until after it occurred.

In terms of acting, the only reason Gyllenhaal won’t be talked about much is due to the limited nature of his character. Mulligan is a force in this film though, carrying so much on her face and in her sarcasm. She is the main reason people will be talking about this film in the future, and surely will be nominated.

Oxenbould was okay, but felt like a passive vessel for most of the film. The viewer was Oxenbould, powerless to effect what was unfolding on the screen.

Overall, I might forget about Wildlife within a year or so, but it is a smaller film that is full of acting talent and is a great stepping stone for Dano’s career.

3 out of 4.

The Sisters Brothers

When is the last time we got a good western?

Oh, you mean like, every year over the last decade? Hells yeah.

Since Westerns went out of style, we get a lot less of them, and they end up being a lot higher quality. Not when we were oversaturated with the westerns decades ago. They were like the superhero movies of their time.

Needless to say, this year we already had a western Damsel, that I for sure did not see. But I saw The Sisters Brothers, which has a chance to be the western of 2018. And if not, then sure, Damsel.

Gyllenhaal
Damsel probably doesn’t have a bearded Gyllenhaal though, sooooo…

Set somewhere in the 1800’s, the brothers Eli (John C. Reilly) and Christian Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) are good at killing and a bit proud of it. They can take out a whole group and walk away unscathed. Some say it is thanks to their dad being a straight up killer madman as well. And some people say…well, they only say that one thing.

They work for The Commodore, a man who runs a large area with his wealth and outlaws. If someone steals or messes with him, they end up dead. And now the brothers have to try and catch up with a prospector (Riz Ahmed) who stole something from the Commodore. Trying to catch up to someone before they make it many states away can be quite the burden, especially if they don’t exactly know where he will be.

Thankfully, another worker of The Commodore, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), has been following the prospector and keeping notes along the way for the brothers to follow. He is a writer, not a killer, so he couldn’t do anything that could cause a person that much pain. Even though it would make things simpler.

But when the prospector and the author start to develop a friendship, with dreams of making it big, then anything can change.

Also starring Carol Kane, Rebecca Root, and Rutger Hauer.

Brothers
“If there is a place you need to go, I’m the one you need to know, I’m the map!”

Let me just say, before I get really into the movie, that this film had the most infuriating credits intro I have ever seen. Apparently a lot of companies were behind this one, and so they had to show them all at the start, you know, for legal reasons. And it started with one at the bottom of the screen in a strange shimmer color font.Then the next one appeared directly on top of it. And so on. And some lines had more than one group. Overall, it was 7 rows of words stacked on top of each other, filling in the black screen, and for whatever reason, it made me angry.

Making me read down to up? Just filling things up and not fading anything away? I was mad.

And the film really didn’t make me happy. It is not a comedy or anything, a serious drama, with the occasional jokes. About two brothers, overall, who are good at killing people and have to go around killing a lot of people. And it is also a lot about the prospector and Gyllenhaal’s character.

The Sisters Brothers is about a few characters. It is definitely not about the story. The plot is pretty poor. It feels really long and drawn out, not to showcase great shots, because the shots are just okay. The acting is decent, it has some moments that are cool to see. But we also have night scenes with not great lighting, because they are going for realistic, and that is a shame if those things are big events, like the introduction or when main characters get hurt.

I was disappointed with The Sisters Brothers. This is not a knock on Reilly, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, or Ahmed, who all acted wonderfully. But the film put me to sleep and felt like it was going nowhere fast.

1 out of 4.

Stronger

A couple years ago I saw Patriots Day, against my better judgement, and it felt wrong.

It was #TooSoon, the movie. It felt like it wanted to be a documentary, but also to use a lot of famous actors. It would have been amazing as a documentary, as the footage and all of that exists. Instead, we had Marky Mark running around Boston, making those actual areas relive the moments, including when the final guy was caught in the boat, which seemed to be filmed on location.

That is uncomfrotable.

And now we have our second movie about the Boston Marathon bombings, which I clearly skipped for awhile for similar reasons. Am I ready for a story like this one? Stronger is clearly being hailed as a real story of a survivor, and will end with me most likely crying in happiness.

Kiss
Does it end with a happy kiss and terrorism finally defeated?

