Demolition (2015)

Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

Screenplay By: Bryan Sipe

Cinematography By: Yves Bélanger

Starring: Jake Gyllenhall, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper & Judah Lewis

Runtime 101 minutes

I’m going to watch anything Jake is in so when Demolition came on HBO my viewing of this movie was bound to happen. To my surprise I found this movie to be extremely compassionate. I’m not exactly shocked at how terrible of a reception this movie received when it was released because of how sentimental it is, but call me sentimental because this is a much better film than the critics were giving it credit for. “Fuck the critics!”

Honestly this is a deeply rich film about apathy, grief, and life itself. As Jake’s character searches for a renewed view on life so do we. I found Demolition to be extremely effective to the point where the climax of the film had me teary-eyed. I found Demolition to give it’s characters (most of) the justice characters deserve but rarely find these days.  I found Demolition to have heart and humor, soul and passion.

Usually this kind of movie is melodramatic or standard indie fare; striving to be sympathetic with hints of comedy but ultimately leaving with everything feeling very thin and surface level. I think Demolition goes deeper than that and succeeds on many basic levels. I think that where most movies like this try and be profound and aren’t, Demolition doesn’t try to be and is.

Lastly, I believe my reception to this film was based on expectations. I was expecting a crappy film, thin with a weak plot and weak characters. I found something that was much richer and for that I thoroughly enjoyed my time and found Demolition to enhance my life experience. Demolition has something to say about life and we should listen.

God Bless America



Nightcrawler (2014)

Directed By – Dan Gilroy

Screenplay By – Dan Gilroy

Cinematography By – Robert Elswit

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal

117 min.

If there were more movies like Nightcrawler we’d either live in a better more understanding world or a society full of psychopaths. Either way, there probably should be more movies like Nightcrawler because it was fucking good.

Gyllenhaal is a beast, a scary creepy ultra-resourceful beast as Louis Bloom. I mean Gyllenhaal’s eyes are so wide throughout this entire movie, his neck so long, and his hair so greasy that he isn’t Jake Gyllenhaal on screen but Louis Bloom. He’s not “unrecognizable” because there are no prosthetics or intense make-up, but it’s Gyllenhaal being completely and utterly someone else. It’s beautiful.

The story itself is awesome, critiquing modern news programming while increasing the stakes with a deliberate and steady progression. Louis Bloom is a psycho that quickly understands what sells and uses that knowledge to exploit situation after situation.

Louis Bloom isn’t a robot, but he has very little humanity in him, just like TV news programming.

God Bless America

Donnie Darko (2001)

Directed By – Richard Kelly

Screenplay By – Richard Kelly

Cinematography By – Steven Poster

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal

113 min.

For those of my readers (haha plural like there’s more than one of you, or any of you at all) who know me, I like to end my October Halloween Horror Movie Month Marathon with Donnie Darko. It’s not necessarily a horror movie but it sure is a Halloween movie and for my money’s worth, it’s the best Halloween movie around.

As I’m always learning more and more about film I am so surprised when a movie I love withstands all the arrogant things I learn about filmmaking and film viewing. Well, it turns out Donnie Darko is a fucking brilliant film and will continue to be brilliant no matter what I learn or how I would like movies to be, thank you (insert which ever deity you pray to here).

I will start with I watched the director’s cut, and always watch the director’s cut. It’s the cut Richard Kelly wants so it’s the cut he will get. But every fucking aspect about this movie is amazing and mind blowing and I fucking love every second of this movie.

The family: The Darko’s are an awesome fucking suburban family. Father Darko is the man, who drinks and curses with his son when appropriate, but also understands how hard life is for Donnie. Mother Darko is “bitchin’ but [she’s] not a bitch”. Older sister Darko is actually Donnie’s real life sister so the chemistry is through the fucking roof. And Little Sister Darko is cute and brings the innocence to the table that the rest of the family lacks.

The school: While this is my favorite Halloween movie, this also might be my favorite high school movie too. All of the high school scenes are intelligent and thought provoking, and when it’s not Donnie calls it out on being bullshit. Donnie is so on point in his high school classes the there’s even a random shot of the teachers in the teachers’ room just shaking their heads in amazement saying “Donnie Darko” and laughing.

The Cast: Both Gyllenhaals, Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, and Seth Rogen. Not to mention that the acting from the entire cast is incredible.

The Camera Work: Any film student who is interested in precise and well motivated camera work should watch this movie.

The Soundtrack: The soundtrack is so important to this film and so well picked and edited to it makes me what to jump up and down in joy.

Frank and the Therapist: Frank is a 6 foot tall bunny rabbit…enough said. The Therapist scenes are terrific and filled with some of the most tension of any of the scenes in the movie. The two scenes specifically is when she puts him under hypnosis and in one instance Donnie awakes with his hand down his pants and in the other Donnie awakes with him and the Therapist hugging each other with a stuffed animal in-between them.

The New Girl: The new girl fulfills any if not all of the new girl/girl next door fantasy’s any American boy/male might have. She’s cute, appreciates the weirdness of Donnie, and yet is smart and challenges him. She’s also one of the things that propels the story forward.

Time Travel: THERE’S FUCKING TIME TRAVELING IN THIS MOVIE! All of the theories about time in this movie are so thought provoking it’s unreal. This is not just a movie, watching Donnie Darko is an exercise in philosophy.

Donnie Darko: Donnie Darko is such a fantastic protagonist and so completely out of his mind, it’s beautiful. He’s also extremely funny (i.e. the entire Smurf dialogue).

Donnie Darko is a post-modern suburban America masterpiece and I am thankful for it.

God Bless America.