Welcome Scribbler movie fans! Once again Old Man Feind took in some non-horror (that as it turns out is NOT an X-Men film) that has plenty of Oscar buzz. Is it that good or should you pass it by? I’ll tell you as we take a look at…
I started hearing buzz around Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in this one before the movie was even released so it had me interested. I’m not always the biggest fan of Gyllenhaal’s work but he has picked some rather interesting films to do. Prisoners with Hugh Jackman was excellent and not long ago I also caught an Indie he did, Enemy, which was rather different with Gyllenhaal playing “twins”. The ending killed that one but Gyllenhaal’s performance was outstanding and extremely believable showing similar yet different personalities of both twins. Aside from the stinker that was Prince of Persia (why you cast a white guy to play a Persian I have not one fucking clue) Gyllenhaal is generally not the weak point of any of the movies he’s in. They may not all be great or my cup o’ tea but his performances are always top notch. So when I began hearing that he had really outdone himself in Nightcrawler I was beyond intrigued without even knowing what the movie was about. I figured if it ended up being boring I could always shut it off… so did I?
There would be no shutting this one off. The synopsis is pretty simple for this one: an out of work sociopath takes on a career of chasing news leads getting as close as possible to bloody carnage to fulfill the need of our “if it bleeds it leads” news casts. Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a true sociopath with not a drop of empathy whatsoever. Some confuse sociopath with psychopath which is completely different. The vast majority of sociopaths are non-violent, their lack of empathy is actually something that makes them go further in the business world by what most would deem “cut throat” tactics. Louis has pretty much no emotions whatsoever and Gyllenhaal quite honestly portrays it perfectly. Approaching scenes that would make some flee screaming, he shows nothing more than curiosity. Just what does it look like to watch someone die? That’s what seems to drive Louis on.
We’re shown Louis' odd demeanor in the opening shot. He is stealing metal from a railyard to try making ends meet when a security guard approaches him. As soon as he realizes it’s just a security guard and not a cop he knocks the man out, steals his watch and takes the night’s haul in to get paid. After being turned down for a job, even an internship, at the recycling center Louis soon stumbles across his perfect career opportunity when the next night he happens upon a fresh car accident. Just as police and rescue squad personnel show up, so too does a camera crew. They aren’t affiliated with any particular news station, they are freelance journalists/videographers chasing carnage for the nightly news. Louis immediately inquires about a job only to be quickly turned down by veteran Joe Loder (Bill Paxton). Louis decides this is the job for him, however, quickly doing some research and buying a camera. It isn’t long before he has his first poorly shot footage to sell and first meets aging reporter Nina Romina (Rene Russo).
Rene Russo, who I honestly can’t remember the last thing I even saw her in, gives an excellent performance that seems to be getting no attention though a Best Supporting nod is more than warranted for her. She highlights our highly sexist society as an aging woman on TV, other than Barbara Walters a woman can pretty much count her career in front of the camera over once she reaches 40 or 50. Nina (Russo) is desperate to make sure she stays a viable commodity and sees the odd Louis as her ticket to do so. Especially as Louis (Gyllenhaal) pushes further and further into forbidden areas that no one else dares go. When he is able to slip into the home of a couple whose child has gone missing, filming the inside of the house and catching the parents from an angle no one else is able to get he slowly discovers he has real talent for this work. It also helps to have no scruples and a willingness to tamper with a crime scene (he rearranges some photos for a better shot then looks through the trash for additional info).
Louis just keeps plunging further down the rabbit hole to get the hot “Film at 11.” Yes, Gyllenhaal starts out as a complete sociopath embracing it as the film rolls on but I really don’t think anyone has ever portrayed it better on screen. There is really nothing he won’t do to get the best footage from rearranging a body at an accident scene to get the light just right, entering the home of a multiple homicide before the police arrive and later setting up one of the absolute best car chases I’ve ever seen on film. I mean WOW, it feels like you’re right in the car and I’ve seen a million car chase flicks from the 70s to now. Honestly, aside from the outstanding performances of Gyllenhaal, Russo and Paxton this chase scene is worth watching the movie for all by itself. If you haven’t seen this film it may seem like what I've written here was full of spoilers but honestly it’s not, I’ve left out every little twist, of which there are many, and honestly I can’t describe how awesome Gyllenhaal’s performance really is, you have to witness it. Odds seem to be against him winning the Oscar but, for me, he was the best I’ve seen all year and I do see a lot though unfortunately I have yet to see Birdman in which Michael Keaton seems to be the Oscar favorite (I'll be seeing it shortly though).
Yes, I highly recommend Nightcrawler to all of you horror lovers out there as this is as close as a horror film will probably ever come to winning an Oscar for anything. While obviously this is not a “horror” movie it does show a very real and dark side of humanity and our culture here in America. In this country (and most others if truth be told) under the banner of capitalism, sociopaths are the ones who get ahead. When you don’t care who you fuck over, backstab or step on as you climb that corporate ladder it is only the sociopaths and ego maniacs (often one in the same) that rise to the top. Gyllenhaal’s performance will be downright disturbing to some and as a horror writer I can be honest and say I’ll be taking some things away from this film that will find their way into one demented tale or another. It seems unlikely that Gyllenhaal will actually win, that Russo will even be nominated or the film itself will get any more than a few marginal nominations but as a lover of the dark and dismal I don’t think I really saw a better film all year. This one is probably too disturbing for the pussies in the Academy to vote for but Gyllenhaal definitely gets my nod for best performance and the film itself is way up on my list, not just as a Best of 2014 films, but really of all time. Of course, I am a little sick & twisted. Passing The Scribbler Clock Test wasn’t in question by the 5 minute mark of this one so as if you couldn’t tell, Nightcrawler is…
*Perhaps the only thing lacking in Nightcrawler was a cooler soundtrack. I can't think of a song that would have fit in better both lyrically and tonally than Marilyn Manson's Lamb of God from the Holy Wood album.
Have you seen this cinematic masterpiece Scribbler fans? Everyone is raving about Gyllenhaal but do you think Russo deserves a nomination as I do? Let us know in the comments below.
Feind created this page to bring you random Scribbles about new music, TV, writing or whatever happens to be on my minds.
Like what we do here? Help The Scribblers improve by supporting the arts.