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a free spirited Boston man, who has an energetic family, loves his Boston teams, and loves to joke around and have fun. So a stereotypical Boston man. He is also in love with Erin (Tatiana Maslany), an on again off again relationship. Right now it is off, so to win her back, he helped her raise money for his Boston Marathon run, and promised to be there at the finish line!

And he was there. Right in the blast of the bombs going off before Erin made it to the end.

This left Jeff very damaged, but he was saved by some onlookers, taken to the hospitals, who helped amputate his legs so that he could survive. But he had no legs. And now the city of Boston is looking to him as a symbol of their ability to grow from this tragedy. He has promised to walk again, and wants to be in the spotlight, he thinks. But the pressures put on him by the community drive him into relapse after relapse, feeling like a worthless potato. His mom (Miranda Richardson) is trying to help him, but it is doing the opposite.

Can he be Stronger, not just for himself, but for an entire city?

Also starring the following people, mostly as his family: Richard Lane Jr., Nate Richman, Lenny Clarke, Patty O’Neil, Clancy Brown, Kate Fitzgerald, and Danny McCarthy.

Boston
One day you wake up, no legs, and being used by the Bruins.

I went in expecting to hate this film, and sure enough, it surprised me. I expected a typical feel good story of someone struggling to eventually get through PT and start walking on false legs. I expected the long anguish scenes of surgeries, of his girlfriend crying by his bed, and all of that. But it is different. This one feels real.

Having the main character want to get better (obviously), but hated the spotlight and hated the pressures on him. His family was overbearing, random citizens walking up to him on the street making him out to be a martyr (which he obviously didn’t ask for or want) felt heartbreaking. This guy had a lot of eyes on him, when he never felt special. He also was feeling survivor’s remorse over the others who died because they weren’t saved as quickly as him.

This whole thing is a lot more about PTSD than some overcoming great challenges story, which makes it a lot more powerful. Sure, he eventually did overcome them, but it focuses more on the challenges you don’t expect someone to overcome.

And of course, the main reason to watch this – Gyllenhaal himself. A powerful actor, especially at transforming into a character. His voice and appearance was a bit funny, reminding me of his Bubble Boy self, but it definitely felt like a man who had lost his legs. Great, fantastic performance, to a much better than expected film.

3 out of 4.

Life

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Look, I am a big fan of all of these classic board games being turned into movies. Clue is the golden standard, and that was over thirty years ago. So why not a movie about the board game Life?

The good news about Life is that it is so expansive of a game, you can basically make it about anything, as along as it involves growing up, getting a job and family, a career, and eventually retiring. Anything could happen to you in between that. You could win a Nobel Prize! You could play the stock market. You could just not at all do anything worth while.

As long as you don’t set it in a fantasy realm, or in outer space, or anything like that, it could count as a movie about the board game.

Calvin
What the fuck is this? Is this in Millionaire Estates?

Aboard the ISS, we got a lovely crew of people, crewing around, doing science, being astronauts. They grab a probe returning from Mars, hoping to analyze some soil and maybe see if they can find life. And guess what! They do! A tiny tiny microorganism, but it is life not from Earth. Hooray science!

Everyone is stoked, the world is stoked, some kid wins a contest and names it Calvin, big celebration, we are not alone! But maybe w should be alone?

Things start to go wrong on the space station. Calvin starts to grow, Calvin starts to show intelligence, and Calvin needs to eat to survive whatever he can on the ship. And you know who that means.

It means these people! Hiroyuki Sanada, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds.

Finaltwo
The poor ISS gets destroyed and fucked up in so many different movies.

Obviously this has nothing to do with the board game, that is just a joke, but this film still has a shitty title. Life is too vague, has certainly been a title before, and isn’t as ominous as they had hoped.

I first avoided this film because it came out on my birthday, and everyone knew that Power Rangers was the bigger story there. Also despite having actors I knew in it, I thought there was not way it would be a good film.

And guess what? I actually did enjoy it. Sure, on the surface, it is basically just the movie Alien, but with a different Alien and not in deep space. Actually, it is extremely similar to Alien, including having people ignoring quarantine rules in order to doom everyone. However, we don’t get a badass female protagonist, we just get people continually sacrificing themselves for the greater good of humanity.

Despite its lack of originality, I still enjoyed it. The ending had me very tense and on the edge of my seat. The acting from Gyllenhaal and Ferguson was decent enough, and Sanada’s character made me feel incredibly sad.

