[Alternatives] – Movies – Nightcrawler

Alternatives is the tagline feature for other forms of entertainment outside of discussing literature. These posts may encompass television, movies, games, and music with a randomized flavour of the moment approach to each post.

Movies – Nightcrawler

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama
Duration: 117 Minutes
Directed & Written By: Dan Gilroy

"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 nightcrawling -- 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."

nightcrawler - movie posterNightcrawler—not to be confused with the Marvel mutant—gives a master class in shameless journalism that panders to fear mongering and is served with a side of ambitious, sociopathic enthusiasm of the everyday schmuckn. This is perhaps the superficial layer of the film and it works just fine. But the meaning is rooted in how Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) treats himself as an enterprise. From discovering where his core values and interests lie to business modeling and analytics, every action reinforces Lou’s corporate mantra as he navigates the competitive landscape while maintaining and manipulating his relationships with only success in mind. It becomes incredibly fascinating (and a tad bit frightening) to witness Lou endorse the American dream; an aspect this film paradoxes so well of today’s culture of ambition. “If you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket.” Logically sound, metaphorically resilient—Ayn Rand would surely endorse this film—and it is a meaning best understood post-viewing.

Perhaps a bit of belief has to be suspended regarding the artful intimacy of crime-scene video journalism. Cutthroat as the industry may be to cash in at the expense of others misfortunes; it’s the plausibility of walking up to the accident, busting out that bulky camcorder and shoving wide-angled lenses in people’s face that have me scratching my head a bit. I guess the caution tape is non-existent for those first to the scene. But then there are scenes with officers and paramedics, and these videographers literally walk up, without fuss or need to evidence their legitimacy, and start filming away. Hm.

Why and how is this possible?

This is where the social conscience of a sociopath becomes blurred and where Nightcrawler succeeds in storytelling. Lou is what makes this film bone-chillingly creepy, dark, and alive. It’s in his sleight-of-tongue inspirational aphorisms that delineate the success of this thriller, and perhaps, due credit is given to Gyllenhaal who seems to thrive in character case-studies. Between Zodiac and Nightcrawler, although for different reasons entirely, Gyllenhaal seems to know how much to give as far as unrelenting obsession and passion is concerned. I mean, c’mon, the amount of weight he lost—to the brink of skin and bones—is night and day, and needs to be given credit because it’s another nuanced layer to embodying the lesser-classed and sidelined element to his character. That’s commitment—and kudos to that.

And now, perhaps, a much needed tangent.

What stood out most, aside from my unnerving doubt in Lou’s smile, is the prudency of (or perhaps the differing representation of) journalism in America. This film, released Oct. 31, 2014, comes only days after Canada went on high alert when a gunman shot and killed a soldier on guard near Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Nightcrawler satirizes news by demonstrating the veracity of hysteria and sensationalism in the cultured state of California; perhaps one of the demographic hubs of the country. It acknowledges that ratings and viewership is as (if not more) important than transparency and credible reporting. With the shooting in my nation’s capital, there was a notable discrepancy in reporting between Canada and America. That being said, it isn’t that I don’t understand “why” news culture and media outlets indulge in breaking news with hard-hitting slogans, it’s that when something tense occurs (such as a shooting), non objective-based reporting often comes to light. And where’s the precedent in marginalizing news for an extra penny (or two)? That seems to be where the line is drawn. In Canada, breaking news cites “Soldier dies after Parliament Hill attack, gunman also shot dead,” whereas “Act of War”, “Terror in Canada” headline American networks. Of course this isn’t always the case but it’s certainly food for thought.

So how did I feel at the end of the day? Unsure? Tense? Perhaps borderline nihilistic as the revelations go? I guess I’m perplexed that I rooted for a sociopath and even more weirded out that I could see myself being friends with him. Well…let’s stick to acquaintances for now. Nightcrawler was solid on all levels; especially for the directorial debut of Gilroy.


(Man I can shoot these out so much faster than book reviews LOL.)


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