Tag Archives: Antoine Fuqua

The Guilty

Well damn.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Joe, a disgraced cop who’s been busted down to dispatch duty, manning the 911 desk until he can clear his name. On his last shift before he’ll get his day in court, he takes a call that will change his life.

On the other end of the phone, Emily whispers platitudes in a wavery voice, as if to a child. Joe nearly hangs up on her before sensing something fishy. Staying on the line with her, he establishes that she’s been abducted and her captor believes she’s on the phone with her daughter. Careful to ask only yes or no questions, Joe teases out her general location (albeit in a moving white van), her status, and a working theory of what’s going on. He notifies California Highway Patrol, but they’re busy handling wildfire calls. Emily is choking with fear, begging to be saved, and some part of Joe responds. He’ll break protocol to go above and beyond for her, risking his job and his hearing tomorrow to bring Emily home safely, where 6 year old daughter Abby and baby Oliver wait – alone.

You might argue about what movie made Tom Hardy a star, but the movie that confirmed his talent as an actor was undoubtedly Locke, a film that only stars him, just a man driving a car alone at night, talking through a crisis on the phone. Jake Gyllenhaal does the same here. It’s just him and his headset, obsessed with solving this case without even working it, perhaps unconsciously looking for redemption, definitely influenced by longing for his own young daughter and estranged wife. Every call that a 911 operator picks up has the potential to be this call. It’s high-stakes, high-stress, high drama. Joe decides to involve himself, to over-involve himself, to save this woman without leaving his desk.

The Guilty is Gyllenhaal’s best role since Nightcrawler, and it has to be in order to work. It’s just him: the sweat on his brow, his nervous fiddling with an inhaler, his increasing frustration with everything and everyone unrelated to this case.

We’re experiencing this call nearly in real time alongside him; the tension is very real, but Joe’s got to handle this with one hand tied behind his back. He’s technically done his shift. He’s definitely out of bounds. He’s calling in favours he can’t afford. And though he maintains an outward calm, his anxiety is manifested in shallow breaths and a refusal to retreat. We stay with him, often right up in his face, chasing bad guys and demons. My heart was in my throat. I don’t think I let out a single breath until the end of this tidy 90 minute movie.

We were about 20 minutes into the film when I suddenly realized that I’d seen it before, an admission that surprised Sean considering we were watching its world premiere. In fact, it’s a remake of a Danish movie also called The Guilty, a movie I quite enjoyed, according to my review. I enjoyed the remake just as much, if not more. Director Antoine Fuqua knows how to how to build tension, how to hold tension, how to release it for just a blink before taking it up again, only harder, longer, more intense. As you can imagine, it doesn’t relent during the film’s entire runtime, and both we the audience, and Joe the weary dispatcher, begin to come undone. Joe, at first overconfident and a little arrogant, begins to fray as this case goes through its twists and turns, confronting him with his own flawed ego.

Sean was less enamored with the film, frustrated by its limitations, by action never seen. Your appreciation of this film will vary according to your tolerance for incredible acting and taut, tense story-telling. Sean would have preferred car chases and explosions. Maybe boobs. Well, definitely boobs. Always boobs. I, however, was totally hypnotized by Gyllenhaal’s performance, dizzied by Fuqua’s directing, which makes clear how personal Joe has come to take this case. Fuqua’s material is normally much more action-oriented, but for The Guilty he keeps it intimate, while still finding the suspense, the edge-of-your-seat stuff that keeps us riveted, sick with anticipation, imaginations fueled by adrenaline. Gyllenhaal’s performance is informed by terrific voicework by Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Bill Burr, Paul Dano, and little Vivien Lyra Blair, who is formidable. But on set, Gyllenhaal was alone, tethered by his headset, giving essentially an 11-day monologue. On screen it translates to an instant connection, an immediacy fostered by savvy editing, a film that drags you in and won’t spit you out until all the cards are on the table.

The Guilty is an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival.

It will have a limited theatrical run on September 24, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on October 1.

The Magnificent Seven

magnificent-seven-2016-castThis is a western where the good guys wear black. Where you cheer for the outlaws, where a woman shoots better than most of the men, and where a black man can be the unquestioned leader of the posse. It is a more multicultural west than we are used to seeing, and it feels natural, like this is how it always should have been.

And why not? If you have Denzel Washington in your western, then he should be in charge.  He’s the lead. He takes command here and it’s clear right from the start that what Denzel says goes. haley-bennett-magnificent-seven-2016All the outlaws he recruits fall into line and work with him and for him, to save a little town that a gold baron has taken
by force.

Chris Pratt is the first to sign up and it’s great to have him along for the ride. His brand of comedy is welcome and he also manages a convincing quick draw.

