Tom Sturridge Can Hear The Sobs: The Actor Talks About Off Broadway’s Heart-Wrenching ‘Sea Wall’ – Deadline Q&A

Read on: Deadline.

On nights when Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal perform the two monologues that make up the Public Theatre’s critically acclaimed Off Broadway double bill Sea Wall/A Life, the British half of the duo silently takes his place on stage as the audi…

‘Sea Wall/A Life’ Review: Tom Sturridge & Jake Gyllenhaal Deliver Powerhouse Performances Off Broadway

Read on: Deadline.

In the Public Theater’s double bill Sea Wall/A Life, Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver scorching performances that can stand alongside anything on the New York stage so far this season. The pair – also currently co-starring in Netfl…

‘Sea Wall/A Life’ Theater Review: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Go Solo Together

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Nick Payne and Simon Stephens do their respective one-act monologues no favors by putting them together on a double bill. Even the starry solo turns of Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge can’t relieve the monotony of seeing Stephens’ “Sea Wall” and Payne’s “A Life” back to back with an intermission. The revival of these two plays opened Thursday at the Public Theater.

Very distant are the days when playwrights, like Edward Albee, routinely paired one-act plays, like “The American Dream” and “The Zoo Story.” Nowadays, theater companies are content to stage a 70- or even 60-minute play and call it a night at the theater.

(The Metropolitan Opera is one of the few theater companies in New York City where short works are consistently staged together.  The Met just concluded its joint run of Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” running three hours. Earlier this season, the company presented Puccini’s triptych “Il Trittico,” which clocked in at slightly over three and a half hours)

Those evenings at the opera, as well as Albee’s oft-paired combo, offer something sadly lacking with the Stephens/Payne coupling: variety.

Also Read: ‘Mies Julie’ Theater Review: August Strindberg Tragedy Reimagined in South Africa

Since “Sea Wall” had its debut in 2008 and “A Life” (formerly burdened with the title “The Art of Dying”) followed six years later, Stephens can be said to have gotten there first to write a monologue about death in which the man’s grief is so overwhelming that he can’t cogently tell us the story of what happened.

Yes, in his monologue, Alex (Sturridge) always returns to the death that has wounded him, but he mixes it up with what, at first hearing, seem to be unrelated topics. He tells us how best to photograph people and that Jane Austen didn’t write detective fiction, as if anyone were asking. He recalls going scuba diving and encountering a great underwater sea wall.

In an amazing feat of literalism, Sturridge climbs a ladder to teeter precariously on an upstage wall (set design by Laura Jellinek). There’s also talk of pi, or the Archimedes’ constant. In his plays, Stephens is big on math references, which never fail to impress theater critics who majored in the liberal arts.

Also Read: ‘The Dance of Death’ Theater Review: August Strindberg’s Toxic Marriage Revisited

The math references, as well as other digressions, have to do with God. They are the kind of ramblings you heard from that annoying college freshman in your dorm who recently returned from a Lars von Trier film festival.

Alex’s non sequiturs are meant to show his discombobulated state of mind, but soon devolve into a playwright’s tic. “Sea Wall” is not helped by Sturridge’s jerky performance. Every fifth or sixth word is punched, as if English is Alex’s second language, and Sturridge never stops attacking the air around him, as if shadow-boxing with his right hand. He appears most excited when correctly pronouncing a French location — the play is replete with such place names since the death in question takes place in the south of France.

Carrie Cracknell directs “Sea Wall” with a minimum of fuss. She makes up for that minimalism by pulling out every directorial cliché to stage “A Life.”

A stagehand enters the dimly lit stage only to miraculously morph into Jake Gyllenhaal! Cracknell and designer Peter Kaczorowski immediately place him under a spotlight for the duration of the play. He’s the movie star, all right, but designer Kaye Voyce attempts to remedy his good looks by putting Gyllenhaal in baggy pants and a lumpy green cardigan sweater that almost but not quite covers his plaid flannel shirt. Directors used to do this kind of deglamorization with Julia Roberts in her post-“Pretty Woman” film career, as if to prove she could really act.

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A far greater problem than the costume is that spotlight. This effect might work for anyone sitting in the first four rows, but it’s a trial for everybody else in the very narrow, long space that is the Newman Theater at the Public.

And the lighting only gets worse. About halfway through “A Life,” Gyllenhaal leaves the stage to walk through the audience, illuminated by his iPhone. You will pay no more attention to what he’s saying during this excursion than you do when Bryan Cranston holds court in the audience in Broadway’s “Network.”