I would say objectively it is not a bad thriller/horror film at all. It does get a bit messy at points, a little bit confusing not being familiar with the layout or everything they are talking about. There are plenty of worse films out there that won’t scare you, so might as well give Life a shot.

3 out of 4.

Okja

I didn’t know a whole lot about Okja going in, but I did see a few posters and just knew, just knew, I had to see it. Like, as soon as possible.

I also definitely thought it was a horror film, a foreign South Korean horror film. About a beast? I don’t know, the name and poster sort of scared me.

But then the advertisements got a bit more flashy, and I realized this was going to be a film bigger than itself. I also heard that it was directed by Joon-ho Bong, an established director who I have only seen one film of before, Snowpiercer. Yeah, I bet you saw Snowpiercer as well. One of the better indie “Have to see this movie!” campaigns over the last few years.

And this time, his film is right away on Netflix, allowing that same sort of campaign to happen, but for even more people.

Shorts
But come on, we all came for the gratuitous sexual overtones.

Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), new CEO of Mirando Corporation, has taken over from her father, a controversial man. It is a meat factory, and she is introducing a new superpig that they have bred/discovered/something like that. And over 20 of these pigs are being sent around the world to various farms, to see who could raise the biggest and best super pig in 10 years time, with the winner being crowned in a giant event.

And now, ten years later, we get to meet Okja, a superpig, living in the mountains of South Korea. Okja is being raised my Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) and her grandfather (Hee-Bong Byun) alone and really don’t want to let Okja go. But they come, they love Okja, and take him away. They even brought Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal), famed TV animal show guy, but that doesn’t soften the blow.

So despite their best attempts, Okja is still taken, so Mija decides to chase after them. Fuck the corporate people taking her friend over the last decade. It turns out she isn’t the only one after Okja either. So is the Animal Liberation Front, an animal rights group, who apparently tries to practice non violent behavior. They want to free Okja and bring down Mirando Corp.

Oh joy, caught between animal rights groups and a meat company, Mija just wants to be alone and happy with her family and friend.

Also starring Giancarlo Esposito, Paula Dano, Steven Yeun, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Lily Collins, and Devon Bostick.

Pig
I’m glad they told me this was a pig, because if not, I would have assumed…well, lets go with hippo dog.

Okja, for a lack of better words, is an experience. The very first scene is so bright, vivid, and Tilda Swinton, that you are immediately wondering just what sort of film you have gotten yourself into. But it will drive your curiosity and you will find yourself needing to sit through to see where the fuck it is going.

And then after the opening, we get quaint wilderness, giant pigs, and subtitles, so immediately a lot of people may be turned off. A whole lot of this film is subtitles, along with English language, because it is set in the real world and it wants to be authentic. Also because the director is of course Joon-ho Bong and he probably wants to represent his country in the movies he is making.

The characters in Okja, besides Mija and her family, are downright zany. They go to the extreme and bring characters outside of their normal roles. Gyllenhaal is super weird and has a higher pitched voice, it is a bit bizarre to imagine him the star of a successful animal reality show. Like a gone stupid version of Steve Irwin maybe. And Dano? He normally plays the eccentric strange character, but compared to other members, his Animal Liberation Front frontman seemed a bit…ordinary. A guy who would go to great lengths to get what he wants, sure, but relatively normal.

The CGI for the beast was pretty good, but it was still pretty awkward at times. Watching random characters badly interact with Okja as it is stomping and running around leaves a lot of room for error. But it never took me out of the experience.

Okja is a dark film at times, a light film at other times, and balls to the wall in a few other parts. It is probably one of the best Netflix Original films ever made, it just doesn’t feel like one of the best films I have ever seen. But a very strong film regardless and one that a lot of different ages and groups would enjoy.

3 out of 4.

Nocturnal Animals

I wasn’t able to see Nocturnal Animals before it came out, mostly due to screening conflict. But without knowing the plot of the film, I was interested in the cast alone.

But given that I wanted to see it, the title did a lot of work with only two words.

Nocturnal. Animals. It sounds mysterious, secretive, and of course, primitive. It riles up a lot of fears, especially for those people afraid of owls.

Jake Gyllenhaal already had a good year thanks to Demolition, so regardless of how this one went, I consider it to just be bonus Gyllenhaal.

