Gyllenhaal Gives Great Performance in Sci-fi Horror Flick

 

Life,  Blu-Ray Review, Kam Williams, outer space adventure, alien force, international space station, claustrophobic thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan ReynoldsLife

Blu-Ray Review by Kam Williams

Gyllenhaal Gives Great Performance in Sci-fi Horror Flick

In recent years, Hollywood has started serving up some outer space adventures, a la The Martian (2015) and The Space between Us (2017), suggesting that the Red Planet is basically a benign environment free of any hostile creatures. But just when we thought it was safe to visit Mars again, along comes Life, a cautionary horror flick unleashing a terrifying alien force aboard an international space station.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), the claustrophobic thriller co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds as Dr. David Jordan and Roy Adams, respectively, the Pilgrim 7’s  flight engineer and chief medical officer. The balance of the six-person crew is composed of Center for Disease Control quarantine specialist Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), systems engineer Sho Kendo (Hiroyuki Sanada), eco-biologist Dr. Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) and the spaceship’s captain, Katerina Golovkin (Olga Dihovichnaya).

As the film unfolds, we learn that their appointed mission is merely to deliver a single-cell organism arriving via space probe from the surface of Mars. It all sounds easy enough as the disarming plotline initially devotes itself to developing the characters’ back stories, like how David is a disenchanted, Iraq War vet.   

Upon retrieving the capsule, they celebrate the discovery of the first incontrovertible proof of life beyond Earth. They even allow Sho’s daughter to give the ostensibly-innocuous substance a cute, cuddly name, oblivious of the danger lurking just over the horizon.

The plot thickens when “Calvin” begins reproducing via mitosis, and every cell of its luminescent ectoplasmic mass proves to be an irrepressible mix of brains and muscles. By day 25, the sentient creature develops proto-appendages and becomes strong enough to breach containment.

Initially, it nibbles on a finger of Hugh’s, who somehow discerns that “Calvin doesn’t hate us, but he’s got to kill us to survive.” Great. What ensues is a desperate race against time to return to Earth before the mushrooming monster devours them all, one-by-one.

Though reminiscent of such sci-fi classics as Alien (1979) and Species (1995), Life is a worthwhile addition to the extraterrestrial on the loose genre. Substantial credit in this regard goes to the ever-underappreciated Jake Gyllenhaal who turns in the latest in a long line of impressive performances which includes outings in Nocturnal Animals (2016), Southpaw (2015), Nightcrawler (2014) and Prisoners (2013), to name a few.

Strap yourself in for a cardiovascular screamfest that’ll keep you squirming from beginning to end.  A riveting reminder that it still ain’t smart to mess with Mother Nature!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for violence, terror and pervasive profanity

In English, Japanese and Chinese with subtitles

Running time: 104 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Blu-ray Extras: Deleted scenes; Astronaut Diaries; Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space; Life: In Zero G; and Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin.

                                                                 

To order a copy of Life on Blu-ray, visit  https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XT9C1C9/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Haunting Hitchcockian Thriller Released on Home Video

 

Nocturnal Animals  DVD Review by Kam Williams, Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, cerebral suspense thriller, worthy of HitchcockNocturnal Animals

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Haunting Hitchcockian Thriller Released on Home Video

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) hears from her estranged, ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) for the first time in almost 20 years when he mails her an advance copy of his upcoming novel, “Nocturnal Animals.” Not only is she surprised to discover that he’s dedicated the book to her, but that he’d like to get together for dinner the next time he’s in Los Angeles.

Far more unsettling is Edward’s semi-autobiographical manuscript which seems to be making thinly-veiled references to their failed marriage. While Susan had managed to move on with her life, it is suddenly apparent to her that he’d remained stuck in the past and might now be rehashing their relationship as a literary form of therapy.

After all, back when they were dating, Susan had been warned by her imperious, well-heeled mother (Laura Linney) that she’d regret tying the knot with a romantic, aspiring writer from a relatively-humble background. Sure enough, the family matriarch knew best, as the mismatched couple did eventually divorce.

