Saturday, 30 June 2007

Maggie flies high while Jake gets wet for a good cause

On Thursday night (28 June), Qatar Airways hosted a glitsy, star-studded bash to celebrate its launch last week of non-stop flights to New York and, there among the stars, ready to dine on caviar and Dom Perignon, chill out to Diana Ross and play with their freebie iPod nanos, were Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Saarsgaard as well as Chloe Sevigny.

This sounds to me like one of those glamorous, red carpet events that I will always think weird and I will never understand. Thursday night's gala, held at NYC's Lincoln Center, organised by 'party planner to the stars' Colin Cowie and hosted by Andie MacDowell, wasn't a charity event, it was solely about the promotion of an airline. Speaker after speaker extolled the opportunities that this venture will allow, enabling more people the choice to travel thousands of airmiles in Qatar Airlines luxury. Presumably, these people meaning those people who were at the bash. And I daresay the words 'carbon' and 'footprint' weren't on the gourmet menu.

Ironically, this event coincides with the discovery of an interview recorded between Jake Gyllenhaal and Matt Lauer for The Today Show, in which Jake discusses the dual purpose of his film The Day After Tomorrow - to entertain and be fun while highlighting the cause of global warming and environmental catastrophe.

This interview highlights above else what fun Jake had making a movie that he had no idea of how it would look when it hit the screen. Apparently, at his first viewing of the scene in which Hollywood was trashed by twisters - one of Jake's favourite scenes "for so many reasons" - he leapt to his feet shouting "This movie rocks!" Not only that, Atticus did the same thing. Jake tells us how the water tank became a lavatory but that it added authenticity: "A wave like that could make you go to the bathroom in your pants." When asked if it troubled him that the tsunami approached NYC from an impossible direction, Jake quips "But when a wave's that big I don't really care."

True enough, these things don't matter, and The Day After Tomorrow's primary purpose is surely to entertain and amuse. But, as Jake says: "every movie should have a reason". This movie is built upon events that actually took place 10,000 years or so ago and, accidentally or otherwise, the film did prompt some discussion and, as Matt Lauer points out, some used it "to bash the Bush administration". Thursday's gala event to me seems to be from another world.

Pictures from Women's Wear Daily, JustJared and IHJ.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Zodiac and Rendition - potential winners?

As Variety reminds us today, the year is half over which means that half of the year's contenders for the 2008 Oscars - and the other award ceremonies for that matter - have now been seen, slept through, criticised, argued about, marvelled over and maybe forgotten. Variety highlights some of the major players from the first half of 2007, including all those mighty sequels, and speculates that the Cannes Film Festival may be an indicator of where the Academy should look. And that means 'Paramount's impeccable David Fincher drama "Zodiac," which may find a wider audience via DVD and screenings.'

Then Variety goes on to look at what we and the Academy might expect to interest us in the second half of the year. And there in October is Rendition and Jake Gyllenhaal.

I know we've been disappointed before - I could barely look at the Oscars this year without getting a twitch and disturbing flashbacks - but next year we may have a lot to celebrate. But if the Academy lets us down again, there are always other academies ...

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Jake's superhero Donnie

We have been talking a lot here recently about Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead, contrasting the roles of Jack Twist and Swoff and speculating as to their effect on Jake Gyllenhaal's growth as an actor and as a human being, as well as the impact of these films on us. In the case of Brokeback Mountain, for some of us, it could even be called longterm damage. However, it is quite possible that the film of Jake's that is most widely respected and admired is not even Brokeback Mountain, but Donnie Darko.

Today I saw an article which reflected that the biggest takers at the box office are those with the biggest budgets, meaning that more modest films can slip through the net and be missed. I've mentioned this before, particularly in regard to Maggie's films; Sherrybaby and Stranger than Fiction were absent from my cinema. The writer lists five films which, he argues, viewers should seek out. And there amongst them is Donnie Darko.

Released in 2001, almost immediately after 9/11, it arrived in US cinemas at a time when filmgoers had little interest in films. Not surprisingly, Donnie Darko disappeared almost without trace, until it was revived with the DVD release in the spring of 2002 and then a Director's Cut in 2005. The film proved particularly popular in the UK. Now this complex, mystifying and strangely satisfying film is almost venerated and can be endlessly discussed in pubs, not least because to many it can seem unfathomable. What is for sure is Jake's superb, charismatic interpretation of superhero Donnie, as he takes on the bizarre task he is given - to put the world to rights at the highest cost.

