Nightcrawler Review


You leave the movie theatre with a slightly sick feeling of guilt after watching Nightcrawler.  Guilt that you actually enjoyed this rather original moviemaking set in an ethical and moral vacuum.  In that sense the movie is entirely ironic.  You shouldn’t be enjoying this stuff.

It’s an exposition of entirely greed-induced (financial and ego driven) naked ambition that rivals Wolf of Wall Street for it’s blithe abandon of normal ethical practice.

Gyllenhaal, as Louis Bloom, almost cadaveresque after his dramatic weight loss for the part, is as unsympathetic a movie character as you’ve seen in a very long time.  His back story, which is precisely zilch, renders him a characte in search of a meaning.  A loner, a drifter, a thief, unemployed (unemployable is the truth) and entirely without remorse – emotion for that matter – stumbles upon a freelance career as an, at first hapless then really rather good, ambulance chasing ‘scene of the crime’ news cameraman.

Starting with motorway crashes and graduating to suburban crime scenes (where the threat of middle America being intruded upon by ‘Hispanics’ and other Liberal American ethnic minorities) he captures more and more challenging newsreel material that feeds the sensation-lust of an LA loser News Station’s News Editor, Nina Romina, played deliciously by Rene Russo.

Romina’s sponsorship of, and belief in, the expert blagging of Bloom feeds his desire for greater success and indeed for Romina herself.  In a toe curling ‘date’ at a camp Mexican restaurant Bloom lays it on the line with Romina in a scene of toe-curling embarrassment.  It’s as if Gyllenhaal is playing for laughs, but he’s deadly serious.

Throughout, Gyllenhaal commands the screen.  The Nightime lighting constantly picking out his skeletal, eye bulging look that makes him look like the devil incarnate.  This truly is an evil character and Gyllenhaal’s trademark smirk only adds to the perverse sense of evil pleasure he is gaining as his success mushrooms.

A recurring theme in the movie is his watering of a pot plant in his flat.  It’s as if it’s the only living thing he cares two bucks about.  Certainly his hapless sidekick/assistant Rick, played by Riz Ahmed, has next to no chance in this little hothouse world of emotion-free ambition.

Gyllenhaal’s faux management style ‘development’ of Rick is at times darkly amusing but usually just plain vacuous and ironic given that he draws from real world self help and management lingo that’s bad enough in the corporate world, but downright bizarre in this micro universe.

The car chases are gripping edge of seat affairs, the plot, although it has holes in the final reel (quite big ones I felt) is nevertheless highly original and unfolds at a steady pace.

The conclusion was, to my mind at least, a little disappointing, but aside from this a good, dark, star vehicle for Jake and possibly a step towards another best actor nomination.

Gone Girl – review


David Fincher doesn’t do bad movies, what with Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Se7en, Zodiac and, for those that liked it, Benjamin Button under his belt

Of late, neither does Gone Girl’s star, Ben Affleck (Argo was awesome, although I’m not so sure how good I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meathook, and Now I Have a Three Picture Deal at Disney was).

So it was no real surprise that Gone Girl really does live up to its hype.

I’ve not read the book but I’m reliably informed that it’s very true to it (perhaps not surprising given that the screenplay was by the novel’s author, Gillian Flynn).

I’m not going to spoil the plot here because it’s very much plot driven with more twists than Chubby Checker, but in my opinion it’s a right riveting two and a half hours; yes two and a half hours!

Essentially it’s a did he (Affleck) didn’t he, murder his wife vehicle in which the possible killer’s motives and evidence veer massively from ‘of course he didn’t’ to ‘of course he did’ and back again several times.

The action unfolds in four acts, each slowly releasing its story before you hit a “did that just really happen?” moment.  And Fincher is the perfect guy to handle this as a proven master of plot development.  The result is that you are slowly but surely drawn deeper and deeper into its labyrinthine construct as the movie progresses.

The  supporting cast is led by Rosamund Pike who, as the Gone Girl, gets a lot of screen time but fails to clear the bar set by Affleck.  There’s something miscast about her, she just isn’t all that attractive as a person – that would be my only real criticism of the film.

Aside from her there’s affecting performances by Carrie Coon as Nick’s (Affleck’s) twin sister and Kim Dickens as the main investigating cop (a bit of a nod to Frances McDormand in Fargo in the way she plays it).  Tyler Perry plays a neat part as the defence lawyer although it’s a relatively small part.

I really liked this movie.  Although whether it retains its place in IMDB’s top 80 movies of all time for long remains to be seen.