Notes from the back row 

A Gyllenhaal sibling cinematic showdown

Okay. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but it’s been a hell of a week. Between working my ass off to make sure our "guests" don’t leave town with a bad taste in their mouth, partying with 2 million of my closest friends and losing the filmmaker showdown to a nifty little slideshow, I haven’t really found the time to get out to the good old Village 8 and check out any of Hollywood’s finest this week.

So instead we’re gonna go with a closer look at two of the best performers in contemporary film and check out a bit of sibling rivalry at the same time. Basically, the question is: Who’s cooler, Maggie or Jake Gyllenhaal?

If you don’t know who those two are it’s time to start paying a bit more attention once the movie’s over, but here’s a brief rundown just in case.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a performer’s performer, Born in 1977, she’s 5’9" and has starred or co-starred in 22 different films, some of them, like George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, are really awesome. Others, like Mona Lisa Smile, are considerably less desirable. Maggie is an indie darling who co-hosted the Sundance Festival in 2003. She’s gorgeous in a non-classic way, makes 3-5 films a year and seems to know how to pick a good script. Rent Criminal with John C. Reilly, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation , or the video with the cool box cover, Happy Endings if you don’t believe me.

In fact, in Happy Endings she plays perhaps the coldest and most calculating (but sexily likeable) gold-digging woman of all time.

My favorite Maggie Gyllenhaal role is the spanking-fetish, S&M masterpiece Secretary, in which she co-stars with James Spader. Gyllenhaal plays a girl who’s fresh out of the loony bin and has a thing for self-mutilation. Spader is an emotionally closed-off lawyer who enjoys "correcting" his secretary’s typos a little too much. Together the two weave an amazing tale of love, pleasure and pain that ends up making a far, far more interesting love story than your typical Tinsel-town, Tom Hanks shit. It’s a fine film and it’s the DVD of the week and in this little sibling-rivalry contest it gives Maggie, who holds a degree in English from Columbia University, a distinct advantage.

But hold on, little brother Jake isn’t all that shabby either. Born three years later, he’s been in 17 films, beginning with City Slickers, which started him off at the tender age of 11. With rugged good looks and an easily visible sensitive side, Jake is a dream come true for young, artsy women everywhere.

Gay dudes probably love him too after his role in the smash gay cowboy hit Brokeback Mountain , which earned him an Academy Award nomination, something Maggie has yet to achieve. As well, Jake helped keep last year’s snoozer Jarhead from being a complete waste of time and the one-time lifeguard was also voted into People Magazine’s 50 hottest bachelors (if you read that kind of stuff I guess that’s a big deal).

Really though, Jake Gyllenhall is best known for starring and stealing the show in Donnie Darko , one of the coolest and most watched films of the past 10 years. If you still haven’t seen this one, time to step back about four years and check it out. In fact check out any of the Gyllenhaal’s flicks and you generally won’t be let down. (Maggie was also in Donnie Darko where she plays, wait for it, Jake’s sister.)

So who’s cooler, who’s hotter, and if you were to be stuck in an elevator with one of them which would it be? Tough call, but I’m saying Maggie all the way.

AT VILLAGE 8 April 21-27: The Sentinel; The Rocket; American Dreamz; Scary Movie 4; Ice Age 2; The Wild; Thank You for Smoking; Benchwarmers; Lucky Number Slevin.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Closed until April 22. Info line 604-932-2422.


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