- A faithful henchman of variety

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BigLens.

Posted on March 6, 2018
by biglensfilm blog

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: A FAITHFUL HENCHMAN OF VARIETY

Before I begin, Id like to warn you, my dear reader, Im indeed not an alcoholic. Nor am I a drug addict, or glue sniffing addict, or any other kind of addict. That is true for all cases unless, my friend, you are discussing cinema. If so, then yes, I am a full-blown junkie. A big one. A really big one! I am someone youd refer to as a film-a-holic. And when it comes to talking movies, I usually not only have a lot to say, but also am rather strongly opinionated about certain aspects.

As someone who watches 1-2 movies a day (on average), there is a whole plethora of actors that I very much am delighted to see on the cinema/TV screen. There are a great deal of Hollywood stars and performers I consider extremely talented, but here I would like to talk about Jake Gyllenhaal, an actor whose talent, to me, is unmatched.

I cant remember the first film I saw him in, but from that moment he became one of my personal favorites. Now, I try to never miss a film of his. Studying his filmography, it seems he has not done that much yet, however, after watching the majority of his films, it becomes apparent that Jake Gyllenhaal has always, with great confidence, been a faithful henchman of variety. Role-wise, that is.
My wife once pointed out that the main reason I feel so in tune with this particular actor is that the characters he plays are at times ''so much like me.'' Now, the last time this notion came up was while we were watching Demolition (2015). I loved that film so much I almost freaked out. When I saw Jakes character a big, melancholic Davis sit down in front of a snow-white piece of paper, take out an expensive ParkerPen, and start to spill word after word about his subconscious and not-yet-very-evident grief over the loss of his wife onto the paper, I immediately thought to myself, ''this film is going into my personal Best-Ever List.'' The way the protagonist deals with his anger, depression, jealousy, and grief is something not many people I guess are ready to understand.

Another freaky coincidence I suppose you can call it that has found me whilst watching Denis Villeneuves psychological thriller Enemy (2013). No, no, I do not love the spiders that crawl all over the city throughout the film Im of course talking about the protagonist the diligent, scrupulous, phlegmatic teacher, Adam, whom I relate to a lot. I empathize with his actions and am just as curious and noisy as he. Antoine Fuquas Southpaw (2015) turned out to be less aggressive than I initially expected. Rather, it seemed very adequate, settled, realistic, and sincere. Once again, I felt very close to Jakes character, this time Billy Hope. This seemingly unserious yet a genius of a sportsman boxing champion was meant to be portrayed in a bright-dim-tragedy-comedy kind of light at least it seemed so to me, and in my opinion Jake Gyllenhaal implemented that concept very skillfully. With his charming smile and those sad eyes it simply is impossible not to hit that point. And once again, Jakes character, Billy, goes through a lot of changes and transformations throughout the film, and to me that felt very powerful and bold. Very beautiful, too. His character fights depression and grief in his own personal, cathartic way. And that is the kind of realism I value the most in his work.

Among Gyllenhaals most highly acclaimed works are emotional and philosophical drama Brothers (2009), morality-questioning thriller Nightcrawler (2014), and biographical drama Stronger (2017). Jake always manages to pick the right roles, all often distinct from one another, resulting in spectacular success.
Lastly, the most groundbreaking and sincere of his works, Brokeback Mountain (2005). This film is not only brave, but required a lot of wisdom, confidence, and maturity from Gyllenhaal and Ledger as professionals. In some ways, it ''springboarded'' them to an even greater scale of stardom.

A heartbroken cowboy (Brokeback Mountain), an emotionally unstable war veteran (Brothers, Jarhead), a phlegmatic history professor (Enemy), a morally ambiguous journalist (Nightcrawler), a vengeful boxer (Southpaw), a physically broken man who learns to live with his new prosthetic legs (Stronger) these are the roles, preparations for which must have been meticulous and dissimilar. He seems very much aware of his acting competence and as a result is doing so well these days. He bites what he can chew and never fails at deliverance and quality.

