Tag Archives: Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Kindergarten Teacher (2018) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lisa Spinelli
Parker Sevak as Jimmy Roy
Michael Chernus as Grant Spinelli
Gael García Bernal as Simon
Anna Baryshnikov as Meghan
Ajay Naidu as Nikhil Roy
Rosa Salazar as Becca
Director: Sara Colangelo

A teacher (Maggie Gyllenhaal) sees such great promise in her 5-year-old student (Parker Sevak) that she goes to unreasonable lengths to protect his talent.

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I heard some good things about The Kindergarten Teacher a while ago. I pretty much only watched this because I heard that Maggie Gyllenhaal gave a really great performance in it, I didn’t know anything else about the movie aside from the premise and that it would be distributed by Netflix. The Kindergarten Teacher overall is a solid movie, with a fantastic lead performance by Gyllenhaal, even if it’s not the easiest movie to watch.

The Kindergarten Teacher is a pretty straightforward character study and it doesn’t try to be anything more than that. It’s only 90 minutes and they don’t overcomplicate things, and they keep the plot moving at a reasonably good pace, even if this movie is very at its core an intimate drama. It is probably worth noting that this movie is a bit of an uncomfortable watch, despite the plot not sounding like it would be. It’s not extremely disturbing and there’s nothing really too graphic or anything like that of the sort, though it is unnerving during portions of the movie. It’s uncomfortable in the sense that over the course of the movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character gradually oversteps her boundaries when it comes to the child, and you just want her to stop what she’s doing. Now thankfully they don’t go for the worst case scenario like many of us would think it would (it honestly would feel kind of cheap if they did) but its nonetheless not easy to watch. With that said, while you might have those feelings, it’s still rather riveting and you want to see what will happen at the end of the movie.

The main reason to watch The Kindergarten Teacher is for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s incredible performance as the titular Kindergarten Teacher. While I admit I haven’t seen a ton of her performances, this probably ranks among her best and is definitely the best I’ve seen from her so far. I like that despite how it’s clear that what she is doing is morally wrong, it does take a sympathetic angle on her that shows how some of it is well intentioned and you can see why she would have this obsession that would make her do the things she wants to do. At the same time though, the movie is fully aware that what she’s doing isn’t good. It’s a complex and layered performance that was delivered excellently by Gyllenhaal. The supporting cast is pretty good as well, with Michael Chernus, Gael Garcia Bernal and others serving their parts as well. The actor who plays the main child who Gyllenhaal’s character is particularly focussed on, Jimmy Sevak, was also quite good in his role, quite convincing and effective as a potential protégé who’s still quite innocent in this stage of his life.

The direction by Sara Colangelo (who also wrote the movie) is pretty good. The overall direction is all done at an adequate level to serve this story, it’s nothing flashy or miraculous, but it worked quite well.

The Kindergarten Teacher is not necessarily an easy watch, even though it was all around a solid movie with regards to the acting, writing and direction. However I’d still say that it might be worth watching for Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is really great here and deserving of way more praise than she’s been getting for her performance.

The Dark Knight (2008)

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The Dark Knight

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne
Heath Ledger as The Joker
Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel
Gary Oldman as Gordon
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Director: Christopher Nolan

Set within a year after the events of Batman Begins, Batman (Christian Bale), Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and new district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) successfully begin to round up the criminals that plague Gotham City until a mysterious and sadistic criminal mastermind known only as the Joker (Heath Ledger) appears in Gotham, creating a new wave of chaos. Batman’s struggle against the Joker forces him to confront everything he believes, improve his technology to stop him and forces Batman closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

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The Dark Knight is one of the best sequels to an already great movie. This is up with The Godfather Part 2, Aliens, Terminator 2 and The Empire Strikes back for a sequel being as good if not better as the original. The film is much darker than Batman Begins, mostly because of The Joker but also because Batman is tested much harder by his new adversity. The dialogue between characters is very interesting and captivating, an example of this is one scene that is between Batman and The Joker. Most of the best things about this movie can only be seen, it can’t be explained. The first scene in The Dark Knight is one of the most surprising openings to a movie because of the soundtrack and the setup which I won’t spoil for those few people who haven’t seen this film yet. Once experiencing that first scene the first time I watched it, I knew that I was in for something special.

The Dark Knight

As in Batman Begins, Christian Bale is great as Batman. He again manages to portray both Bruce Wayne’s side and Batman’s side. I honestly don’t need to say much about Heath Ledger’s surprising performance as The Joker as it’s been talked about so often. But no one expected him to act like this. People already knew he was a good actor but the fact that he was going to be The Joker was looking to be one of the worst miscasts for an actor for a role. However he impressed everyone by going beyond the comic book. People compare his performance to Jack Nicholson’s in Batman (1989). For me Jack Nicholson’s performance was the first supervillian that translated from the comic book to the big screen. Heath Ledger is the perfect portrayal of a sociopath who happens to be The Joker. For me, both performances were perfect but I slightly like Ledger’s performance slightly more, only because his character seems more realistic as an absolute psychopath than Nicholson’s. As usual, the cast from the previous movie, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman returns. The only character who has had a new actor was Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel who was also really good here. Aaron Eckhart was perfect as Harvey Dent. I can’t really give examples of his best moments in the film as it may spoil things for the few people who haven’t seen this movie yet. I will say that Dent goes through some changes as a character.

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Like the first film, Hans Zimmer composed the score to The Dark Knight and as usual does a good job. The action was filmed well, like in the first film; every action scene is made to seem plausible as possible. There are some scenes like the truck flip scene that weren’t CGI, Christopher Nolan actually managed to make that happen.

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If you replaced the character of Batman with someone else, it is still a really good crime drama. That’s the best way that I can describe The Dark Knight: a great crime drama with Batman in it. One of the best comic book movies of all time manages to be a great movie on its own, not just as an action movie. The excellent acting by everyone, the immersion of the world and the interesting story makes it an essential movie for everyone to watch.