Tuesday, 30 September 2008

'It's impossible not to respond to Gyllenhaal's sweetness, wide eyes and dazzling smile'

With Chekov's Seagull opening on Broadway this Thursday, starring our very own Peter Sarsgaard, I'm in a theatrical mood, helped along by Peter's appearance in an Associated Press interview today. The interview itself takes place on the stoop of his Brooklyn house (complete with blueberry muffin).

For the role of Trigorin, Peter has 'grown a lush beard... and radiates both charisma and sleaze.' And in the interview we learn that, at the last minute and without warning, Peter switched his accent on stage to an English one in order to be less acceptable to the audience. After An Education, Peter should be well-versed and, of course, he can practise with the Prince of Persia himself.

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Brokeback Mountain is to be turned into an opera, we now hear that Bubble Boy is to be 'musicalised' (I've made that word up). At this rate we'll be getting Zodiac on Ice.

Bubble Boy has had its share of critics, after all, it could be construed as being slightly tasteless. However, that is because you have to suspend belief and feed the laughter glands by revelling in Jimmy's happiness at being out of his bubble room and into the big wide world (albeit while still in a bubble), where you can tread on dog poo, leap in sunlight pools, mud wrestle, have your first sip of beer and meet shiny happy people (not to mention a bunch of other lunatics), while chasing your blue-eye blonde-haired dream all the way to Niagara Falls.

This film was also Jake Gyllenhaal's first experience of the stunt world of being a movie star: 'I'm falling over waterfalls, flying in an airplane, and being tossed off motorcycles... I did a lot of the stunts because the bubble makes it safer to hit the ground.' Jake also defended the film when the Immune Deficiency Foundation called for a boycott: 'It's actually really political, and I think, while being political, really empathetic to people who might be considered sort of oddball and different, and so in essence it becomes different itself.'

Some critics really did get the joke - and the charm in Jimmy's situation: 'Gyllenhaal is fabulous as Jimmy, a charmed innocent who grew up viewing the world from a distance and inspires people with his purity and lack of cynicism. Once he leaves home in pursuit of love and experience, Jimmy could be an alien visiting Earth for the first time: Everything is new to him, wondrous and strange. This is a star-making performance: It's impossible not to respond to Gyllenhaal's sweetness, wide eyes and dazzling smile, or to imagine anyone whose looks or personality would be more perfectly suited to the role.'

'Equally brilliant is Swoosie Kurtz, who gives a wicked spin to Jimmy's sex- phobic, fiercely overprotective mother. Determined to keep her child clueless and celibate, Mrs. Livingston is prone to reading aloud from "Pinocchio" and improvising the ending: "And then Pinocchio touched the filthy whore who lived next door and died."'

When Jake read the script: '"I laughed out loud at the perversity of the script... It's funny, but it's also touching and warm. It's a beautiful love story, and it's a story about a boy finding himself." Gyllenhaal said the idea that the movie makes fun of such children is ridiculous. "They obviously haven't seen the movie," the actor said, "because the boy is the hero of the movie. The people who make fun of him in the film are shown to be idiots. If anything, I think the movie will help bring an awareness of the disease to people who never heard of it."'

Director Blair Hayes wanted Jake for the role on first sight: 'We literally saw hundreds of actors for the role, but when Jake walked in, Beau and I looked at each other and we knew," director Hayes said. "Jake has a way of immediately being sympathetic, lovable and cute. That was essential for any actor playing this role. But more important, Jake is able to play comedy and drama. In the hands of just a comedic actor, this part would come off as shtick, and that was the last thing we wanted. There are not many actors making films today who can pull off both comedy and drama like Jake. It's a Tom Hanks quality, and Jake already has it."'

And when you watch this film, it has to be with the commentary...

And finally

Jake is a theme of a new musical, Jason and Ben, currently being performed in NYC. The play is not getting particularly warm reviews but has a highlight: 'Cohen's songs are mostly fine, capable examples of 1990's Emo pop that would be better enjoyed outside of the show since nearly all of them lack theatricality. The score's lone attempt at humor, Ben's gushy tribute to the charms of Jake Gyllenhaal, is its clear highlight.' It's difficult to see the fault in anything that includes a gushy tribute to Jake Gyllenhaal. So that's a 10 out of 10 from me and I don't even need to see it...