Ultimately, Im not a film industry worker, merely an amateur critic, writer, and kindhearted fan. However, if it were up to me, Id say Jake Gyllenhaal is deserving of an Oscar.

by Vadim Milevskiy

edited by Jules A Maines


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JAKE GYLLENHAAL: AN ADVOCATE OF DIVERSITY

Before I start this article Id like to warn you, my dear reader, that Im indeed not an alcoholic.
Neither am I a drug addict, or glue sniffing addict, or any other kind of addict.
That is true for all cases unless, my friend, you are discussing cinema. If so then, Yes, I am a full-blown junkie. A big one. A really big one! I am something youd refer to as a film-a-holic. And when it comes to talking movies I usually not only have a lot to say on the matter but also am rather strongly opinionated about certain aspects.

Now that I have introduced myself as a huge movie craving beast there is something very particular I have been wanting to point out for quite some time now a certain unfairness but we shall come it slightly later.

As someone who watches 1-2 movies a day (on average) there is a whole plethora of actors that I very much am delighted to see on the cinema/TV screen. There is a great deal of Hollywood stars and performers I consider extremely talented, although naturally my opinions do not always match the ones my colleagues or family members have. Hence here I would like to talk about an actor whose talent, to my mind, is so immense and limitless that I honestly consider his performances and acts unmatchable by any other sometimes even bigger film star. I am of course talking about Jake Gyllenhaal.

Should someone ask, I certainly wouldnt be able to remember the very first film I saw him in but I can assure you: ever since Ive seen this man on the screen he has without a doubt been not only one of my personal faves but also someone whose movies I try not to ever miss.

Should you study his filmography it would surely seem that he being still quite young has not done that much yet, however, should you watch majority of his works it immediately becomes apparent to all that over the years of his career Jake Gyllenhaal has always with great confidence and sometimes even risks been a faithful henchman of variety. Role-wise that is. Hence as you now see the title of this piece.

My wife has once interestingly pointed out that the main reason I felt so much in tune with this particular actor a magician, a craftsman of sorts is that the very characters he plays are at times "so much like me" that in most of his films she practically sees me, her own husband.

Yes, that is what she thinks; and perhaps in some ways it is true. I understand that. She of course is not talking about my own acting talent which I never possessed but the way his film characters behave in certain situations and scenes. Quite often wed watch something together and Id hear: "thats the way youd say it"; and "thats so typical of you"; or "oh, thats something youd have done, too"

I dont of course always surrender to her but I suppose there is always some truth to that what our wives say. Merely because we ourselves can never be objective enough. We can never judge without a prejudice, yet they our relatives can.

Now the very last time this notion came up was while we were watching Demolition [2015]. I loved that film so much I almost freaked out. When I saw Jakes character a big melancholic, Davis sitting down in front of a snow white piece of paper, taking out an expensive-gift-Parker-pen and starting to spill word after word about his subconscious and not yet very evident grief over the loss of his wife, I immediately thought to myself: this film is going into my personal Best-Ever-List. (Which, Yes, I totally keep. *wink wink*). And, No, after watching that film I did not go into my own kitchen with a set of tools and intentions to disassemble my own fridge. Neither did I smash my plasma with a sledge hammer or demolished our bedroom. But the way the protagonist of the film deals with his anger, depression, jealousy and grief is something not many people I guess are ready to understand. Yet I am one of those who certainly is.
Another freaky coincidence I guess you can call it that has found me whilst watching Denis Villeneuves psychological thriller Enemy [2013]. No, no, I do not love the arachnids and spiders that crawl all over the city throughout the film. Neither am I into that weird and disturbing porn the antagonist of the film is into.
(Although I do like any other man I guess enjoy looking at girls on high heels.)

Im of course talking about the protagonist a diligent, scrupulous, phlegmatic teacher, Adam. Which is, by the way, totally me. I have been teaching on a side as far as I can recall my professional life although my life is a lot more interesting than that of Adams. Not as gloomy, boring and lonely I guess. I mean how can one be bored when you have two jobs, two kids and a bossy Russian wife? Although the rest of the things that happen to Jakes personage Adam and the decisions he makes in film are very much the things I would have done, too. I am just as curious and noisy as he. Should I ever find out that I have an evil twin brother somewhere out there, there will be nothing stopping me from finding out his address and meeting him in person. Should my own evil brother the evil double, the perfidious doppelganger do any of the outrageous and treacherous things to me I shall what youd call in English "requite like for like".

