Jake Gyllenhaal

While enduring the mild pain caused by Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I thought to myself, “Man, this Sam character is a real prick. What type of people actually like this person? This is the best savior we could get?” I then realized that I often find myself thinking this nowadays. We rarely get great, likable heroes or genuine badasses on film anymore. Most are either mopey, passive, or do morally questionable acts. I’m not referring to anti-heroes — although, I do include one on the list — but, rather, the unintentionally lame mainstream characters that aren’t the most compelling or charming. A few of these not-so-heroic characters aren’t due to bad acting. As you’ll notice, Leonardo DiCaprio made the list for Inception, where he gave a solid performance. While I wouldn’t say that most of the actors featured here impressed anyone, DiCaprio and a few others certainly did. Here are ten mainstream characters that exhibit very little heroics:

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“Tell me what you like about my body,” came a shy voice from behind me. I mulled that sentence over for a moment. It seemed like such a strange request considering I already thought the guy was sexy enough to lay next to in my birthday suit. Not to sound like a Christina Aguilera video here, but I couldn’t stop touching this man and the post-activity head spins weren’t adequately allowing me to sum up how much I enjoyed his company. And bluntly, would saying how attractive I found him really change how he felt about himself? A few days later I had time to reflect on this jarring moment. It was the first of its kind for me, and I haven’t experienced anything like it since. Of course men have these questions of body image, but I’ve never been with someone who felt so comfortable (or maybe uncomfortable) as to ask what their partner preferred about their physical appearance. Being a nerd who refuses to live in the real world, I couldn’t help but compare this real slice of life with a film that for all intents and purposes hasn’t really stayed in the minds of many viewers.

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Editor’s Note: This editorial contains spoilers for Source Code, so if you haven’t seen it 1) you should and 2) you probably won’t get the jokes either. It comes from guest writer James Kopecky who has thought far too much about what happened at the end of Duncan Jones’s latest. When I see a movie, I take it as a two-hour-long glimpse into a reality that has a rich history, as well as an ongoing, unwritten future. After the credits roll, I assume that the characters and the story keep moving, most likely in the direction they were headed when the picture ended. So when I saw Source Code, I thought about what happened to the characters after screen faded to black. This turned out to be problematic for me, because the ending of Source Code raised a slew of questions, some more perplexing than others.

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Culture Warrior

This editorial contains spoilers for Source Code and Moon. If you haven’t seen the movies yet, go check it out first before diving in. When I watched Duncan Jones’s sophomore effort Source Code, I couldn’t help but think about how much it resembles, nearly beat for beat in its structure, his first film Moon. This is not necessarily a criticism of Source Code or Jones, as repeated thematic occupations and narrative revisitation can be the sign of the auteur, and I’ve enjoyed both his films. But the films are, admittedly, structurally identical in several ways. Both involve a lone protagonist who discovers something unexpected about their identity that changes their relationship to their given tasks (Sam Bell realizing he is a clone in Moon, Captain Colter Stevens’s “near-death” state in Source Code), and combat some form of repression against a bureaucratic organizational body (a private corporation in Moon, military scientists in Source Code) while being assisted by an empathetic, benevolent subordinate of that organization (GERTY the robot in Moon, Vera Famiga’s Captain Goodwin in Source Code). But it is rather appropriate that both of Jones’s films be so structurally similar, for the major themes connecting them, and the narratives by which those themes are exercised, are enveloped in the topic of the repetitive structures of everyday life.

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If most thoughtful action films snagged a GED after dropping out of high school to train full time, Source Code is the kind of action film that went to college. Maybe it didn’t make it much farther than sophomore year philosophy, but that’s a good thing, because the movie knows how to drop some knowledge and still play a wicked, fun game of beer pong. Source Code is the best movie it could possibly be. Stream-lined and smart, refusing to condescend to its audience, filled with tense moments and active frustration – it may not have the hardest impact, but it’s a movie that sticks in your brain even after you’ve tossed the popcorn bag into the trash. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens – an army helicopter pilot who wakes up on a train that’s about to explode. He’s confused, frightened in a way that won’t allow him to show it, and when the train explodes, things get even weirder. He wakes up in a military training pod and told he has to go back in to find a bomb in order to stop another attack from happening.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr recovers from a full day of watching Armageddon back-to-back to crawl back to the multiplex. He re-lived the last eight minutes of Source Code over and over, thoroughly confusing himself. Then he stumbled into the theater next door to learn about the true meaning of Easter from Russell Brand and James Marsden. Things take a decidedly creepy turn when he watches Insidious and wets himself more than once. This led to a very unfortunate scene while he watched the sexual-predator cautionary tale Trust. No one would believe him it was just wee wee.

