Gyllenhaal finds ‘most adult’ role in complexities of ‘Southpaw’

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BLOGS OF THE DAY: Jake reveals how Heath Ledger’s death changed him.

Jake Gyllenhaal says words cannot express how “incredibly special” Heath Ledger was to him, and the impact his Brokeback Mountain co-star still has on his life. “I think losing Heath and being a part of a family that was something like the movie, the movie we all made together, makes you see that, makes you appreciate that and hopefully moves you away from the things that really don’t matter to the things that do,” he said. “I’m trying to have relationships that are as real as they possibly can be on a movie set, be close to people because I know that it’s precious,” the Southpaw star admitted. “And I know, not only can this career end in a very short period of time and this or that can happen, but that life is precious.” — James Franco is taking his fandom of Lana Del Rey to a higher level, with the news that he is to follow up an essay he wrote about the singer earlier this year with a full book, to be released in 2016.

When the trailer for Southpaw was released, action movie fans and fight aficionados were pumped to see Jake Gyllenhaal step into the ring as they hoped the Oscar-nominated actor would add a level of prestige to the boxing drama genre.Coming less than a year after Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn as a skinny creep in Nightcrawler, the actor’s physical transformation in Southpaw — in which he plays a professional boxer — is nothing short of astonishing.First came rave reviews for his two-day stand as Seymour in a concert staging of Little Shop of Horrors, and now he’s garnering praise for his portrayal of prizefighter Billy Hope in Antoine Fuqua’s redemption tale of the ring. “It’s a nice thing to hear,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter of the positive critical response. “Hopefully the movie works. While Gyllenhaal’s performance packs an emotional punch, overall, Southpaw relies too heavily on played-out boxing cliches trotted out countless times before on the silver screen.

The creations of the director, Antoine Fuqua, and the screenwriter, Kurt Sutter, seem to have been freeze-dried, cut into card-sized tiles, and laid out sequentially—sustaining only the shallowest definition of character, connected only by the thinnest string of motive, and hermetically isolated from the practicalities among which the action ostensibly takes place. Hopefully people respond to it.” Written by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), Southpaw follows light heavyweight champ Billy Hope, whose life falls apart when his beloved wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), is caught in the crossfire between he and a prizefight challenger, Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez). It follows a short essay called Shades of Cool he wrote for V magazine earlier in 2015, and will be published on March 15 next year. — Universal Pictures officially announced on Wednesday that a follow-up to this year’s record-breaking box office titan will be released on Friday, June 22, 2018. Lackluster rivalries and generic training montages aside, Gyllenhaal shines as fictional light-heavyweight champion Billy Hope—despite all of the film’s flaws.

A fit of rage costs him his boxing license and he loses his daughter to child services before hitting the comeback trail with the help of disgraced trainer Tick Wills, (Forest Whitaker). Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), who grew up in a Hell’s Kitchen orphanage, is the undefeated light-heavyweight champion, but he brings a bitter art to the sweet science: his method is to absorb a vast amount of punishment from his opponent until, seized with rage, he fights back with an irresistibly violent fury.

He was incredibly special, and that doesn’t even come close to encapsulating who he is — who he was.” Jake also revealed Ledger’s death, which was reportedly caused from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, made him re-assess his life decisions. “I think that’s why I like to go off and I like to try and get into worlds that will wake me up… I’m trying to be present where I am. As you’d expect, it wasn’t easy — but a series of interviews have offered some insights for any masochists looking to replicate Gyllenhaal’s eight months of training: People has an exhaustive rundown of Gyllenhaal’s six-hour-a-day workout routine, which was developed by trainer Terry Claybon. Not a particularly original tale, as many critics have noted, but Gyllenhaal’s transformation into the kindly, though brutish, Hope is a revelation. “Jake didn’t have a stunt double,” notes McAdams, who says she sometimes joined her costar and director in the ring on their twice-daily workouts. “These boxers train for six months to go maybe twelve rounds.

The announcement comes as little surprise, given that Jurassic World is the highest-grossing movie ever distributed by Universal. — Gyllenhaal’s primary concern was ensuring that he came across like a real boxer, so his workout routine was similar to the kind of training practiced by actual professional fighters.