Just last week the American Film Institute (AFI) released its revised list of the top 100 movies. This is a controversial list, not least because neither Donnie Darko or Brokeback Mountain are on it although Rocky and Titanic are. However, other organisations have been more receptive. FilmFour in the UK released its own list last year - the 50 films to see before you die list - and there was Donnie Darko at No. 9. Also, this month, a vote in New Zealand to discover that country's favourite top 100 films put Donnie Darko in the top 10. But it's not just the film; its incredible soundtrack, so evocative of that period, has also led the polls. Gary Jules and Michael Andrews' Mad World was a Christmas number 1 the world over in 2003.

There is so much to say about Donnie Darko and we will, but this brief feature has been inspired by our recent conversation about the meaning of Jake's roles for us. I realised that Donnie Darko was my introduction to Jake and that, however many times I watch this film - both versions - and listen to its soundtrack, I discover more and, even though I might not understand it all properly, I love to seep myself in its atmosphere, its fabulous cast and just admire the craft of Jake. He taught me everything I know about smurfs.

The pictures below were taken at the premiere of the Director's Cut in Hollywood in July 2004.

Pictures from IHJ.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Maggie, Heath and Batman take a break in NYC

While we wait for Jake Gyllenhaal to unpack his bags from his recent trip to North Idaho, San Francisco, New York or southern England, and while we ruminate on whether it was for business or pleasure and resign ourselves to never knowing, I thought I'd take a look to see where Maggie is these days. Filming on The Dark Knight is continuing in Chicago, although it has now moved to a garage location for the Bat Cave. This means that not only can the traffic drive around Chicago in relative ease for a few days, but that, apparently, Maggie can take a break. She was spotted on Saturday in New York City wearing Ramona in a very fashionable black moby which, I have to admit, I had never heard of before today.

What's more unexpected is that filming in the Bat Cave doesn't seem to even require Batman or the Joker either. Both - in other words Christian Bale and Heath Ledger - were in NYC as well and, not only that, they had a meal out together, mainly consisting of greens. You can take down the Reserved sign now, Heath.

Photos from Celebrity Baby Blog and

Jake back in LA - and we never even knew he'd left!

It just shows that Jake Gyllenhaal has finely honed the art of keeping us guessing when it comes to his whereabouts. On 25 June, Jake very visibly returned to Los Angeles, where he was accompanied or met by the fun-looking redhead that we last saw in Cannes. And there was the lovely blonde ready and waiting to collect Jake. Rumours go that he has returned from North Idaho, where he may have been, or may not have been, in the company of last year's summer companions Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey. The main thing to note, however, is that I was convinced that the next time we saw Jake the beard would be in full splendour, but no! It's gone, the hair is cut and, what's more, Jake is in my very favourite ensemble - white T-shirt, boots and The Jeans. You just can't expect to walk around an airport looking like that and remain unnoticed. So here's today's definition of beautiful - Jake!

Thanks to Stephanie at IHJ for these.

And here's the photo from Cannes:

Lots more photos at IHJ.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Jake on Jarhead - Everything about it changed my life

We've spent some time over the last few days thinking about Brokeback Mountain, swapping stories and memories about our first viewings which, for many of us, I'm sure, was our first proper introduction to Jake Gyllenhaal and what he's capable of on the silver screen. Jake has talked about how Jack Twist made him re-examine his attitudes towards love, just as Jack did for the rest of us, but it interests me and surprises me that Jake has said that the role closest to him in character is that of marine sniper Anthony Swofford in Jarhead, who seems as far removed from that lonely, hopeful cowboy as two men can be.

Jake physically transformed himself to play Swoff and, having overcome the initial shock of getting that jarhead cut on camera (something I can hardly bare to watch!), seemed to revel in this newfound physical power and even the aggression that came with it. The most infamous expression of this was during a scene between Jake and Brian Geraghty that cost Jake a piece of his tooth. Jake has described what happened honestly: "And so I, for some reason, just started hitting him, and I just got so angry that he had chipped my tooth. And I just started hitting him. And we didn't talk for like a month, actually, after that. It's actually a testament to Brian because Brian is nothing like the character he plays. He's just amazing in that scene." Jake has also said: "The day that I lost my tooth was a very, it was a really interesting day. It was a point at which I realized that, I had told Sam before we started, I was like ‘I’ll throw up in the sand for you. I’m going to do anything I can for you, but I never thought I would chip off my tooth for you because that’s permanent.’ Vomit’s vomit but your tooth’s gone." Brian Geraghty is possibly too charitable: "Well we had a little time apart from ourselves but I mean, it was a very intense scene where he almost kills my character. ...Everything was fine. We took it to the limit. Hopefully when you see the film you’ll acknowledge that. We’re better for it."

