Jake Gyllenhaal: the fighting philosopher

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Jake Gyllenhaal’s rage, Halle Berry’s abandoned ship, A24’s psychics, and a chocolate lizard.

Let’s go!


JAKE GYLLENHAAL: THE FIGHTING PHILOSOPHER

With Jake Gyllenhaal, violence is an art form.

In one pivotal moment in Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal takes a knife and stabs the mirror, piercing the eye of his imaginary friend, Frank.

Although aimed at Frank, this metaphor for self-inflicted violence is the cornerstone of what makes a Gyllenhaal performance so watchable because we know that under his physical transformations, whether that be emaciated (Nightcrawler) or jacked (Southpaw), he is tormented.

We like to see Gyllenhaal breaking at the seams.

Whether that’s his psychological degradation when confronting his literal doppelgänger in Enemy or losing himself to violence as a cop in Prisoners and End of Watch.

Gyllenhaal elaborated:

“Denis Villeneuve, who’s the director of Prisoners, really pulled off what he said he would — which is that violence begets more violence, and that’s the idea of this film. And that, really in this case, it’s about control. The question of what do we do when we feel out of control? And oftentimes, in a situation like this, violence seems to be the answer. But I think what Denis Villeneuve is trying to say is that it really isn’t. That it gains nothing, [it] does not give you more control.”

His latest Road House, a UFC fight film, follows a similar philosophy.

Here’s the official synopsis:

An ex-UFC middleweight fighter ends up working at a rowdy bar in the Florida Keys where things are not as they seem.

What makes Gyllenhaal electric to watch is behind the armor of his physical transformation; there’s a decaying psychological terror, forcing us to confront our latent fascination for violence.

Amazon is releasing Road House direct to Prime on March 21.

For More:

The original Road House (1989) trailer starred Patrick Swayze and a shockingly young Sam Elliot.

The new Road House (2024) trailer drops tomorrow, but check out a jacked Gyllenhaal throw a mean punch on set.

Read director Doug Liman’s (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) blistering opinion piece on Amazon’s evil “algorithmic” decision to cancel a well-earned theatrical release.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Netflix shelves The Mothership, starring Halle Berry, despite having a strong creative team:

Here’s the official synopsis:

One year after her husband’s mysterious disappearance, Sara Morse discovers a strange, extraterrestrial object underneath their home. She and her kids are on a race to find their husband, father, and the truth.

Reshoots were ultimately abandoned during the lengthy post-production process, as the child actors had visibly aged since the original production in 2021.

Berry is still in good standing with Netflix, as her next project with them is The Union.

Here’s that synopsis:

Mike (Mark Wahlberg), a down-to-earth construction worker from Jersey, is quickly thrust into the world of super spies and secret agents when his high school ex-girlfriend Roxanne (Berry) recruits him on a high-stakes US intelligence mission.

Seems a little reminiscent of The Family Plan.

The Union is currently in post-production.

Fincher & Mann + Coen. Despite David Fincher and Michael Mann having strong projects this year (The Killer, Ferrari) that showcased their meticulous technical prowess, neither were recognized by the Academy.

Here’s an update on their latest projects:

Skydance, led by David Ellison, proposed acquiring Shari Redstone’s share in National Amusements, which is pivotal in Paramount Global’s control. Details remain undisclosed as negotiations continue.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Tessa Thompson signed a first-look deal with Amazon MGM Studios. Her production company, Viva Maude, has 20 film/TV projects in development.

Thompson stated:

“I founded Viva Maude to create more room: room for our collaborators to think more boldly, room for artists to grow in new ways, room for dreaming bigger as to what a production company can do. Amazon MGM/Orion Pictures prove themselves time and time again to be true partners in creating ambitious work, and I’m thrilled for Viva Maude to have such thoughtful leadership in our corner.”

Thompson first made a splash with a small on-screen role in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls (2010). She’s gone to play Michael B. Jordan’s girlfriend in the Creed films, a forlorn musician undergoing hearing loss (clips). But her standout role is her zanily purist social justice artist in Sorry to Bother You (2018, BTS clip).

She is currently starring and producing in the upcoming Hedda, based on the powerful canonized play Hedda Gabler, in the titular role, often regarded as one of the finest female roles.

Bill Skarsgård plays the non-verbal deaf man in Boy Kills World.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A dystopian fever dream action film that follows Boy, a mute with a vibrant imagination. When his family is murdered, he is trained by a mysterious shaman to repress his childish imagination and become an instrument of death.