Includes pictures from IHJ and links.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Zodiac DC DVD released in the UK - and movies to make you think and feel in Empire's Top 500 (oh, and Spandex Jake...)

Finally, the Region 2 edition of the Zodiac Directors Cut is released today in the UK. About time! I hope no-one was holding their breath.

So all those Brits and Euros without a multiregional DVD player can at last enjoy the extras - most especially the commentary with those two very smart, giggly and entertaining commentors - Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr - and also the behind the scenes documentary. This includes the gem of watching Jake losing his marbles while doing approximately 40 takes of just throwing down a book. It would seem simple, but no.

To mark the occasion, here are a couple of videos in which Jake discusses the case and the film. The first also includes a clip of Robert Downey Jr at the LA premiere of Zodiac (an event also attended, kind of, by WDW, but not by Jake). The nature of this David Fincher project was that the story was all and the script was meticulous, based on a clinical assembly of evidence. No free rein given, unlike in movies such as Jarhead, but instead, as Jake says: 'You're dealing with life and death and I felt an obligation to do it right'. He did just that and gave a performance to be proud of.

Jake discusses a little more about the 'Bible' that was assembled for himself and the other actors in this video feature with CBS. And in this USA Today video, Jake and Mark Ruffalo discuss their roles and how the process of making the film turned into what was in effect a re-examination of the clues of the case.

Empire's 500 Greatest Movies

Today, I received my copy of Empire and this November issue presents a list of 'The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time', as voted for by movie directors and readers. My copy has Stand By Me on the cover. Little did I know I could have had this version (which is now winging its way to me).

So Donnie Darko is the highest placed of Jake's films (at no. 53). Brokeback Mountain is a disappointing no. 191 (one below Big) but also disappointingly (for me) the topspot goes to The Godfather. At No. 15 (with a sold out cover) is The Dark Knight - the highest placed film of the 21st century. Lords of Dogtown is at 417, Interestingly, and rather coincidentally, David Fincher selected as his favourite film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which is placed at No. 32 : 'It's as entertaining as hell, and it's so beautifully made... Butch and Sundance is as funny, witty and charming as any movie has ever been.' It is a shame that Zodiac itself doesn't feature in the list.

And finally

A huge thanks to IHJ for uploading more new old pictures of Spandex Jake - including this picture below, which must now rank in my own personal top ten.

There are also pictures of Jake with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. As we remember, Diane was the one who said she fell out of bed on seeing Jake's amazing SNL performance. More than that, she got a Gyllenhug.

Includes pictures from IHJ and here.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Jake Gyllenhaal - 'it has been wonderful and it is wonderful'

Jake Gyllenhaal is 'one of those lucky few who could be a great actor and a movie star at the same time. I think you'll find that most movie actors aren't necessarily great actors and most great actors aren't movie stars.' So said Sam Mendes about his Jarhead Jake in an interview for the BBC. With the sad announcement yesterday of the loss of one of those few screen legends who really did marry great talent with that indefinable cocktail of magic that makes a movie star, it's good to predict that, in the coming decades, Jake could make good that promise foreseen by Sam.

The BBC feature reflects on an incredible year for Jake, in which he starred in Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead and Proof, all in all demonstrating that Jake is much more than 'well-connected eye candy'. As Jake says: 'I have a lot of opportunities and it has been wonderful and it is wonderful.'

Despite having movie star looks, Jake is happy to play with them in order to put on the suit of a character. In this video (see the link below), Jake discusses what is was like to cut off that hair and get the jarhead - one senses that Jake couldn't decide whether to be horrified or exhilerated; probably a mixture of the two. 'First, I was thrown off by it, it freaked me out, and then I started to love it... I'm doing a movie right now [Zodiac] where my hair is longer for the movie and I'm ready for when the movie finishes. I'm gonna cut it all off again. It's in me and I like it!'

