Southpaw

After a summer of not going to the movies a lot the last week of July was a big movie going week for me. I went to the movies three days in a row. The first film I saw on the last Tuesday of July was “Southpaw”.

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The biggest reason I saw this film was for Jake Gyllenhaal followed closely by Rachel McAdams. Since I hadn’t been to the movies all that much this summer I never saw the theatrical preview for the movie, as a result I was unaware of certain plot points. For that I was extremely grateful. All too often previews spoil some of the biggest events of a film.

I’m not the biggest fan of sports movies, in general, but there is something about boxing movies that I find riveting. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching the “Rocky” movies with my parents but there is something about the grittiness of the sport that lends itself to some great drama out of the ring.

I don’t want to spoil the plot points I wasn’t aware of so I’ll mainly focus on the performances. Jake Gyllenhaal has made a career of transforming himself into his characters. If one looks at his character in 2013’s “Prisoners” and compares it to 2014’s “Nightcrawler” and then compares it to “Southpaw” the only common trait is the actor that portrays them.

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They are very different characters. Gyllenhaal is fantastic here. For a man who was so convincing as Jack Twist in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain” to do such a great job play a boxer who is a child of the foster care system is really remarkable. It is a fantastic performance. Along with Robin Williams work in “Boulevard” (check out my review of that film: https://jeremyochsgonzales.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/boulevard/) we should have our first two contenders for 2015’s Best Actor Oscar.

Rachel McAdams is more often known for lighter Rom Com/Nicolas Sparks fare. Yet, this year she seems determined to reinvent herself as a serious dramatic actress. Along with her work on “True Detective” there is her supporting role in this film. I really think this is the best performance she’s ever given.

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Like Gyllenhaal she completely transforms herself into her character.

Credit for these two great performances, not to mention young Oona Laurence who plays their daughter, has to go to director Antoine Fuqua. This is the best film he’s ever directed; I’m not a big fan of 2001’s “Training Day”.

The film is still around in theatres. It really is everything a movie going experience should be. Please don’t go see the lame reboot of “Fantastic Four”. Go see this instead.

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