Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nightcrawler Movie Review

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Nightcrawler

If It Bleeds, It Leads

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) boasts, 'I like to say, if you're seeing me... you're having the worst day of your life.' Au contraire mon frere. Perhaps as a character in Dan Gilroy's brilliant thriller Nightcrawler; but to audiences lucky enough to see him from a safe distance on screen... it could be your best day ever. The BAFTA award winner (Brokeback Mountain) is sen-sa-tion-al as 2014's most intense movie character... part Travis Bickle, part Ron Galella, all Gyllenhaal. Lou is charming, creepy, daring and direct - with a pair of wild eyes that scream, "watch me!" Needless to say, the same can be said for the film as a whole, easily one of the year's finest.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of night-crawling - where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou thrives. In the breakneck, ceaseless search for footage, he becomes the star of his own story.

What’s Best: In any other year, Gyllenhaal would be a shoo-in for Best Actor; but 2014 is chock-full of great performances. That said, he edges out Bill Murray and Brad Pitt for top honors so far. His "romancing" of Nina at a Mexican restaurant is nothing short of AWESOME; as is his genuine excitement to receive a visit at his apartment by two police detectives. In between, Jake dazzles with a lovable creepiness that's bound to resonate with you for days, perhaps weeks to come.

Meanwhile, Russo belies her age (60) playfully jousting back-and-forth with the much-younger Gyllenhaal for the entire movie. It's not only convincing, but by the end of it all, you'd swear Nina & Lou were cut from the same (perplexing) cloth.

Finally, hats off to Gilroy who makes one of the best directorial debuts in recent memory. He not only directs, but writes as well... and delivers a Drive-like feel along the way. Nightcrawler has moments of humor, surpassed only by a teetering eeriness throughout, that culminates in a dramatic and tension-filled conclusion. This guy could be a genius: I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

What’s Not: I suppose you have to be a little bit "twisted" to appreciate all the nuances in Nightcrawler (guilty as charged.) A perfect example is the play-by-play by KWLA anchors Ben Waterman (Rick Chambers) and Lisa Mays (Holly Hannula) as they narrate Lou's crime scene footage live, on-air. There's blood everywhere... dead bodies, etc., yet the former still finds time to comment, 'This is a beautiful home.' Warped, but hilarious.

Best Line: Bless her heart, Nina knows a good thing when she sees one. Her defense of Lou at the end of the movie is priceless, 'I think Lou is inspiring all of us to reach a little higher.' It's hard to argue, especially after hearing Lou toss sweet-nothings at his employer/potential lover over chips & guacamole, 'I like the dark makeup around your eyes. I like the way you smell.' Still, all that pales in comparison to Nina's, 'Our news is a screaming woman, running down the street with her throat cut.' Not exactly "All the News That's Fit to Print," is it?

Overall: You could argue that Nightcrawler is partly a rags-to-riches story (so far as Lou's "career" is concerned.) Take morality (and eventually legality) out of the equation, and part of you has to admire Lou's drive and raw tenacity. He admits, 'I don't have much of an education; but you can find most anything, if you look hard enough.' Lou's a fast learner, and it plays well within Gilroy's fast-paced story. If I were a betting man, I'd bet EVERYTHING on Lou. In Lou we trust? Maybe not literally, but his character is absolutely fascinating to watch for the movie's 117-minute runtime. Odds are, you're gonna love it too.