'Jarhead' Cast Interviews
'Jarhead' Cast Interviews

'People say your hair's really your identity - you take it away, you lose some identity. But I think you're allowed to look at other things actually more than just vanity and stuff. Physically, I felt my presence much more. I just felt much more present for some reason.'

Always happy to have an excuse to discuss Jake's hairdo, I am for one relieved that Jake reconsidered cutting it all off after Zodiac - in fact he went the other way and grew it longer for Rendition (taking it to almost ponytail proportions with Prince of Persia). However, after Rendition and in time for Brothers, Jake did this for Interview magazine, which appeared on US stands a year ago.

Jamie Foxx also appears in this video (discussing his lovemaking music) and says how he continued to work with Jake once the cameras stopped rolling, encouraging him and advising him, in the same way that Will Smith had done for him.

While I'm in a Jarhead video mood, here is another one in which Jake and Peter Sarsgaard mention how much fun they had on the set, especially filming the football game (and no doubt the scene that followed it).

It also includes one of my favourite moments from any of Jake's films - Swoff reassuring the oil drenched horse.

Includes pictures from IHJ, Getty and links.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Farewell to a legend - Jake Gyllenhaal on Paul Newman: 'He taught me the things that could go wrong'

I always intended to do a Paul Newman post, but I left it too late. Not only was Paul Jake Gyllenhaal's 'celebrity godfather', he was also the first cowboy I fell for, in the figure of Butch Cassidy. And then, after that, I swooned again when Paul Newman, with another favourite Steve McQueen, took on and beat a towering inferno. I have a weakness for blue eyes but Paul Newman meant a lot more than that, on the screen and off it. A great and charismatic actor with a passion for fast cars, for good food and for his fellow human beings - irresistible mix and not quickly forgotten.

Many Gyllenhaalics also know of Paul Newman because he pops up with regularity in Jake's red carpet interviews - he's right up there with the jellyfish. Interviewers and audiences are fascinated by Jake's Hollywood pedigree and it's difficult to imagine anyone with more pedigree than Paul Newman. And the idea that a 15-year old Jake was taught how not to drive by a movie legend is almost too good to be true.

On the BAFTA red carpet back in 2006, I remember seeing Jake telling a Sky interviewer that this was a bit unfair on his dad, that Stephen had actually taught Jake how to drive, but it was too good an experience not to recount - imagine being driven round a racing track by Paul Newman! Admittedly, approaching a brick wall at 60 miles an hour would also be memorable. Netribution: 'People say, you know, ‘Oh, Paul Newman taught you how to drive, right?’ and I say, ‘No, my father really taught me how to drive and he’s getting a really bum rap because one day Paul Newman did take me out to the race track.’ I said that once when I was doing press when I was 16 years old and now that’s all people write. Believe me I was in awe when it happened. But I think people do sometimes, when I talk to journalists or whatever, kind of like to go, ‘Well, it was this way, wasn’t it?’'

This is how Jake described the unforgettable experience to the Metro: 'Paul Newman taught me how to drive. When I was 15, my mum was writing a script with him and we went out to the racetrack. He threw me in the passenger seat and started driving. We're 100ft from a wall, going 60 miles an hour and he hits the brake and turns the wheel - and the car spins three times. Then he turns to me and goes: 'That was what you don't do.''

Back in 2002, Jake also recalled to Interview magazine that Paul's glasses were dangling from his ear during the drive and that 'Well, you're going almost 200 miles-per-hour, if not faster, right? Your body and hands shake on the wheel as you drive... It's pretty intense.' (I should point out that similar effects can be felt in my car when it approaches 80 miles an hour - I think I'm in the wrong car.)

And showing above all how much a part of the Gyllenhaal household Paul Newman was, Jake told the Scottish Daily Record in 2004: 'I went to the track with him and he took me out in a race car. He taught me the things that could go wrong. When I eventually got my licence, he was at our house cooking steaks and had a knife in his hand. When I came in, he made me go down on one knee, knighted me and gave me my licence.'