The other five join up quickly thereafter, from Ethan Hawke’s shellshocked southern sniper, to Byung-hun Lee’s soft-spoken knife expert, to Vincent D’Onofrio’s nigh-unstoppable hick
who’s been in the sun too long.  Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s Mexican outlaw and Martin Sensmeyer’s kick-ass Comanche warrior sing up as well. I would have liked to see more opportunities for the last two to contribute, as the movie was at its strongest when the entire crew was riffing off one another while preparing for the final showdown against Peter Saarsgard’s gold baron and hundreds of his henchmen. That’s an indication of the strength of the cast, from top to bottom.1461168127-the-magnificent-seven-trailer

We seem to be in the middle of a western revival over the last few years, illustrated by the fact this was not my first western this month. The Magnificent Seven is not an instant classic like Hell or High Water, but Antoine Fuqua delivers an enjoyable popcorn movie that earnestly serves up a high noon showdown. Feeling like a throwback already, catch it as a matinee for extra authenticity.

Naturally, the Magnificent Seven gets a score of seven rootin’ tootin’ gunslingers out of ten.

 

 

TIFF 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Pratt is swarmed by fans and autograph seekers as he arrives in Toronto

The Toronto International Film Festival kicked of last night, September 8, with the premiere of Magnificent 7. The party started the minute Chris Pratt stepped off the plane and strutted through Pearson airport. He manages to look pretty happy about being swarmed though, doesn’t he?

Actually, technically the party started the night before, at the traditional benefit gala. This year Michael Fassbender was the guest of honour, where he confessed that his super power was his ability to nap anywhere, anytime, and that his biggest challenge was learning lines (a real obstacle to taking on the Steve Jobs role, a wordy Aaron Sorkin script). Fassbender has a somewhat limp movie in theatres right now, The Light Between Oceans, but he’s also got one screening at TIFF: Trespass Against Us, where he plays Brendan Gleeson’s son who is trying to escape his crime family’s fate. Fassbender’s no stranger to TIFF, having been 2016 Toronto International Film Festival - TIFF Soiree With Special Guest Michael Fassbenderpart of the 2013 People’s Choice winner, 12 Years a Slave. In fact, he mentioned that when he and director Steve McQueen first met, McQueen hated him, and called him arrogant. Was it nerves? Fassbender’s not sure, but the two went on to collaborate very successfully three times.

Michael Fassbender wasn’t the only star on hand Wednesday night: Canadian stars Pamela Anderson and Martin Short were part of the pre-show at the AMBI gala. Short was dressed in his Jiminy Glick and interviewed the Baywatch babe (who was actually looking pretty good in a stunning gown) and elicited her 2016 Toronto International Film Festival - AMBI Galatop-secret beauty regime – “donuts and sex.” Honourary co-chair James Franco and his creepy little mustache were in the audience, and weirder still, so were Mike Tyson and Billy Baldwin, among others. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, Earth, Wind & Fire performed.

Thursday night was all about Magnificent 7. It’s a remake of the 1960 classic with an obvious twist: Antoine Fuqua deliberately chose a diverse cast, and then just as deliberately chose not to have race mentioned much in the movie. He cast friend and frequent collaborator Denzel Washington in the lead role; Denzel, having earned an Oscar under Fuqua’s direction in Training Day, jumped at the chance to work with him again. Fuqua, meanwhile, maintains “I just wanted to see Denzel Washington on a horse!” Don’t we all.

Magnificent Seven is meaner and edgier than its predecessors, and funnier too. Chris Pratt, as you can imagine, has a lot to do with that. He even had reporters in stitches in the press conference, declaring that the whole ‘remake’ question was moot: “Eventually you just run out of namesmagnificent-sevenjpg-jpg-size-custom-crop-1086x724. If I have a son named Chad, is he a remake of somebody else named Chad? No! And I’m not going to give him another name like Schnarkle. This [The Magnificent Seven] has reach. It gets people engaged. But it’s probably a lot more The Wild Bunch than it is The Magnificent Seven. We used the title. We used the story. There are seven guys and we’re all fucking magnificent. But let that movie [the 1960 version] be that movie. This is a different movie.” For now we have to take his word for it, but Magnificent 7 will be out in theatres September 23rd, and you can judge for yourself. Last night, significantly more than just the 7 magnificent bastards walked the red carpet, including Peter Sarsgaard, who was easily mistaken for a homeless person. Both Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke struck a lot of goofy poses as they were quickly ushered along the press line (they were running 30 minutes late!) but it was Denzel Washington who created the biggest crush, and he still had a smile for everyone.

Late, late on Thursday night, there was another premiere at the kickoff of TIFF’s Midnight Madness programming. The midnight movies are not always horror, but they’re scary or violent or grotesque. Last year Matt saw Hardcore Henry at Midnight Madness; this year he’ll be taking in Headshot. Some of the Midnight screenings are surprisingly commercial, with the new Blair Witch set to make its debut, and Emile Hirsch bringing his new film, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and last night’s screening bringing out some big stars indeed: Brie Larson and Armie Hammer for the new Ben Wheatley movie, Free Fire, a genre homage to vintage action movies.

Check out the comments section for more photos, and be sure to be following along on Twitter where we’ll be posting all the action, as it happens: @AssholeMovies