Payne is better at the non sequiturs than Stephens. Then again, the design here is more obvious: Gyllenhaal’s character keeps going back and forth between the death of his father and the birth of his daughter. It’s an effectively sentimental play, and Payne isn’t above throwing in John Lennon’s “Imagine” to give the heartstrings a good workout. It’s also a deeply naive play. Only a playwright under the age of 40 would tell us that we plan for birth but we don’t plan for death.

Not that I’ve kept count over the years, but I don’t recall ever seeing a play in which “ER” is mentioned. Until now. Stephens and Payne’s respective characters each mention the TV show that not only made George Clooney a star but had so much to say about these playwrights’ favorite subjects: life and death.

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Sebastian Stan Replacing Chris Evans In Netflix Film ‘The Devil All The Time’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Sebastian Stan will replace Chris Evans in The Devil All The Time, the Antonio Campos-directed drama. Evans has dropped out over a problem with scheduling. Who better to step in than Stan, as he and Evans have played running buddies Bucky Ba…

Deadline Studio at Sundance 2019 – Day 3 – Jeff Goldblum, Judith Light, Jake Gyllenhaal, Storm Reid & More

Read on: Deadline.

Deadline’s studio at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival kicked off Day 3 at Hotel Park City by hosting fest-goers including Jeff Goldblum of The Mountain, Judith Light of Before You Know It, Jake Gyllenhaal of Velvet Buzzsaw, Storm Reid of Relive and many…

Sundance Party Report: Zac Efron, Awkwafina, Jason Momoa and More on the Scene (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Big stars – and lots of those not-so-famous actors hoping to ride the Sundance Film Festival train to that same spot in the Hollywood firmament – descended on Park City for Sundance 2019 as the fest’s first weekend unfolded from Janua…

Jake Gyllenhaal Bisexual in ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’: Film Embraces ‘Fluid Sexuality,’ Says Director Dan Gilroy

Read on: Variety.

Monday night’s Los Angeles premiere of Netflix’s “Velvet Buzzsaw” at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre must have seemed like deja vu to the film’s cast, since they had just attended the Sundance premiere in Park City just the night before. “I am so f&…

Jake Gyllenhaal reunites with his Nightcrawler director for toothless horror satire Velvet Buzzsaw

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Watch a random few minutes from any of his movies and it becomes obvious that Dan Gilroy loves the cinema of the 1970s. It’s an obsession baked into the rhythm and downbeat trajectory of his work. Increasingly, though, one has to wonder: Have all of hi…

‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal Plays a Haunted Critic in Campy Art-World Horror Show

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sophisticated even as it mocks the pretentiousness and inflated self-importance of those who profit from creative endeavors, Dan Gilroy’s “Velvet Buzzsaw,” which premiered Sunday at Sundance Film on its way to Netflix, is a deliciously vicious satire unafraid to use campy gore to assert its commentary on commodified art.

An animated title sequence crafted to resemble moving oil paintings, perhaps a nod to what’s to come later, gives way to our first encounter with Morf Vandewalt (a fabulously wild Jake Gyllenhaal), a decisively flamboyant art critic whose opinions are weighted in gold. God-like power has been attributed to his reviews: his raves can increase the value of pieces, and he can ravage entire careers when vitriolic.

Simultaneously loathed and revered, Morf has the ear both of prominent art dealer Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo) and Gretchen (Toni Collette), an LA art curator with intentions to dabble in the market herself. Yet, the self-serving, presumably bisexual, expert only trusts Josephina (Zawe Ashton, “Nocturnal Animals”), who’s currently a receptionist at Rhodora’s firm but clearly holds higher aspirations.

Watch Video: Jake Gyllenhaal Plays a Snobby Art Critic in Horror Satire ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ First Trailer

Gilroy’s aptness for piercingly witty dialogue and morbid humor lace every one of the exchanges among these rabid purveyors and tastemakers. Morally repulsive characters also occupied his directorial debut “Nigthcrawler”; what’s changed here is the incorporation of a supernatural element not fond of these greedy antics. Reunited in service of the writer-director’s vision, Gyllenhaal and Russo reinvent themselves. This time out, his character is capable of remorse while hers stays affixed to her interests, even as appalling phenomena threaten her.