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Source Code really solidifies a suspicion we all have had about director Duncan Jones: he’s a real people person. Yes, unlike most sci-fi filmmakers, there is very little cynicism or dread to his films. While both Moon and his successful sophomore effort, Source Code, do explore the idea of man abusing science, ultimately, there’s a huge amount of hope in his work. Not only that, but he follows generally fun and – if a tad flawed – good people. That’s right, there’s no mopey, emo action lead in Source Code. Colter Stevens, the hero of the film, is the Han Solo archetype. He’s charming, brash, and sometimes, thinks more with his fists than his head. Stevens is quite similar to Duncan Jones’s previous antagonist, Sam Bell. There’s an everyman quality to both leads. They’re not macho. They’re not invincible. And they’re both flawed individuals. Like Bell, Stevens doesn’t shy away from acting like a jerk here and there. The predicament he’s in – once again, just like Sam Bell – raises ethical questions. Although Source Code isn’t entirely hardcore science-fiction, Jones does what all classical films of genre should do: ask a few questions. If you’ve ever seen Jones an interview before, then you already know he’s a personable and fun-seeming filmmaker. He manages to take that upbeat spirit of his and interject that good nature in his films, and as was the case with Moon, it works. WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers.

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Colleen Goodwin is a risky character in Source Code. Goodwin is the most exposition-reliant character, and if she was handled wrongly, this GPS machine could have been the most ham-fisted character of the year. Nearly every line Goodwin has is exposition. As an actor, as Vera Farmiga discusses, walking a fine line of being a character instead of a device is no easy task. For exposition to generally work, it requires a sense of urgency. Considering most of Farmiga’s screen time involves her talking on a computer screen, that must have made matters even more difficult. This type of exposition either flies or falls completely flat, so it was a smart move on Jones’s part to hire a pro like Farmiga. Although Goodwin is the main key to explaining things for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Colter (and for the audience), she’s also important for raising the main ethical questions of the film. By the end, Goodwin makes for a bit more than a lifeless and pandering talking head. Here’s what the well-spoken Vera Farmiga had to say about the art of bullshit, the difficulty of discussing Source Code, bringing realism to exposition, and more:

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If you don’t know who Duncan Jones is, it’s high time you learn. Jones burst onto the movie scene with his debut feature Moon, a low-budget sci-fi flick that wowed audiences at Sundance back in 2009. Picked up by Sony for US distribution, Moon is a subtle, quiet film featuring an incredible performance from Sam Rockwell, but the best part about it is that it’s a smart film. With the bright shiny colors and backseat plot propelling Avatar to eleventy billion dollars worldwide, it’s surprising that anyone rolled the dice on a small, smart sci-fi film. It’s refreshing that someone had the balls to say “yes” and doubly refreshing that audiences mostly embraced it. Now Jones is back at the helm with about 35 million of Summit’s hard-earned Twilight dollars to play with for his second feature, Source Code. Note: I saw Source Code blind and I think that’s a good way to see this type of film. I’m told the trailer gives away basically the same information that I’ll reveal below but it could be considered spoiler-y. If you’d rather go into not knowing anything, and I highly recommend that method of film-viewing, then please skip the next three paragraphs.

