Nightcrawler (2014)

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Interesting moral questions and characters

Gyllenhaal is a love him or hate him actor for many

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Nightcrawler

Studio:  Bold Films

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  September 5, 2014 (Toronto International Film Festival)/October 31, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

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Blood…guts? It doesn’t matter to me…

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a man with no direction…but still driven.  When he learns that TV stations will pay for carnage and blood, Louis steals a bike, buys a camera and scanner, and sets out to make money.  When he hooks up with a desperate overnight producer named Nina (Rene Russo) and an assistant to help him, Louis begins trolling the Los Angeles streets for graphic footage and money.  Louis is a stringer with no morals, and anything, especially bloody, sells!

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler is a suspense-thriller.  The film was released to critical acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival with a wide release in October.  The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and many felt that the picture and Jake Gyllenhaal was snubbed in other categories.

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Zen and the Art of News Photography

I love LA movies, and Nightcrawler is one of those movies that I wanted to see just because of the atmosphere.  With comparisons to the great Drive and other films I like, I put my reservations about Jake Gyllenhaal aside and saw it…and really enjoyed it.

The movie proposes the idea of “what if you give a sociopath a camera?”  Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom feels like a combination of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) from Taxi Driver, the unbalanced Ryan Gosling of Drive, Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) from Network, and the driven Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) of Election.  The character has no personal boundaries and despite being slightly smarter than the average person, he has no social skills…which of course leads to problems since he wants to be in a social environment.  He has no connection to society and isn’t afraid to cross the boundaries that regular photographers won’t cross…leading to success in the business.

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What a romantic date with a fake cityscape!

I have to say that I work in news and that I like the moral questions raised in the film.  Granted some of the news stuff isn’t realistic, but other aspects of the story are realistic.  The station I work at has no need to resort to stringers (on occasion we have used video shot by viewers), but I can see in a city like Los Angeles how it would be necessary simply due to the time and space being covered by reporting crews.  I don’t believe that much of the footage shot by Gyllenhaal’s character would make air in a standard (much less morning) news program, but the moral issues raised by the film are legitimate and dealt with daily.  This aspect was interesting to me (ok, Russo’s character was a bit over the top…I think any producer would say screw it to Gyllenhaal’s indecent proposal).

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I LOVE TO SHOOT NEWS!!!!!

Gyllenhaal is always a tricky actor.  I think it is possible for him to do good work, but there is also something kind of irritating about him.  Here, it works again and it goes to show that choosing the right roles is a must for certain actors.  He is rather unnerving as the smiling psychotic Bloom, but due to this aspect of his character, his unnatural and stunted acting works.  Rene Russo (who is also the wife of director Gilroy) is a little much as the amoral producer and failed reporter.  Bill Paxton doesn’t really do much for me as the competitor stringer, but Riz Ahmed as Bloom’s poor belittled assistant is great and hopefully will go on to do more.

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Don’t worry…this is perfectly legal

With a movie like Nightcrawler, the setting becomes almost another character.  LA is such a visual city that the movie just lends itself to the movie.  Much like Drive (or even Taxi Driver’s New York City), the movie is gritty and dark…much like Gyllenhaal.  It is combined with some great driving scenes that are along the lines of grindhouse style films.

Nightcrawler does have room for improvement.  The tone of the movie takes a while to figure out, and it turns really dark, possibly a bit too late despite plenty of hints to the direction of the film…yet ends with an almost tongue-in-cheek approach that doesn’t fit how the movie feels for the last half-hour.  Nightcrawler is a good thriller that successfully paints a story open for debate.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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