Not long into the film, uproar pierces Morf’s privileged bubble when Josephina discovers numerous pieces by an unknown artist named Vetril Dease, who died mysteriously in her apartment building. With Morf’s help, Rhodora and Josephina (now business partners) amplify the reputation of the unknown master whose paintings depict unsettling scenes of violence. Demand is high, and the entire art world apparatus is ready to make a killing.

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But the more that’s unearthed regarding Dease’s past and inspirations, the higher the risk for anyone involved in his art’s commercialization of being punished by an otherworldly entity. Inventively, Gilroy utilizes exaggerated horror tropes to take to task our cynical thoughts about artistic creation. His sharp “Velvet Buzzsaw” is an exquisitely diabolical exposé on the merciless materialistic ambitions that run rampant in cultural fields.

Bearing Gilroy’s signature, the film can also be described as an amalgamation of Ruben ?-stlund’s “The Square,” the “Final Destination” series, and the Hungarian animated feature, “Ruben Brandt, Collector,” about a psychotherapist tormented by several paintings that come to life before his eyes in terrifying ways. Gyllenhaal’s Morf shares Ruben Brandt’s symptoms, since he also sees Dease’s tortured subjects menacingly jump from the canvas.

“Critiquing is limiting and emotionally draining,” says Morf, hoping that Dease will allow him to surpass the barriers of his own perception when analyzing subjective material. Though Morf’s yearning may not be fulfilled, the highly quotable lines he unleashes make of the movie a prime candidate for a cult following.

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In juicy supporting roles, the rest of the cast gets to rejoice in extravagant personas that nourish the over-the-top brilliance of Gilroy’s screenplay. Toni Collette exudes Edna Mode vibes and gets the biggest laughs in outrageously dark fashion. Meanwhile, Billy Magnussen as Bryson, a handyman at Rhodora’s company, cleverly upends typecasting and pigeonholing. Then there is John Malkovich as a depressed veteran artist seeking redemption, and Daveed Diggs as an emerging voice not willing to sell out. Lastly, Natalia Dyer as young employee Coco, who works for literally everyone else in the film at one point or another, is a scene-stealer that connects with audiences in the way Lil Rel Howery did in “Get Out.”

“Velvet Buzzsaw” is as lavishly produced as one would expect a film set in this ravishingly expensive underworld to be. Production designer Jim Bissell (“Surburbicon”) deserves special recognition for the fantastic recreation of spaces, the paintings at the center of the ghost-story plot, and other contraptions like the Sphere, a metal ball with multiple holes for the user to insert his arm and experience a variety of sensations — sometimes painful ones. Bissell presented cinematographer Robert Elswit (another “Nightcrawler” alum) with a colorful domain to capture, and their partnership results in a sublimely shot pastiche of which Morf himself would approve.

Negative reviews eventually haunt Morf into self-destruction, and whether or not this is a cautionary tale for critics, reviewing a film about the act of observing, interpreting, and grading almost feels like winking back at Gilroy for pushing us to do so in the first place.



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Sundance Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’

Read on: Variety.

Commerce and greed are killing the art industry, literally, in “Velvet Buzzsaw,” a tarted-up throwback to a certain kind of trashy ’70s horror movie — à la “Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?” or “Theater of Blood,” in which cooks and critics go…

Variety Studio at Toronto Set for Star-Studded Interviews; Daily Coverage Includes News, Reviews and Events

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Variety returns to the Sundance Film Festival with its annual interview studio in partnership with AT&T at the DirecTV lounge. Running from Friday, Jan. 25 through Monday, Jan. 28, guests of the studio include Jake Gyllenhaal, Lupita N’yongo,…

Funny or Die Mashes Up ‘Ghostbusters’ With Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

One of the most bizarre looking new movies of 2019 is “Velvet Buzzsaw,” a horror satire starring Jake Gyllenhaal about an art critic who discovers the paintings of a newly discovered artist are haunted and capable of murder.

Funnily enough, the concept has something in common with another satirical classic, “Ghostbusters.” Ivan Reitman’s movie is also about a haunted painting, that ugly looking Vigo the Carpathian that comes to life and tries to take over the world. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria! That sort of stuff.

Well getting in the “Ghostbusters” spirit after news dropped yesterday that Ivan’s son Jason Reitman is making a secret “Ghostbusters” film, Funny or Die has mashed up the latest Netflix sensation with the Bill Murray classic for a pretty convincing fake trailer.