It's the idea of a bootcamp which seems to have dominated Jake's thoughts, both from the moment when he won the role and through the shoot. It was boot camp and what he might face there that motivated his strenuous daily training regimen of running, swimming, biking and lifting weights. Jake talked of his fears of boot camp in Happenings magazine (November 2005): "I knew they were going to try and do stuff to me, so I wanted to be physically there and ready. And then we got to bootcamp and I realized I was in shape and I thought 'Oh, they're going to beat me up. They're going to do whatever they're going to do and they're really going to screw with my head.' And I was ready to get a barrage of insults and all that and I had really prepared myself and they did do that, but the way, I realized, they really got me was they'd be nice at times and I'd be like: 'Oh, they like me. Oh, that's cool.' And they'd be like 'Bam!' And you'd be like, 'What?'.

During the whole week at boot camp, Jake says he had no more than ten hours sleep "and my head was just in such a weird space." Because the movie was filmed chronologically, Jake's first day was spent having his head slapped about and thrown into a board. Therefore, Jake's transformation mirrored that of Swoff and the Jake we see at the end is quite possibly not the same man.

What stands out is that Jake managed to cope with this type of brutality because he was protected by the director Sam Mendes. "He made me feel like nothing I could do was wrong... I just remember being like: 'What? Really? You really want to know what I think?'... so Sam kind of surrounded you with a sense that nothing you could do was wrong and in doing that you could take any risk you wanted... I've never felt calm and cool and collected. Sam sets a tone that's very like you're free to be who you are."

It is almost as if Jake sees his selection for the role and then the gruelling rehearsals and shoot as part of his progression towards adulthood. "[Sam] saw that there were things that probably other people, other directors, hadn’t seen before and he wanted to push. Just the idea of wanting me for everything that I could give, that I could just do whatever I want and not be wrong, gave me the opportunity to go to a place where I think - in knowing that you’re a stable enough human being - that whatever choice you make is going to be okay. I feel that’s part of what being or becoming a man is, in knowing that the choices that you make, you have a good enough conscious time to do that, whatever you do will be alright. And that’s what Sam sort of like ushered me into."

I think we will see a strong contrast in Rendition - I believe here we will see an actor, of ourse always ready to learn, but one who has become that man.

"Then there was also just being around a lot of people who I really respected and looked up to. People like Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, who are in my opinion, really admirable men. And also our military advisors who are, to me, people who have been and seen some really incredible and awful things and are still kind, caring, really cool people and particular grown ups. So I just looked up to all them, and the things they did I tried to emulate at times. Then it was just a process of growing up. Sam opened me up to that. It’s weird because I think on movie sets, people tend to act immaturely, or they’re allowed to. Sam would actually ask for the opposite so we just, that’s how it went."

In the Happenings interview, Jake is asked what he's happy to talk about. "Like any cognizant, relatively healthy human being, I know that there are things that I like to keep to myself and there are things that I know I don't mind sharing with people. I don't mind sharing the reality of this movie because everything about it changed my life. So, it's not like a problem for me to share the things that were ups and downs. We bickered as much as we celebrated on the movie. I don't think there is anything to hide. There are things that aren't that interesting to people that I try to keep to myself."

The filming of Jarhead was hot on the heels of Brokeback Mountain and inevitably Jake has been asked to compare the two experiences. Honesty, bluntness and openness characterise Jake's answers. In the RadioFree interview: "Both Sam and Ang have changed my life regardless of the result of any of these films. The processes of both movies have changed my life, and that's what I take away with me. And everything else is just fun. [laughs] And is a laugh, sometimes. And feeds the ego." In Happenings, Jake says of starring in two such remarkable films, "It's extraordinary. I worked with two really extraordinary filmmakers and you can't get anything but something interesting from both of them... We worked really hard and both of them made sets that were intimate and their own. We never knew if they were going to succeed or not, whether they were going to be good movies or not, it just seemed like they were. It's a freaking great feeling." To quote a famous quote: "Frankly you don’t say no to Ang Lee and you don’t say no to Sam Mendes, and you beg both of them no matter what you’re doing in either of the movies. Whether you’re wearing a Santa cap over your dick or whether you’re making love to Heath Ledger. You just don’t say no to them, that was why. I think that both stories are written by… I mean the short story of ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and the book of ‘Jarhead’ are just two of the most kind of extraordinary pieces of literature."