Antoine Fuquas Southpaw [2015] has turned out to be less aggressive than I initially expected. Which I have to admit I quite enjoyed since to me the film seemed very adequate, settled, realistic and sincere. Once more and once again I felt very close to Jakes character, i.e. Billy Hope. This seemingly unserious yet a genius of a sportsman boxing champion was meant to be portrayed in a bright-dim-tragedy-comedy kind of light at least t me it seemed so and in my opinion Jake Gyllenhaal implemented that concept very skillfully. With his charming smile and those sad eyes it simply is impossible not to hit that point. And once again Jakes character, Billy, goes through a lot of changes and transformations throughout the film and its storyline; and I guess to me that felt very powerful and bold. Very beautiful, too. Somehow that motion picture manages to transfer the power as well as inspiration from via the screens onto the viewers. And once more his character does not fight depression and grief by walking around a lake with a sad piano melody playing in the background, but he does it in his own, personal, cathartic way. And that that! I guess is what happens to us, people, in real life, at the very moments of great sadness and troubles. I suppose the very realism is what I personally valued the most in that work.

Among a number of other Gyllenhaals pictures which at the time turned out to be highly acclaimed and received a great deal of accolades are: the emotional and philosophical drama Brothers [2009], morality-questioning thriller Nightcrawler [2014], and a biographical drama Stronger [2017]. And once again Jake has managed to pick just about the right roles having chosen to play things that are not only drastically different but are simply situated on opposite extremes of "sentiment-and-significance" specter. These roles ended up to be completely and utterly distinct from what the man has done earlier. And once again to me at least he was nothing but a success.

Tom Fords second film Nocturnal Animals [2016], in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays a role of a damaged a ruin of a man really writer, who is constantly haunted by memories of his former wifes hints at his weaknesses and naivety; as well as an abortion of their child, which throughout the film Jakes character obviously and apparently condemns pretty much referring to it as murder. And although you do not see the Jakes "writer" character a lot; and even though there were many parts to this motion picture that felt to me as way too disturbing and heart-breaking there were also many things I completely agreed on. Yes, in my personal opinion abortions are wrong, and I also agree that some of the sons-of-bitches in this world deserve to be crushed by the very hand of vengeance, but I guess by the very end of the film I realized that my disturbances and discomfort the scare and creeps of those dim, malicious and spiteful scenes were all due to them being way to realistic for my taste. However, I did still enjoy this motion picture and I of course applauded to Toms directing and Jakes acting talents respectively.

Lastly, since we are talking about Jake, I honestly do not see how we can go past the groundbreaking, sincere and most brave of his works, i.e. the Brokeback Mountain [2005]. Having first heard about the film I honestly thought that the sole purpose of it would eventually be catering to a certain fraction of the audience, however, actually sitting down to watch it I came to a sudden realization that the film was more than a film. What Ledger and Gyllenhaal did took not just a lot of guts, balls and bravery but a great deal of wisdom, confidence, and maturity. As men. And as professionals. In some ways I believe this film has launched Hollywood as the industrys unquestionable leader to a whole new level of artistic freedom and braveness; having at the same time ''springboarded'' Gyllenhaal and Ledger to an even greater scale of stardom.

From a heart-torn cowboy (Brokeback Mountain) to an emotionally unstable war veteran (Brothers, Jarhead) to a phlegmatic history professor (Enemy) onto an ethics combating stringer journalist (Nightcrawler) vengeful boxer (Southpaw) and eventually to a physically broken man who learns to live with his new prosthetic legs (Stronger) these are the roles, preparations for which must be meticulous and dissimilar. A single-role-John-McClane-kinda-guy surely wouldnt have pulled it. [Although, please, dont get me wrong - I very much love Bruce Willis, too.] The man knows how to pick roles. And he is completely different from picture to picture. Even for Hollywood! Its not often do we encounter someone who can (and apparently wants to) perform such a wide and seemingly limitless range of roles and parts. To me it looks as if he himself is very much aware of his acting competence and because of that he is doing so well these days. He bites what he can chew and he never fails at deliverance and quality.

Ultimately, Im not a film industry worker. Neither am I a jury at the Academy Awards headquarters. I am but an amateur critic and writer who also happened to be a kind-hearted fan. However, if it was up to me should you ask me Id say Jake Gyllenhaal is striving for an Oscar. And he totally deserves one, too. To me he deserves it more than some other professionals that already possess it. For quite frankly with Jakes scope of work tiresome, non-chroma-key performances, Jakes entirely diverse range of characters and roles with all this blood and sweat I honestly dont see how this acting titan did not get one yet.


Vadim Milevskiy

~February 2018



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