Jake Gyllenhaal Is ‘Stronger’ In New Movie

By Chris Narloch

While we wait for the “Blade Runner” sequel – which is reportedly fantastic – to be released on October 6, there are several noteworthy new movies that are also worth spending your valuable time and money on.

Among the latest releases in theaters are high-profile pictures starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Cruise, and Judi Dench. There is also an all-star disaster dud entitled “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” that is so bad it has to be seen to be believed.
Stronger

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite actors and not just because he’s so darn handsome, but because he chooses interesting roles and projects.

His latest movie, which features Gyllenhaal as a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, is no exception.

“Stronger” could have gone wrong in a million ways, but it steers clear of sentimentality, exploitation, and shallow uplift thanks to its terrific cast, script and direction.

Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, a real guy who was on the sidewalk to support his runner girlfriend when the bombs exploded near him. He lost both of his legs as a result.

The complexity of Bauman’s relationship with his girlfriend and the often-funny coarseness of his blue-collar family add a great deal to the film, but it’s Gyllenhaal’s tough performance that really carries “Stronger.”

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the actor receives an Oscar nomination for his work in this movie when awards season rolls around early next year.

“Stronger” is currently in wide release.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

This crazy movie is a textbook example of what can happen when a studio gives a filmmaker free reign to make a sequel after a movie is a surprise success.

The first ‘Kingsman’ movie was an entertaining, mildly subversive spoof of classic James Bond films, and its stars – Taron Egerton and Colin Firth – appeared to be having a great deal of fun.

Egerton and Firth are back in “The Golden Circle,” and they are joined by famous costars such as Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, and Halle Berry for an overstuffed, over-the-top sequel that goes on and on.

The film’s absurd plot is never believable for a second, and the director tries way too hard to make the movie seem hip. Elton John even shows up playing himself in a ridiculous subplot that feels like total desperation.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is currently in wide release.

Brad’s Status

Nobody plays neurotic self-doubt bordering on self-loathing quite like Ben Stiller, and the actor is in fine form as Brad in this thoughtful if uneven dramedy about a father who experiences a mid-life crisis while touring colleges with his son.

Stiller’s character can’t seem to stop embarrassing his son and himself in front of their friends, and those scenes are both funny and hard to watch since dad just doesn’t know how to quit when he’s behind.

The movie doesn’t go deep enough – Brad’s relationship with his wife is almost totally unexplored – but “Brad’s Status” is an honest attempt to make a real movie about a real guy with real problems (or ones that he thinks are real anyway).

“Brad’s Status” is now playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

Victoria & Abdul

How can you go wrong with a period piece that stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria? The terrifically talented British actress has already played Victoria in 1997’s “Mrs. Brown,” and this time out the Queen bonds with an Indian servant late in her life.

Although the movie’s script is a fictionalized concoction, “Victoria & Abdul” is an entertaining tribute to the power of unlikely friendships, and Dench and Ali Fazal (who plays her servant turned teacher) are delightful.

“Victoria & Abdul” is now playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

American Made

If you are a fan of the ageless movie star Tom Cruise – unfortunately, I can’t say that I am – you will want to check out this well-reviewed, comic action film directed by Doug Liman (“Go,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”).

I haven’t seen “American Made” yet, but Cruise plays a TWA pilot recruited by the CIA who somehow finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert operations in the history of the United States. (Can you say Iran-Contra Affair?)

I have no doubt that Cruise’s killer grin gets a workout, and that should be enough for his millions of fans.

“American Made” is currently in wide release.



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