For those of us who will never look at a Santa cap in quite the same way again, Jake finishes his Happenings interview celebrating that other legacy from Jarhead - The Body: "I like to think of (myself naked) as more figuratively, than literally, but I think that there it is and I'm fine with it and all the training paid off and I'm confident in my body and it having no clothes on it." Glad to hear it.

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Rufus may be Jakeless but he was sublime

I never need an excuse to repost a favourite picture of Jake Gyllenhaal - but tonight I actually have one. Here are amazing pictures of Jake belting out, in a manner I only wish I could imagine, the closing words to Between My Legs, much to the joy of an ecstatic audience and a very happy Rufus Wainwright.

My excuse is that I have spent the evening in the company of said Rufus Wainwright - admittedly along with approximately 2,000 people - and can say with a big grin on my face that I've had the time of life. So, at the risk of being a little bit or even a big bit off topic, here are some pictures from this evening (bear in mind I was a long, long way from the stage and there was an usher watching me closely). Sadly, Rufus was Jakeless this evening, but we did get to see him singing most of the songs from his new album Release the Stars with a voice that I will never be able to give true credit to. Rufus sang even more beautifully than he does on disc and with even more soul. He joked with us about the difficulty of some of the songs, occasionally missing a note or messing a piano chord, but he carried us with him as he played with the beauty and power of his voice.

At one point, while incongruously but perhaps not unexpectedly dressed in lederhosen, Rufus sang without microphones a traditional love song, Malushka (forgive me if this is misspelt), dedicated to a blue-eyed beauty. There was only one blue-eyed beauty in my mind as Rufus enthralled us all. For the encore, Rufus appeared in a white robe which was finally discarded, as high heels and lipstick were donned and applied, and we had Judy Garland singing Pack Up Your Troubles. Rufus has stunning legs and a band that knows how to have a good time, dancing their hearts out in tuxedos.

I was fortunate to share this wet, windy and fabulous evening with Ruby, Major Grooves and his lovely friend. Major Grooves will no doubt give his own account of the evening, but his will be full of insults for the surrounding audience, who were keen to give us their own rendition of songs - while hiding my coat. If anyone would like to pay Major Grooves a visit and heckle him, please do. He craves attention.

Oops, how did Justin get in here ...

Everyone has a Brokeback - sometimes we get to go there, sometimes we don't

I really want to thank everyone for their very moving comments yesterday as we sat around the figurative campfire and reminisced about what our first viewing of Brokeback Mountain was like. I have no doubt that we'll do that again here as I think most of us will always have time and heart for Brokeback. So when a friend told me all about this interview, I couldn't pass it by, and I hope that people will humour me for having two Brokeback posts in a row! I for one am still in the mood for some daydreaming about Jack and Ennis and this just does the trick - yet again we are treated to Jake expressing with such earnestness what this film and role meant to him in terms of love.

The interview was recorded during the Venice Film Festival in 2005 when, of course, Jake was just 24, reminding us of how young Jake was when he took on the role of Jack Twist. It also makes me appreciate the extent to which Jake must have thought about love in his own life and in that of Jack as he sat on that lonely mountain during gaps between takes, making him sound wise beyond those young years.

"Everybody says love has no bounds," Jake says, "and we all subscribe to that idea... It's become such a cliche that we don't really believe that, because when it comes really down to love has no bounds, we don't buy it... I stay within a form of 'Is that OK to do? Is that OK to do?' And this movie was like it has no bounds... These aren't like two gay guys. These are two people who fall in love and from the environment that they're in, which is incredibly lonely, they find each other."

Ang Lee supports this incredibly personal and private impact that his film has had on both its actors and its viewers and maybe himself; "Everyone has a Brokeback - sometimes we get to go there, sometimes we don't." And he speaks with pride of his young cast, aware that he captured something so special on camera: "They're innocent, they're in the pivotal point in their career. They're becoming characters that carry the movie... They're smart, talented and the look's just right. They still have that innocence and they listen! Sometimes it's like the best times in their lives and I just want to capture them." And how he did.

Much thanks and love to my friend for sharing the interview with me. Includes pictures from IHJ.