In the days when Jake was becoming noticed as someone of great talent who should be watched, a similarity to Paul Newman was noted - and not just because of those eyes. The Telegraph said of Jake: 'Gravity disguised as lightness of manner: that is what critics have identified as the secret of his mesmerising screen presence. Like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, they say, he knows how to emote without words.' Jake has had a great role model and Paul Newman's loss will be huge for those lucky enough to have known him.

Prince of Persia's goats and chickens

I enjoyed this snippet today: 'Got up at 4 am to bring 5 goats and ten chickens to the Pinewood Studios. They feature in a film called Prince of Persia. We saw the set and had a nice breakfast sat between wonderfully dressed up actors.' Unfortunately no pictures were allowed but I have an image in my head of Jake having to act around 5 goats who are intent on eating the set. Should the production require other foraging critters, I would be happy to oblige and can be reached day or night.

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Backstage on Prince of Persia - and Jake Gyllenhaal 'cuts the mustard as an action hero'

Thanks to JakeWeird for uncovering some Prince of Persia backstage gems! Here are four behind the scenes videos from the set in Morocco, with the caption: 'Backstage of the Disney feature film; Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), shot in Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Agdez Arfoud Morocco.' No obvious sign of Jake Gyllenhaal but nevertheless great to get some glimpses of the environment in which Jake's been working during recent weeks.

Yesterday we were looking at some of the Prince of Persia news that emerged during Jerry Bruckheimer's presentation at Disney Day in Hollywood this week. There are more pieces today. [Thanks to IHJ for some new old pics, including this beauty.]

Empire Online: 'We saw some brief clips and animatics from Mike Newell’s upcoming Prince of Persia, which looked really strong and could be the movie to break the curse of the videogame adaptation. Jake Gyllenhaal, in the title role, is really buffed up, and we saw a couple of cool but brief swordfight sequences which proved he could cut the mustard as an action hero. Gemma Arterton looked stunning, and we also saw some really interesting concept art of the bad guys, some of whom can shoot snakes at people. We also got a brief animatic look at the way Gyllenhaal's character can pause time. This looks like it could be a very nice surprise.'

Shoot snakes at people - at Jake! Oh my...

This reviewer on seeing the footage said: 'The production is only in its first few weeks of shooting so there weren't any completed shots but they did show some of footage from dailies, on set and animatics/pre-viz. I have never been the biggest fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, but I have to admit, he looks pretty bad ass as Prince Dastan... Not much of the story was revealed, even though the script has been reviewed by multiple online outlets. Prince of Persia is massive - the sets are huge, the action sequences are huge and the only thing that comes to mind is that this is another Pirates of the Caribbean in the making.'

Meanwhile, students have been invited to help Disney come up with some ideas for a new theme park ride, and you can guess which film it's based on.

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Hollywood's Disney Day! Jake Gyllenhaal shown 'running around, fighting, doing some jumps' and there's time travel...

There are people in the world who have this week seen raw footage from the Prince of Persia and have seen video of Jake Gyllenhaal discussing his role. Yesterday was the Walt Disney Showcase at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, during which we learnt that Disney are making enough movies during the next few years to circle the earth eight times over in DVDs.

But never mind, because, in addition to another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and another National Treasure movie, and another Tron movie (this is a good thing!), a movie starring Johnny Depp as The Lone Ranger, we are being tempted into the cinemas with Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia - and, you know what? they have me.

While we wait for more accounts of what was seen and heard by the lucky few, this is what we've heard so far today: One site said 'It looked really cool!' (although they had yet to make their mind up about Jake...) Here is what another said: 'It was a montage, basically, with narration of what the film was about cut together w/ interviews w/ Bruckheimer, Jake and a couple other cast members. It showed him running around, fighting, doing some jumps, showed some very rough animatics and storyboarded together shots, some details about the villains trying to get the Dagger. A cool villain with a purple cloak whose arms turned to snakes and he thrust them into the ground. They went after someone looking like TREMORS. Jake looked good with his painted 300 abs I'm sure. Looks promising though thus far.'