ATJ
And a bonus amount of this guy, who I didn’t recognize in the film.

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is miserable. She lives in a giant house, with her husband (Armie Hammer). She is an art director, but feels like it is all junk. They are close to being poor, selling their items, waiting for a big business deal to come through, but she doesn’t care. She cares that her marriage is just a shell and pointless.

Then she receives a package from her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). He is a writer, she criticized him a long time ago, he just didn’t write from his heart. But now he has a new story, one he says was inspired by her, to write from his heart, even dedicated to her. It is even called Nocturnal Animals, his old nickname for her to explain her insomnia.

The story is about a family, a husband (Gyllenhaal), his wife (Isla Fisher), and teenage daughter (Ellie Bamber). They are driving through Texas in the middle of the night, heading to a vacation, empty roads, no signal, simple. Until they do catch up to a few cars, who are up to no good and willing to make a few choices to ruin a few lives.

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Robert Aramayo, and Karl Glusman as some bad dudes, Michael Shannon as an older, smoking cop, and Laura Linney as Susan’s mom. Real mom in this story, not the book mom.

Computadora
But also all of these people are fake anyways because: acting.

Nocturnal Animals made me feel a whole lot of emotions. Fright, scares, hope, sadness, angst, tension, extreme sadness, indifference, and even a bit of confusion. Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat from some parts of the film, and sinking into it later to try and escape the pain.

Nocturnal Animals tells a story, a story in a story, and it does both points so goddamn well. It both made me want it to never end, and to subsequently hurry up so that it could potentially become a sunshine, happy ending. But it sticks to its tone guns and it delivers exactly the perfect ending at the conclusion.

Everyone involved with this project should simultaneously be slapped and hugged because of what I imagine they had to go through to really convey those emotions. The acting, cinematography, directing, fuck, even the costumes, why not. It all just feels so planned to maximize the angst I felt inside.

This movie is extremely hard to talk about because in all honesty, it is something that should be experienced. It isn’t for the feint of heart, it goes into some heart wrenching areas. But if you give it a shot, you will get a smart film that doesn’t hold your hand, some of the best performances of 2016, and a story that will stay with you for a long time afterwards.

4 out of 4.

Demolition

I just checked my watch, and yes, it looks like we are at the point where I will just about see anything if you tell me that Jake Gyllenhaal is in it.

I don’t even need to list his last few years of excellent films. But I will talk about 2015. Southpaw was divided, but it made my top of 2015 list. Everest wasn’t as universally loved either, but it took me on an emotional thrill ride and I still gave it a 4 out of 4. Although, sure, that one had less Gyllenhaal being amazing.

I don’t have a damn clue what Demolition is actually about, but knowing one actor in it has made me happy to watch it.

It is like the opposite effect of Robert De Niro now.

Dance
Heck, if Jake could just dance for 90 minutes I’d call the movie a roaring success.

Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in finances, super rich, and married to Julia (Heather Lind), but she just died in a car accident. Davis was the passenger but he only got a few scrapes. This really fucking sucks. Sure Davis might not have been the most emotionally invested person ever, but he still loved his wife and she meant the world to him. She also meant the world to her parents, Phil (Chris Cooper) and Margot (Polly Draper). Oh, Phil happens to be Davis’ boss. They are both wrecked over this, but Davis seems to feel almost nothing. He doesn’t cry, he doesn’t scream, it is like he is still in shock and is empty inside.

None of this helps when he decides to go to a vending machine and spend $1.25 on a bag of peanut M&M’s, which fails to drop. What the fuck vending machine. So Davis sends a complaint letter to the company and accidentally lets them know a lot about his life. He then writes follow up letters, making sure they know the whole story. This is very personal, but hey, its Davis’ way of finally talking about his issues.

This eventually leads him to Karen (Naomi Watts), the entire PR department, who feels connected with Davis despite being a complete stranger. She has a 15 year old son (Judah Lewis), is dating the boss of the company (C.J. Wilson) and has her own issues, but hey, no one is perfect. Maybe one day these two will meet. Davis, a grieving man, and Karen, a lost soul. But that might be too hokey and romance like. Fuck romance, this is about losing a loved one not finding one.

Also starring Malachy Cleary and Debra Monk as Davis’ parents.