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Jake Gyllenhaal last foray into the action lead world wasn’t exactly a successful one. If you don’t know which film I’m referring to, it was the one where he had that interesting accent and played a prince of Persia. Still don’t recall that film? Understandable. But a year after seeing it, you may actually still remember director Duncan Jones’s Source Code and the lead hero of the film, Colter Stevens. Gyllenhaal is a charming guy. He’s the type of person you could throw a stupid question at who would give you back an interesting or, at the very least, a funny answer. Gyllenhaal rarely gets to show these charms on the big screen, which is a shame, but Duncan Jones smartly allows him to. Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is the type of leading man all us nerds like: he’s brash, witty, vulnerable, and even acts like a jerk at times. During a recent roundtable interview at SXSW we discussed what type of hero Colter is, Duncan Jones’s style, the script, the ending, and what’s going on with Nailed. There are a few spoilers, but they’re all clearly labeled and skippable:

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Pee-wee Herman and hipsters were not topics of discussions I was looking to tackle with Michelle Monaghan. Knowing I only had 10-minutes with Monaghan, I wanted to make every second count… so obviously, discussing how hipster infested Austin is and how I just had a run in with Pee-wee ‘frickin’ Herman before the interview probably were somewhat of sidetracks, and so was some nice small talk at the beginning. As for Source Code, it’s a tricky film to discuss. To fully delve into the film and its ideas, one most go into spoiler territory to get a fully meaty convo about the film, so beware of one or two spoiler alerts. But mainly, Monaghan and I briefly discuss Jake Gyllenhaal’s grey area and likable hero, attempting to grasp unique ideas in script form, and the questions the film raises. 

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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I’m going to share something with you. I have a sick obsession with sex movies. I don’t mean I always watch them with salacious intentions, because I have to draw the line between art and pornography somewhere. Let me be clear, I really enjoy a movie whose sole purpose is to titillate a viewer so much that they question what they are really watching. I’ve spent many nights snuggled up on my couch cringing my way through Catherine Breillat’s many sex shockers. I made a boyfriend attend a viewing party for the highly controversial, yet exceptionally boring, 9 Songs. I’ve even gotten into fights with Netflix over its recommendation of Salo based on my high rating of Irreversible. Those last two movies have nothing in common, by the way. Sex-centric dramas have been a secret, back alley passion of mine. But in all my years devouring these movies, I rarely see comedies that both deal frankly with sex and show it. Sex is usually the butt of a joke in comedies, rather than a catalyst for moving a couple forward.

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Last year, David Bowie’s son directed a film about Sam Rockwell being stranded all alone on the other side of the moon while his equipment and his mind fell apart. It was brilliant. That’s why it’s so exciting to see that his new film Source Code will be premiering as the opening night gala feature for the SXSW Film Festival in March 2011. The film focuses on a government program that allows agents to enter into the bodies of other people in the last moments of their lives. The program is used to make Jake Gyllenhaal relive a horrific train bombing over and over again until he can stop it from happening. The official synopsis from the SXSW press release is as follows:

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The new synopsis for Source Code is essentially the entire set up for the main character, so don’t read it if you consider that sort of thing a spoiler. Suffice it to say that this movie has great sci-fi potential both from the pedigree of the wacky Brit who gave us Moon and from the plot description below. It seems to expand on playing with time and reality in ways that were only hinted at in Moon. In short, it sounds great. The beefy synopsis from the American Film Market:

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the desert to grade Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

While Neil heads off to Dubai with his three BFFs to drink cosmos, shop in the marketplace and challenge Middle Eastern decency laws, Kevin invites fellow Fat Guys Fozzie Bare into the Magical Studio in the Sky to be a guest host, talking Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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If director Mike Newell were to take a rapper name, it should be ‘Money Shot’ Mike. For over the years, he has been developing the craft of capturing that one moment when the film’s shirtless, sweaty star is in clear focus, slowed to the perfect frame rate so that the audience can marvel in the 60-foot of an action adventure star.

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What do Sarah Jessica Parker, a high-flying Jake Gyllenhaal, and the honor of the men and women who fought and died for their country all have in common? On any, other weekend, the answer to that questions would be “absolutely nothing.”

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Joe Namath and Jake Gyllenhaal

All the way back in the dark ages — also known as 2007 — we reported about a project that would put Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of famed NFL quarterback and off-the-field Lothario Joe Namath. At the time, the David Hollander-scripted biopic was being shopped around, never to be heard from again. This week it’s back thanks to word from Pajiba, who say that not only is Gyllenhaal in, but he’s bringing Walk the Line director James Mangold along for the ride as well.

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
A

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