Also Read: Jake Gyllenhaal Plays a Snobby Art Critic in Horror Satire ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ First Trailer (Video)

Suddenly Gyllenhaal’s line in the film, “something goddamn strange is going on” sounds a bit more ridiculous when the “Who you gonna call” theme is playing over the top of it.

“Velvet Buzzsaw” is written and directed by Dan Gilroy and also stars Rene Russo, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen and Natalia Dyer. It lands on Netflix Feb. 1.

Watch the fake mashup movie trailer from Funny or Die (via Entertainment Weekly) above.

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What You Need to Know About Mysterio and the Elementals in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

So we got our very first look at “Spider-Man: Far From Home” — notable for a lot of reasons, the biggest probably being that it will be the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that takes place after “Avengers: Endgame.”

Now, the trailer provides no clues about how that fourth “Avengers” movie is going to play out — unless you didn’t know that this movie existed, in which case you will be surprised to discover that Spider-Man is alive again. But while this first tease for “Far From Home” doesn’t do much looking back, it does appear to give us some clues about where the MCU is going once the battle with Thanos finally concludes in a couple months.

The trailer is pretty light on plot details in general, but it does introduce what we assume are most of the major players. Including five new villains: Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a quartet of monsters known in Marvel Comics lore as the Elementals.

Also Read: Here’s the Spectacular First Trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (Video)

Let’s start by talking about Mysterio for a minute.

Several characters have operated as Mysterio, but the most famous one is Quentin Beck, Gyllenhaal’s character in “Far From Home.” Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back 1964, Beck was a special effects technician and stunt man who dreamed of becoming a movie star in his own right. When that didn’t pan out, he realized his skillset could also be useful in a life of crime, so he created his trademark fishbowl-and-cape outfit and began pulling off robberies using tricks he used to deploy in Hollywood: literal (purple-green) smoke and mirrors, poison gasses, flashy tricks of light, that sort of thing.

In his first battle with Spider-Man, he tried to frame the webslinger for robbing a museum, but was exposed and went to prison holding a serious grudge. Mysterio returned as a charter member of the supervillain team Sinister Six, and over the years attempted several revenge schemes against Spidey. He later also became an enemy of Daredevil (and was even involved in the chain of events that led to Karen Page’s death) until — and this is where it gets weird — he makes a deal with a demon, commits suicide and goes to hell, is sent back to earth from Hell, gets involved with a bunch of other crazy schemes, pretends to reform, and well, you get the idea.

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Fun fact: Though he didn’t appear as Mysterio until 1964, it was later stated that a group of aliens Spider-Man fought in “Amazing Spider-Man” #2 were actually criminals in disguise, one of whom was Beck. Which technically makes him the third Spider-Man supervillain after the Vulture and Tinkerer, who also debuted in “Amazing Spider-Man” #2. Given that Vulture and the Tinkerer both appeared in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” it looks like the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spider-Man is getting his original rogues gallery somewhat in the order he got them.

The main thing to know about Mysterio, though, is that he’s not some magical or cosmic being. He’s just a bitter guy nursing a serious inferiority complex, who never quite lives up to his ambitions in either legitimate or criminal enterprises, using tricks to seem more special than he really is. We’ll circle back to that in a moment.

The Elementals are more in line with the madness of the recent MCU. Their powers are real, and they’re insane. As you probably noticed in the “Far From Home” trailer.

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Created by Tony Isabella and Val Mayerik in 1974, the group first appeared in Marvel’s anthology horror series “Supernatural Thrillers.” In the comics, they’re thousands-of-years-old evildoers from another dimension who became immortal after mastering the power of natural forces (hence their name). Their leader, Hellfire, controls fire, Magnum controls rocks and minerals, Hydron controls water, and Zephyr controls air. Once upon a time, the four of them ruled a kingdom on our Earth, but were deposed when they tried to conquer ancient-ancient-ancient Egypt, and were banished from this dimension.

Also Read: Watch the Third ‘Captain Marvel’ Trailer Here (Video)

They managed to make it back to our realm in the modern era, where they had a few criminal adventures and tangled a few times with the original Ms. Marvel — that’s Carol Danvers by the way, AKA Captain Marvel, who is getting her own movie five months before “Far From Home.”

Marvel hasn’t made much use of them since 1979 — their most recent appearance saw Zephyr team up with Thor for a completely bananas cosmic adventure that I won’t bother trying to describe here.

Given that Mysterio — who everyone knows is basically a con man using misdirection and special effects to commit crimes — is a big part of “Far From Home,” there’s two major possibilities for what the role of the Elementals is here. In both of these concepts, Mysterio is using them to try to pretend to be a hero.