Demo
Yes, in demolition we get to see a guy demolish shit. The title isn’t just a metaphor!

Jake Gyllenhaal plays an unstable character? Check. Jake Gyllenhaal acts really well? Check. Jake Gyllenhaal takes his shirt off? Check check check.

Like usual, Gyllenhaal delivers. He gives us a quirky dude who the audience will cheer for and hope for the best. But this is a comedy/drama. Things aren’t going to just be happy. Jesus, his wife just died. He needs to let it out and grieve and do something to honor her in his own way. He is worth the price of admission.

As for this film, it is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who more recently directed Wild and Dallas Buyers Club. Those were nominated for Oscars, but I don’t see this film getting any nods. The film, despite tear educing and funny, just didn’t have enough closure. Closure in both the actual plot, and the side plot involving Watts.

Watts felt really underused for this role. It deserved to be something bigger or better. She was just wasted for the small role, given her more recent success as an Oscar nominated actress. Oh well.

Did I mention we get to see Gyllenhaal dance and lose his mind? That’s fun.

3 out of 4.

Everest

Here is a dumb question you can ask your friends and coworkers if you want them to dislike you a little bit more than they already do.

“Before Mount Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain on Earth?” This will make them ponder and come up with some bad guess, and you can quickly toss in a “It was still Mount Everest, it just wasn’t discovered, dipshit!” And again, you will lose friends.

My main problem with this joke, as a geophysicist/movie reviewer, is that it assumes that Mount Everest was always the tallest mountain on Earth, and that things don’t change. But we know they change, we know India and Asia weren’t always smashing into each other, so there is a real answer to the question of what used to be the tallest mountain before Mount Everest took over.

Turns out this knowledge is hard to get to and a bit awkward. But know there is a real answer out there. Just modern technology hasn’t always existed.

Oh yeah, I am supposed to talk about Everest. I think I should watch it on a large screen to give the large mountain its necessary honor.

Touch
Like a very gentle soft touch on its top most tip.

About 50-55 million years ago, India collided with Asia. It was probably the fastest moving tectonic plate ever, as it split with what is now Madagascar, presumably looking for a new climate. India was on an oceanic plate that was subducting under Asia at the time, which is the why it moved so fast. Once they crashed, the Himalaya mountains decided to be a thing, as the two land masses crumbled into each other, upward and forward! They grew fast and grew hard, making some really tall mountains that are still growing today. Mount Everest, aka Sagarm?th?, aka Chomolungma, currently sitting at 29,029 ft above sea level. Everest’s main purpose seems to be looking tall and killing crazy white assholes.

Oh, but maybe you care about those assholes? Well in that case, the film itself takes place in 1996, based on a real life disaster that took place that year and had like, five books written about it from survivors. Lot of primary sources to work with.

But our main character is Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), owner of Adventure Consultants out of New Zealand leads groups up Everest for large sums, helping them the whole way. He was the first to do this as a commercial business. There is also Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), main guide of Mountain Madness, who started doing the same thing later. In 1996, it was extremely popular though, and there were dozens of groups up there, all trying to use the few mountain paths to make it to the top, around the same time, causing a lot of problems.

Speaking of people, we have a few more notables. Like the fact that Rob’s wife (Kiera Knightley) is at home, pregnant, ready to give birth not long after his return. And Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), a journalist who is going to write about his experience. And Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a regular guy who worked three jobs to save up money to hike Everest, making his second attempt to the peak to help school kids realize that dreams come true! And Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), from Texas, a cocky dude who feels good when he climbs, but is depressed back at home. And and and and of course Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson), one of the guides working with Fischer, and a general bamf climber.

Honestly, plot reviews are easy in this case, because I don’t have to describe bad things happening. I just have to talk about who is involved. And since it is such a big cast, here are a few other people involved!

Emily Watson played the base camp leader with Elizabeth Debicki as their team doctor. Thomas M. Wright, Martin Henderson, and Tom Goodman-Hill play the other 3 guides and Sam Worthington plays a literal Guy who works with Adventuring Consultants, and in real life later becomes their director and CEO. Naoko Mori plays Yasuko Namba, who had climbed 6 of the 7 main peaks with Everest as her last, and Robin Wright as the wife of Beck Weathers.

Climb
Color coding the hikers is a good strategy, but I feel bad for anyone who got stuck with red.