The beloved brawler must battle back from the brink of total self-destruction in order to rebuild his life, career, and more importantly, his relationship with his child. There were times when it was like, Oh my God, is he going to be okay, is he going to make it?” Gyllenhaal’s career path is as eclectic as the three movies that launched him in 2001 — cult favorite Donnie Darko, Disney’s low-budget Bubble Boy and art house dramedy, Lovely & Amazing. Gyllenhaal’s diet consisted of carbs in the morning and protein in the evening. “I said, ‘Jake, you have to train like a fighter,'” said Antoine Fuqua, the director of Southpaw. “I can’t have you faking it.

Instead, Billy gets into a scuffle with a potential challenger in a hotel ballroom, a gun is fired, Maureen is killed, and Billy is left to raise their young daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), alone. While movies like The Fighter and Raging Bull were better at showing the ups and downs of being a boxer, Southpaw hits hardest when it focuses on the psychological toll of being in the fight game.

Possessed by grief and anger, he quickly loses his championship as well as his license to box, destroys his reputation, loses his money, and loses custody of Leila, who becomes a ward of the state. Set to the songs of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the book centers on Seymour Krelborn (Gyllenhaal), who harbors a secret crush on coworker Audrey (Ellen Greene) at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists. You can feel the loneliness and despair eminate from Gyllenhaal’s character, a true-to-life representation of the utter isolation fighters sometimes feel.

The closest Gyllenhaal ever came to being in a musical was the time he auditioned for Moulin Rouge, which is why it took some coaxing by Fun Home creator, Jeanine Tesori, (who had seen him in Constellations) to get him to play Seymour. It’s no spoiler to say that the movie’s other virtue is found—briefly—in these later scenes, when Tick retrains Billy and teaches him skills that the dethroned champion lacks.

The clincher was a plant she sent him with a bloody Barbie doll cut into pieces and a note reading: “Just do it.” “I saw the movie when I was a little boy,” recalls Gyllenhaal. “I remember seeing Ellen Greene, and she’s this sort of sexual, odd creature that I remember being like, What is cleavage?” He got to revisit his boyhood fantasies being paired with the 64-year-old Greene from the original production, but the experience also gave him insight into his career up until that point. “All of a sudden I realized why I had done all the movies I had ever done. For all the story’s classic elements, its core throwback is to the sense of oversupervised overproduction, the sort of rigid controls seen in studio filmmaking from the nineteen-thirties. But back then, that control was exercised by producers who, in many cases, were creators in their own right, people whose business sense arose from their story sense—which arose, in turn, from an authentic popular touch, a fundamental intuition for the great average, for the big emotional targets in their customers’ hearts.

Their sense for that sweet spot elevated the work of the industry’s vast run of skilled professionals and frustrated its handful of original artists, who chafed under studio control and thrived in a later day of independent production. The producers of “Southpaw” haven’t created a film of people for people; they’ve populated the movie with humanoids, mere semblances of people who are endowed with the imitation of life by the thankless exertions of the extraordinary actors who embody them—and whose faces and voices might as well be applied digitally. The modicum of pleasure delivered by “Southpaw” arrives thanks to its cast, who struggle bravely and energetically with the hopelessly bland text and the invisible, impersonal direction. Gyllenhaal slurs and shambles, steams and rampages, swirling with generic energy that, in the absence of cues from the script, he seems to have wrenched from the depths of his training.

In this context-free context, their able and thoughtful efforts seem less like performances than like stunts; the frenetic and spectacular display of actorly work conveys such detached virtuosity that it undercuts, from the start, the very human touch that it signifies, and for which it substitutes. I recently described “Terminator Genisys” as a “simulacrum of a movie”; the same applies here, and there may be a connection between the two, in the creation of movies for an international market.

That’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s a recent one, and it accounts, in part, for the plethora of superhero movies and comic-book-based movies that studios produce—stories that don’t depend on a sense of place, on characters bearing particular local traits, or, for that matter, on characters who bear much resemblance to people anywhere. But because such movies are largely about the technological transformation of humans, the process and the subtext fold back into the subject and become both reflexive and symbolic. It’s a midrange drama made in a movie economy that has trouble sustaining the format; it’s a delocalized, international-style midrange drama, and, as such, it’s a contradiction in terms.

There is almost no process in the film, as if displaying the detailed workings of courts and businesses, of transactions and interrogations, threatened to reveal state secrets; there’s no depth of character in the film, as if the wild vectors of the inner life, the diverse impulses and loose ends of which a personality is made, might undermine the plot’s robotic inevitability.

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