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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Guilty’ on Netflix, in Which Jake Gyllenhaal is a One-Man Actorly Wrecking Crew

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Netflix movie The Guilty is Jake Gyllenhaal, all the time, every moment, up close and personal. This (mostly) one-man show is the American version of Gustav Moller’s Danish film Den skyldige, about a 911 operator dealing with a harrowing kidnapping situation via phone, while also staving off his own personal demons. Interesting trivia: Gyllenhaal, who also has producer credit, pitched director Antoine Fuqua by saying they’d shoot the film as a minimalist work, under tight COVID protocols, in five days; it actually took 11, which is still ridiculously quick for a feature. The result is as harrowingly intense as you’d expect for a drama that’s almost wholly close-up shots of Jake Gyllenhaal sweating buckets.

THE GUILTY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: Wildfires are eating up large swaths of California right outside of Los Angeles. Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) coughs, hits his inhaler, exits the restroom and seats himself at a desk. He’s an LAPD officer, demoted, now manning a phone bank. As he answers 911 calls, we begin to wonder if there are any real, serious emergencies in the L.A. area — outside the fires, of course. Joe’s getting a lot of doozies tonight, and struggles to show much sympathy. “I understand, but it’s your own fault, isn’t it?” he asks one caller, and it’s not what the caller wants to hear, whether he’s a fool Joe suffers or just someone who’s truly hurt and needs help.

Then a call comes in on Joe’s personal cell phone. A newspaper reporter. They want an interview about his case — a case that goes to court the very next day. He yells at the reporter, hangs up. His phone’s home screen is a photo of his young daughter. He calls his ex, leaves a voicemail; he knows he’s not supposed to be doing this, but he just wants to say goodnight to the kid. He’s chastised for making a personal call on the job. He calls the LAPD dispatch, and gets his former sergeant (Ethan Hawke’s voice), who assures Joe that after tomorrow, he’ll be out of that call center and back to being a regular cop. Wishful thinking? Who knows, but Joe keeps hitting his inhaler, and snapping at his coworkers in the call center, and never saying please or thank you for anything, and now he’s just dropped some Alka Seltzer.

And then, the call. A woman named Emily (Riley Keough’s voice) is pretending to talk to her daughter, but she’s talking to Joe the 911 operator. She’s distraught. Soon enough, Joe deduces that she’s been abducted, and is in a white van on the highway. Then she hangs up. He barks orders at the California Highway Patrol dispatcher (Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s voice) and the CHP officers to find the van. He calls Emily’s daughter, who’s six, and home alone with her baby brother. He calls his former partner to go check things out. He gets a call from his ex but can’t answer it right now. Have they found the van? Is it the right one? Are there any cops out there not dealing with wildfire-related emergencies? What’s Joe’s damage, anyway? He sweats. His face is red. He promised the little girl that her mother would come home, but that’s going to be a mighty task, especially when you’re stuck behind a desk with only a telephone and a tenuous grip on your own sanity.

The Guilty
Photo: GLEN WILSON/NETFLIX © 2021

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: In Steven Knight’s Locke, Tom Hardy manages all kinds of personal and professional problems on the phone from behind the wheel of his car, pretty much in real time.

Performance Worth Watching: The film is 100 percent Gyllenhaal, so if you’re not watching him, you’ve dozed off — although Gyllenhaal gives the type of performance that does not at all encourage dozing off, so you’re absolutely watching him.

Memorable Dialogue: “Call an Uber and don’t bike drunk, asshole!” — Joe has no pity whatsoever for a poor 911 caller

Sex and Skin: None.

Our Take: If you’re going to watch a contrived high-drama acting exercise, you might as well watch Gyllenhaal do it: in close-up, eyes bulging, beads of sweat forming, forehead vein throbbing Beethoven’s 5th. He’s utterly convincing as a man who — no spoilers — probably did something pretty bad, and now is forced to solve a serious problem remotely when he used to be hands-on, on the frontline. Frustration boils, guilt emerges, self-loathing quietly bubbles up. But he’s heartbroken, regretful, truly concerned about this woman Emily’s well-being. Does Joe deserve our sympathy? I think so, if only to cling to idealist beliefs that good people sometimes do bad things, or that bad people deserve redemption. More realistically, I don’t see Joe as a good or bad person, but merely painfully human.

So beneath Gyllenhaal’s fraught, anxiety-ridden performance, there’s a character in the midst of a moral struggle: he’s done something wrong, now it’s time to do something right. There is nuance in Gyllenhaal’s characterization, although that doesn’t necessarily extend to the rest of the screenplay, which tries to encompass topical anxieties involving civilian-police interactions and environmental destruction — personal, social and global apocalypses all occur simultaneously. Gyllenhaal and Fuqua wind the tension tight, compelling us to get caught up in the drama, even when things get bleak or predictable, or bleakly predictable. It’s a bit too much, and a bit too much on the nose, but the film’s vigor is undeniable.

Our Call: STREAM IT. The Guilty is a heavy, stressful watch, and if it isn’t too far-fetched, it’s at least a little bit fetched. Yet you can do far, far worse than watch Gyllenhaal work like this for 90 minutes.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

Stream The Guilty on Netflix

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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