Apparently, sometimes, I get a little bit emotional over some geology. Because at least one scene in particular had me bawling my eyes out. I mean I found myself crying in the dark theater, surrounded by strangers, crying for like two minutes. It wasn’t even at the end of film, it was probably about 80% of the way through. I am just an emotional wreck since I had a baby, I guess.

Everest is an intense, dramatic, and gorgeous film. It was made in particular to be experience first hand on an IMAX screen. Sure, in the beginning, it is a bit weird as we get some character introductions, watching them hike to base camp and the weeks of training before they finally climb. It isn’t just a group of people running up a hill and facing constant threats. They don’t slowly die one at a time like it is a horror film. This is based on a true story and the attention to detail is astounding. It is easy to get things right when you have multiple books to figure it all out.

The last 40 minutes is extremely gripping. Not knowing the actual story, I didn’t know who would make it out alive so I was afraid for everyone. They all feel like real people and it is easy to connect with many of them before their eventual ascent.

Finally, I think my favorite part of this movie is that it isn’t about a group of people trying to battle nature and show their dominance. It is really about a mountain, who gives zero fucks about the insignificant life forms that sometimes explore its slopes. It is about how nature is unforgiving and doesn’t care about how much prep work occurs, it will do what it wants, when it wants. It is about how life doesn’t care if you are a good person, or a bad person, a newbie or a trainer climber, you are just as likely to get killed in a heart beat.

Nature is a fucking beast. And Everest is fucking good.

4 out of 4.

Southpaw

Hold up your hands. Now bend your hands back a little bit and curl your fingers. Then use this hand position to hit someone in the face, with the bottom part of your palm. That is what I thought Southpaw was before this movie.

Southpaw didn’t actually teach me what a Southpaw was, I had to find out after the fact. Apparently it is just a mainly left handed boxer though, instead of the normal right handed boxer. Oh well.

Either way, the main reason I was interested in this film was to see a buff Jake Gyllenhaal. We had glimpses of it in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but no one wanted to see that movie for some reason. The best part about the muscles put on by Gyllenhaal is that he did it right after starring in Nightcrawler, where he famously lost a lot of weight and has scrawny body.

Look out everyone. Gyllenhaal is now willing to do potential future harm to his health to give it his all in these roles.

RAGEEE
And he is excited to do it!

Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) has got it all. He is undefeated, over 40 wins to his name! He is the lightweight champion of the world! He has friends, a loving wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), a daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), a mansion, a lifelong manager friend/promoter (50 Cent), and fat filthy stacks of cash.

But he wasn’t given these things. He had to work hard. He was an orphan, raised in the foster care system. So was his wife! So were all his friends. From nothing they created something great, and now with all the hits to the head, there is a chance he could lose it all if he keeps taking a beating. His wife wants him to live to see their daughter grow up, a fair request. So sure, maybe he should retire.

Not everyone is down with his retirement though. Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) claims he is the best at the sport, but Billy won’t give him a chance. Miguel needs to beat the best to claim he is the best, so he starts a public taunting event to get Billy to commit. But when the taunting gets too personal, events quickly escalate and a pretty bad thing happens. I honestly don’t know if the bad thing was said in the spoiler, so I will avoid saying it.

Needless to say, post “bad thing”, Billy won’t get to live out the rest of his life as planned. Depression, loss of wealth, drugs, all of these things bring Billy down. After he loses everything, then, maybe then, he can turn his life around with an old gym owner (Forest Whitaker) and living on the streets.

Also featuring Naomie Harris, Skylan Brooks, and Beau Knapp.

Girl Face
Billy was eventually defeated by a KO from his daughter, quite embarrassingly.

Southpaw left me an emotional wreck. Notably important, I have a wife and I have a daughter, so despite not growing up on the streets or being athletic in any way, I found myself relating really heavily with the main character. All the bad things that happened to him I could imagine happening to me, so I was on the same wavelength from minute 1 and on.

Southpaw isn’t a revolutionary story. It has some normal boxing movie moments, maybe even cliches if you will. It wasn’t going for Warrior (shut up, I know it wasn’t boxing, close enough). But what elevates Southpaw is in the incredible acting.