The stills are all kinds of amazing:

Apparently, he fights a deranged matriarch in an apocalyptic wasteland.

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have just picked up the film after the team went crazy for it at TIFF.

In theaters April 26.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

Spike Jonze (Her) and Celine Song, who was just nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for Past Lives, deep dive daydreaming for two hours.

Word by Word, a weekly Zoom show born out of last year’s work stoppage, which hosted the talk, offers free access.

Watch it here.

Takeaways from top Sundance producers, including Cassian Elwes (The Butler, Mudbound, I Origins) and Jamie Patricof (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, The Accountant):

  • Streaming killed the indie
    • Less revenue from theatrical, DVD, and Cable TV
  • Indie films that surpassed $20 M at the box office are down 30% since 2018
  • Apple/Amazon/Netflix distort the marketplace by paying large sums and not reporting their results

Elwes spoke about art house distributors of yesteryear:

“They used to have output deals with Cinemax or HBO. Now they have to go sell one movie at a time to streamers. So it makes them nervous to buy films, gambling whether they will ultimately be sold to SVOD [Streaming Video on Demand].”

Patricof said:

“It’s never an easy process selling a film, with all the challenges you’re continuing to see for independent films being acquired and distributed and being successful. As a producer with a film to sell, it’s no secret that the film business overall is changing and evolving. The myth of the overnight multimillion-dollar sale has been gone for a long time for most films, and I’d argue it was an unhealthy process.”

They also acknowledged that Sundance wasn’t programming enough films with big Hollywood stars. This leads to less of a buyer presence at the festival (WME didn’t have enough clients to justify a lounge presence).

But at a private brunch at Sundance, they offered a few solutions, like building micro-communities for paid content and pressuring billionaires.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

From renowned storyboard artist to studded indie filmmaker. Mark Lambert Bristol has done storyboards for some of the best films:

Indie:

Hollywood:

After directing a B-movie in the 90s, Bristol has just directed his second feature Accidental Texan, starring Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) and co-starring Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix, Memento) and Bruce Dern (Nebraska).

Here’s the official synopsis:

After blowing his first big acting job in New Orleans, Harvard-educated Erwin Vandeveer finds himself stranded in Buffalo Gap, Texas, where he is taken under the wing of irrepressible, almost-bankrupt, oil driller Merle Luskey (Church), who sees Erwin as his “Savin’ Angel.” The two set off on a crazy fun-filled adventure to outwit the bank, the sheriff, and a corrupt oil company in a frantic race to hit pay dirt before Merle’s dreams are foreclosed.

Bristol said:

“I was determined to make a film that explores the universal themes of community, trust, and forgiveness framed by Texas’ iconic landscapes. I believe the world needs more feel-good movies that champion the beauty in human nature, and Accidental Texan delivers just that.”

Roadside Attractions had acquired US rights. The film will open in theaters on March 8th.

A24 is psychic. Their Sundance documentary Look Into My Eyes profiles psychics. Although there are a number of comedic moments in the film, it centers on how the psychics’ personal experience with loss and trauma fuels their work.

Lana Wilson (dir: the Taylor Swift doc Miss Americana) had a lightbulb moment when she randomly visited a ‘Five Dollar Psychic Reading’ on a street corner seven years ago.

She recounted what the psychic told her about their clientele:

‘You would not believe the situations people come in here with. They come in at real crossroads in their lives when they have nowhere else to turn.’

Wilson had an epiphany:

“I realized I thought of psychics in a very trivial, light way. And I thought it would be extraordinary to make this the setting for a film where we get to see this wash of humanity come through these doors and hear the questions they’re asking, and then see what they’re talking about.”

According to the reviews, the documentary is quite profound. The film is currently seeking distribution.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

“We are sneaking him from Hell.” The ember-singed visuals in the Deus Irae trailer are extreme, even for a genre film. The movie was acquired for North American sales by XYZ Films (Blackberry). Reel Suspects (We’re All Going to the World’s Fair) just took the worldwide rights. It is the debut feature of Argentine filmmaker Pedro Cristiani.

In his own words:

“A trio of excommunicated priests hunt the possessed down to exorcize them under their own terms: with Bibles, fire and shotgun.”

Yeah. Let’s go!


ON THIS DAY

2009. 25th Sundance Film Festival: Precious, based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire wins Grand Jury Prize Dramatic.


See you Friday.


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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