The first idea is that the Elementals are themselves fake. Just more insane tricks by Mysterio, a switcheroo similar to what “Iron Man 3” did with the Mandarin. This plot would make “Spider-Man: Far From Home” a sort of fun little side adventure to contrast with whatever super dramatic stuff is going to go down in “Avengers: Endgame,” akin to how Marvel used the “Ant-Man” movies after the last two “Avengers” flicks.

Also Read: 9 Things We Learned From That Dope First ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer

The second, and we would say more likely, possibility is that the Elementals represent an introduction to what’s in store in the next phase of the MCU. This whole thing has escalated dramatically from the fairly grounded first phase to operating on the cosmic scale of “Infinity War,” and the natural next step would be to explore extradimensional stuff. We’ve already been getting teases over the last couple years, with Dormammu in “Doctor Strange” and the Quantum Realm in “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

It would make sense for the next phase to go in that direction, because just doing more space stuff in a post-Thanos MCU could easily feel like a retread. They’ve spent a lot of years getting us used to some pretty wacky things in the MCU, and so now would be the right time to go really deep into weirdest parts of the Marvel Comics universe.

But, hey, until we know how “Avengers: Endgame” plays out, it’s hard to make a firm guess about what “Spider-Man: Far From Home” has in store for us. But whatever it ends up being, it certainly doesn’t look like it will be boring.

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‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Trailer: NYC’s Hometown Hero Takes On Europe

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In the just-released trailer for the Sony/Columbia Pictures summer release Spider-Man: Far From Home, the superhero mostly closely associated with New York City finds himself a long way from the friendly neighborhoods of his native Queens. As Peter Par…

Here’s the Spectacular First Trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

We’re still six months out from “Avengers 4,” but we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing Peter Parker will somehow rebound after being finger-snapped out of existence in “Avengers: Infinity War.” That’s because he’ll be back in “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the first trailer for which was finally unveiled today. Watch it above right now. Right now!

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” sees Peter Parker and his high school friends taking a trip to Europe during their summer vacation, where Peter finds himself up against a new supervillain: Mysterio. It marks the first-ever live-action appearance of one of Spider-Man’s earliest enemies, created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The trailer plays pretty similarly to how “Homecoming” did, giving off a teen comedy sort of vibe. But the fun comes to a halt midway through the teaser when Nick Fury appears suddenly to shoot Peter’s best friend Ned with a sleep dart — so he can recruit the young Spider-Man for some kind of mission while he’s in Europe.

From there we get a few brief glimpses of some new villains, the Elementals — like that water monster that fully flummoxes Spidey — and the mysterious Mysterio appearing out of nowhere to…save the day?

The trailer is light on plot, so for now it’s tough to know what to make of all that. And if you were hoping for some kind of clue about “Avengers: Endgame,” well, sorry. There’s no mention here of that whole thing.

The Elementals are a quartet of ancient beings who have complete mastery of the four elements — earth, wind, fire and water — and we see all four in play in the form of that rock monster, the fire dude, that previously mentioned giant water person, and the violent lightning storm that Spider-Man glides through.

Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker — Holland actually debuted the trailer via Instagram Live — with Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. The film also sees the return of Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, joined this time out by Cobie Smulders as ex-S.H.E.I.L.D. agent Maria Hill, and Samuel L. Jackson as former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury.

Also Read: New ‘Captain Marvel’ Trailer Filled With Wild Space Action (Video)

Meanwhile, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” comes out July 5, two months after whatever the fourth “Avengers” movie ends up being called. Which means you’ve probably got as many questions as we do, especially since we also have “Captain Marvel” hitting theaters first.

Click here to see how we think “Captain Marvel” might connect to the end of “Infinity War. Go here for what we think Doctor Strange saw in the one version of the future in which the Avengers defeat Thanos. Meanwhile, we wonder if this is who Annette Bening is playing in “Captain Marvel.” And if you need it, here’s  what happened in the comic book version of the “Infinity War” story.

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‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ Trailer: Art Comes To (Take) Life In Netflix’s Jake Gyllenhaal Thriller From ‘Nightcrawler’ Helmer

Read on: Deadline.

“Something truly goddamn strange in going on” in Netflix’s first trailer for Velvet Buzzsaw, the art horror film which reteams its stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo with Nightcrawler writer-director Dan Gilroy. Its features an all-…