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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nightcrawler - A Film Review

I saw Nightcrawler recently. It was very good, but unsettling and creepy to watch. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, and is about a drifter named Lou who videotapes crime scenes and car accidents, tracking them through a police scanner, and sells the footage to a local TV network. He is a sociopath who is a confident talker, is a thief, and doesn't have any remorse or guilt from profiting off of filming gruesome accident scenes for sleazy news stories.

Gyllenhaal gave another brilliant performance, playing a sleazy, amoral fast talker, his gaunt face making his eyes look more open and menacing. I've underestimated Gyllenhaal's versatility a lot, because of his cute puppy-dog looks and Hollywood-raised background, but I am continually impressed by his versatility in films like Zodiac, Source Code, Prisoners, Brokeback Mountain, End of Watch, and earlier movies like October Sky, Donnie Darko, and Moonlight Mile

I looked up the director Dan Gilroy, and am pleased to see that he did the story adaptation for Real Steel, a movie that seemed silly on paper (boxing robots) but was much better than I had expected, due to Hugh Jackman's performance and the father-son story of bonding through creating a boxing robot.

The other name actors in this movie are Rene Russo as the news director who compromises journalistic integrity for higher ratings of gruesome crime scenes, and Bill Paxton as a fellow videographer of accidents. For Paxton, I thought, "Bill Paxton has gone from chasing tornadoes to chasing crime scenes."

The film is really good, but was very uncomfortable to watch, very dark and blunt in its sleaziness and brutality. I was cringing at various moments in it for how far Lou would go to get what he wanted for "good video." I still recommend it, and feel like while Gyllenhaal is often critically acclaimed, he still seems underrated to me, perhaps thought of as a "pretty face" despite the risks he takes in his films. Perhaps he will get a major award that he missed out on when he should've been nominated for an Academy Award for Prisoners.

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