Everyone was on point in this film. Gyllenhaal gave a complete performance, transforming himself into a new person. The film was originally going to star Eminem as the titular role, as a spiritual sequel to 8 Mile. Obviously Eminem wasn’t a champion boxer, but the whole film would be a metaphor for what was going on in his life and his own struggles. It was actually easy to imagine him playing the role early on, but I don’t think he could have pulled off the more emotional and intense parts of the film in the middle and end.

McAdams is in a lot of movies that make me cry, but she is never the reason for the tears. This time McAdams made me cry, who gave one of her best performances. It took awhile to get used to it, but it worked. Whitaker also gives his best performance in years, doing well on the drunk ramblings. It was nice to see after a few pretty bad and cheap movies in a row. And of course, Laurence as the daughter did an amazing job. She conveyed emotions through her eyes like a seasoned pro, with only one of her scenes feeling a bit cheesy.

Southpaw is a movie about a family and boxing. Broken down it is awkward: Boxer’s life turned upside down due to boxing, only way to fix it is more boxing. But the acting and characters make it an incredible film experience.

4 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is everyone’s favorite X-Men, right? I mean, after Wolverine, Deadpool, Magneto, Cable, Bishop, The Phoenix, Gambit, Professor X, 1990s Cartoon Rogue, Longshot, Iceman, The Juggernaut, Apocalypse, and that pterodactyl dude, right?

Just kidding. Nightcrawler is pretty cool up there. Transporting around, being all blue and sneaky and shit. Give him a dagger and he is better than any thief in any roleplaying game. So it is about time Fox branched out on its solo movies, away from their Wolverine jerk fest,

Wait, what? It isn’t an X-Men movie? But that would mean we only got sweet Nightcrawler action in X2, and I am super tired of that movie (too much Wolverine Origin story).

Apparently Nightcrawler (outside of worm teminology), can also describe someone who usually is more social and comes out at night. Ah okay. So maybe a movie about a well liked party animal.

Camera
“Wrong again, fuckface!” – Nightcrawler director

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a dirty rotten scoundrel. Or at least he seems that way, when he beats up a security guard (steals his watch) and steals some material to sell under the table for spare parts. Dude is just trying to get by and make a living. Something is clearly off about him. Kind of scrawny. Talks in a funny way. Always looking at people with those deep eyes, rarely blinking.

No one wants to hire a thief either, so he tends to work on his own, at whatever he does, doing some internet researching and jumping head first into his tasks.

So, when he sees a car crash, he is surprised to find a news crew really quickly on the scene. Apparently these guys just listen to police scanners, try to get great footage of crime, either in progress or with people hurt, and sell it to news stations for some quick cash. After all, these news stations want to have the most exclusive footage and first to get the better ratings!

Sounds cool. Louis should get into that business. Just needs a camera, a police scanner, and an ability to haggle just how hard could it be? Anyone can do it, right? Even that dude from American Psycho could pull it off. Also starring Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, and Riz Ahmed.

Face
I will admit I only said that because of the resemblance in the picture, despite the fact that I still haven’t seen it (shh).

Trust me, this is one of those shitty reviews where I describe the plot in a terrible, vague way. That is just because I need filler and don’t want to really spoil anything that happens.

Nightcrawler is that good. I went in knowing close to nothing and boy was I surprised in so many ways imaginable. I heard that Jake was supposed to be the second prince in Into the Woods with Chris Pine, but had to cancel because he was doing this movie. That made me upset. I want to see Jake singing in agony, damn it!

But I am incredibly happy, in retrospect, that he went the Nightcrawler route instead. Gyllenhaal dropped over 30 pounds for this role, making himself a creepy skinny dude with big bulging eyes. Nothing like his ripped Prince of Persia self. BUT HE WAS SO GOOD IN THIS ROLE.

Shit. I thought this would be a lame drama. But it was captivating, tense, somewhat scary, good, and it didn’t go the ways I thought it would. Louis Bloom is a despicable character and creation, but I want to see him do a lot of things. I don’t want a sequel, that’d be weird. But maybe just side stories or something. I think I am just describing shitty fanfiction. Bloom is probably the best bad guy of 2014. And honestly, I feel like this film came completely out of nowhere.

Nightcrawler is just continuing the trend of great Gyllenhaal movies coming out. I feel like the only reason he has a bad rap at all is due to Bubble Boy, which is silly, because Bubble Boy rocks.

4 out of 4.

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