While ignoring the 'painted' abs comment, there are several things to note here about the project. Firstly, this film is receiving so much attention now, we can expect to be bombarded with tasters during the coming year or so and we should be prepared for so many DVD extras we won't know what to do with them, especially if Jake has been filmed talking about his role already. Secondly, Jake is 'running around, fighting, doing some jumps'. I ask for little more in life than that.

This site said: 'We got an early look at Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which featured a ripped Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead. It seems the movie will stick fairly close to the plot of the video games, and time travel will play a significant role.' Time Travel? I need to know more.

Yesterday, we included a look at Ben Cooke, Jake and Daniel Craig's stunt double. It seems Jake is not the only one with a double in Prince of Persia - Ben Kingsley has one too. Here is an anecdote from the travel diary of a Peace Corps traveller in Morocco: [In Ouarzazate] 'I tried taking my friend to see the Taourirt Kasbah, an old mud fort near the center of town, but we very nearly walked into Sir Ben Kingsley's stunt double as they shot what looked like a funeral procession in a small strip in front of the Kasbah. The movie is called "Prince of Persia," and filming the probably 2 second shot of the back of Kingsley's character riding down near a "village" with mourners wailing and a black carriage following was more fun than it should have been. We thought it was Sir Ben himself, and looked rather foolish, but had fun trying to take pictures as my little security friend pointed out people who had cameras out and then his friend, nicknamed "The Beef" walked over threateningly at them and pretended like he was going to tear them limb to limb.'

'A tour bus pulled through and stopped right in front of the Kasbah (we sat on stadium-like steps across the street) and they all had cameras and were taking pictures, so we cheered them on, clapping and screaming; other spectators around us first were confused, then joined in. I made friends with the little baby security man, who spoke Tashelheit, but he told me he couldn't run any notes to the other side of the street. I'd have invited them to Tamazitinu, but, eh… a lost opportunity. I guess I won't be making tagine for Sir Ben or Jake Gyllenhaal any time soon. Or their stunt doubles.'

It is my own experience, that you should always beware 'The Beef' on film sets and red carpets. So ears open and eyes to the ground (or is that the other way around?) to see what we can find out about Disney Day in Hollywood.

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Gyllenhaal, Jake Gyllenhaal, at your service

Today we have been introduced to Jake Gyllenhaal's stunt double for the Prince of Persia, the likeable and bouncy Ben Cooke. As is befitting a Jake Double, Ben has also doubled for Daniel Craig in the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace.

So... not only is Jake's Princess of Persia Gemma Arterton one of Bond's lovely ladies in Quantum of Solace, and not only is Jake currently filming on the 007 stage at Pinewood Studios (hot on the heels of QoS), but now he shares a double with Bond. These coincidences can mean only one thing - Jake could/should/will (delete as appropriate) be the next James Bond. I have been giving the matter serious thought and have established that Jake will be entirely suitable, especially now he has mastered the English accent (albeit the medieval Persian variety).

Bond looks good in a suit - Jake looks better. Jake has also learnt the skill of coordinating his suit to match the dress of his leading ladies. You cannot learn this skill, you must be born with it.

Jake has an appreciation of cars and other modes of transport, including boats (a common Bond requirement).

If all else fails, Jake can run...

Bond girls would like Jake.

Jake would be great in a fight and is used to all manner of weaponry, ranging from a rifle and sword to a gaze from those blue eyes. He could also disable a foe with a bus ticket.

Jake is extremely good to have about in a perilous situation (even in an end-of-the-world scenario).

Jake is well known for his appreciation of gadgets.

That is not just a straw and those are not simply crutches...

No regular award would contain such a sophisticated bugging device.

Bond is a jetsetter but no-one jetsets like Jake. And he can adapt to all climates and landscapes.

Bond has to appreciate the finer things in life - ie, booze and cocktails (and ice cream).

Bond always has a secret weapon.

Bond should be able to rally local official agencies.

Jake can blend in.

Jake has CIA experience.

Jake is able to talk through code.

Jake can mix with fellow agents.

Jake is cool (and have I said hot?).

Jake will do nicely... Includes pictures from IHJ.