However, while Susan went on to become a celebrated art curator and to remarry a businessman (Armie Hammer) who could afford to keep her living in the lap of luxury, Edward has yet to achieve anything approaching their level of success. Instead, the emotionally-stunted scribe has ostensibly been venting all of his angst in an opus that truly frightens his former wife.

It is abundantly clear that the novel’s unstable protagonist, Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal), is based on Edward, and that the salacious series of events chronicled in the oft-gruesome text are the product of a terribly troubled mind. The only reason Susan might even entertain the idea of a rendezvous with a man she hasn’t even spoken to in a couple of decades, against her better judgment, is the fact that she’s just learned that her second hubby is having an affair. 

So unfolds Nocturnal Animals, a cerebral suspense thriller directed and adapted by Tom Ford from the Austin Wright best seller, “Tony and Susan.” The movie’s only Oscar nomination was landed by veteran thespian Michael Shannon in the Best Supporting Actor category.

The film revolves around a sublime deconstruction of Susan’s shifting mental state, from her present-day predicament, to flashbacks of her relationship with Edward, to her perspective of disturbing scenes from his unpublished novel. A haunting deconstruction, worthy of Hitchcock, of a vulnerable socialite’s very fragile psyche.    

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for menacing, violence, profanity and graphic nudity

Running time: 116 minutes

Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Three Making of Nocturnal Animals featurettes: Building the Story; The Look of Nocturnal Animals; and The Filmmaker’s Eye: Tom Ford. 

To order a copy of Nocturnal Animals on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTI084E/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  GIG News

Ex-Champ Mounts Comeback in Bittersweet Boxing Tale of Redemption

 

Southpaw

Film Review by Kam Williams

 

Ex-Champ Mounts Comeback in Bittersweet Boxing Tale of Redemption

 

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) surmounted incredible odds en route to becoming the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Champ. After all, his prospects weren’t exactly brilliant, given how he’d been abandoned by his mother at birth.

Southpaw,  Film Review, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Boxing
But he was lucky enough to meet Maureen (Rachel McAdams) while they were being raised in an orphanage in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. For, the two would not only fall madly in love but she would serve as the rock who kept his nose clean after a couple of brief stints behind bars.

As Billy worked his way up the boxing ranks, the childhood sweethearts married and had a daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence). And Maureen repeatedly inspired her husband to climb into the ring to channel his aggression positively, rather than entertain any ideas of blowing off steam in self-destructive fashion.

By the time his record reached 43-0, Billy and family family were living beyond their means in a gaudy McMansion where they conspicuously consumed the trappings of the nouveau riche: the flashy cars, the gaudy bling, the expensive champagne, and so forth.  However, between his parasitic entourage and a shady money manager, Jordan Mains (50 Cent), it was also readily apparent that he’d have to keep winning bouts to maintain the decadent lifestyle.

Southpaw,  Film Review, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Boxing

Sure enough, in the wake of a terrible personal tragedy, Billy did lose the title belt and, faster than a Don King haircut, found himself broke and back on the rough streets he’d worked so hard to escape. Abandoned by his hangers-on and by his fair-weather manager for the #1 contender (Miguel Gomez), he ends up at a gym in Harlem run by Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker), an irascible trainer reminiscent of the character played by Burgess Meredith in Rocky. The salty veteran on the verge of retirement reluctantly agrees to take on the reclamation project on the condition that the brawler’s willing to add a little finesse to his pugilistic repertoire.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously once uttered, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Well, he obviously never met Billy Hope who endeavors to make the most of a shot at redemption in Southpaw.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film features yet another nonpareil performance by Jake Gyllenhaal who deserved Academy Award nominations for both Nightcrawler (2014) and Prisoners (2013). He is again nothing short of mesmerizing, here, as a desperate, deposed, disgraced champ on an appointed mission to reclaim his throne and his fortune.

Gyllenhaal floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee in an Oscar-quality tour de force!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for violence and pervasive profanity

Running time: 123 minutes

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Source:  Baret News Wire