Between last year's Prisoners -- a movie that's good enough but best when Gyllenhaal is on screen -- and this year's one-two punch of Enemy and now Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal is on one hell of a roll. Though he has the handsomeness and good-natured charm of a romantic leading man, Gyllenhall is drawn to weirdos and darker characters lately. That he's able to play them without calling attention to their weirdness -- the performances are much more than a series of ticks and choices (take notes, Johnny Depp) -- is what makes the work compelling. That he's fucking great in the roles is what makes them essential viewing. Nightcrawler is his best character to date and a career-best performance. He's the whole movie.
Gyllenhaal creates an all-timer in Lou Bloom, a highly motivated and savvy sociopath who gets by as a petty thief while hunting for his big break, whatever that might be. One night he happens upon an accident, paying little attention to the victims or the first responders but instead to the cameraman filming the scene. Lou finds his calling as a freelance videographer specializing in crime scenes, which he sells to Nina Romina (Rene Russo), the news director of the last-place network news show in Los Angeles. It's a career in which Lou is able to succeed very quickly, as he lacks the moral compass or ethical conscience to hold him back. He's a nightcrawler.
It's also a movie that says a lot about Los Angeles that doesn't go out of its way to SAY SOMETHING about Los Angeles. While its commentary about human nature could be true of almost any major city in the United States, there's something about about the town's connection to media and the savage opportunism that makes it very specific to L.A. (change the crime scenes to celebrity sightings and Lou Bloom is every asshole paparazzi shooting for TMZ). Gilroy films it as well as anyone since Michael Mann, focusing on real streets and ordinary locations the way only someone who knows the city can. It's one of the best L.A. movies I've seen in some time.
But, of course, the real draw of the movie is Gyllenhaal's brilliant performance. Gaunt, bug-eyed, intense and polite in a way that feels forced and rehearsed -- Lou Bloom isn't a person, just doing his best impression of one based on what he's read online -- this is the kind of character that will become a kind of cultural reference point as we try to describe a certain type of horrible individual ("He's a Lou Bloom type..."). Gyllenhaal is electric in the way he disappears into the character, creating a guy who is at once pitiable and yet who we begrudgingly admire -- as Hitchcock said, audiences love a guy who's good at his job. What I love about Lou Bloom is that he shouldn't be underestimated. There are so many movies that would have made his ambition a fatal flaw or his inability to connect with other people (which is explained in one of the movie's best and darkest lines of dialogue) his downfall. Instead, Gilroy's screenplay and Gyllenhaal's performance keeps Lou several steps ahead of everyone else. He's a monster, sure, but one I found myself rooting for.
It's also nice to see Rene Russo getting her first great part in a number of years (it helps that she is married to writer/director Gilroy); not surprisingly, she rises to the challenge. The only thing that really separates Nina from Lou Bloom is that Nina is able to function in normal society -- she plays the part better than he can. Movies have trained us to expect her to be repelled by Lou because of his inexperience and his blunt abrasiveness, but Nightcrawler is smart to show Nina drawn to those exact qualities -- he's who she is on the inside but must pretend not to be. Whether he's confronting her with observations about the news business or making blackmail demands to further his career, it might as well be pillow talk for Nina.
As good as I thought Gyllenhall was.....I get the feeling that L.A. Doug would have been perfect for the role.ReplyDelete
Sadly, his asking price was too high.Delete
Great review. I really enjoyed all of the fun the movie poked at corporate philosophy and how it masks in some cases that companies don't really like their employees very much.ReplyDelete
I also enjoyed Gyllenhaal's delivery of modern management philosophy.Delete
I was planning on getting super duper stoned and going to the theater today...I was planning on seeing John Wick, cause I love me some Keanu, but now I may have to see this.ReplyDelete
I totally thought of Mann in terms of how the movie was photographed. It looks great. It also has a good chance of ending on my favorites list, too, which I was totally not expecting, but I loved it. Gyllenhaal elevates the crap out of it, for sure. I watched a review on YouTube where the guy reviewing it stated that if Gyllenhaal doesn't get an Oscar nomination, then there is something seriously wrong with the Academy. While I already think that is a reality, I agree that his being snubbed would only solidify that fact.ReplyDelete
Just got back from this movie a couple of hours ago, Gyllenhaal is an absolute chameleon on the screen. He has solidified his spot as my favorite actor performing today. I left the theater with such an uneasy feeling as I felt my self relating to Lou on some level and that was discomforting. Beside that, it was an incredibly good looking movie and I found myself really falling in love with the night-side of L.A. in movies like this. It compliments the shell of a man that Lou is by being in a city of plastic and neon.ReplyDelete
With this and Gone Girl I can say the two movies I was looking forward to in the fall surpassed even my expectations. They would both be in my top three of 2014 (Guardians being in third).ReplyDelete
Gyllenhaal is just fascinating to watch on screen, but I've felt he's done that for much of his career. I loved the twists and turns Bloom takes in this movie, Even if he can be a lathesome person at times, sometimes his ambition and motivations are so magnanimous, that I couldn't help but want him to succeed (at least until the end). You basically get to go on a ride with him at night, in which I both admired and was sickened by Bloom.
I would say almost without a doubt Gyllenhaal is the best actor under the age of 35, his last six major roles have ranged from very good to excellent (Zodiac, Source Code, End of Watch, Prisoners, Enemy, and now Nightcrawler). I wouldn't put up any argument for anyone who said any of them are their favorite movie of the year. He's far removed from the days of Prince of Persia and The Day After Tomorrow (although I do have mild affection for October Sky).
I also want to defend Real Steel for a bit; it's not a good movie, but at least it wasn't Transformers bad (which is what I expected). I didn't mind watching it the one time around. Now I'll never watch it again, but I enjoyed it enough to say it wasn't a complete waste of my time.
You had me at Ace In The Hole.ReplyDelete
I predicted Jake was great after the 6ft tall bunny rabbit movie. A polarising movie I know. But not his performance. Those long scene's staring into space without blinking. He had me at Donnie DarkoReplyDelete
Hey F-heads. I have a quick phone question. I have a Galaxy S5, and I listen to the F This Movie! podcasts on Podcast Republic. However, as Patrick always says, only the 99 most recent eps show up on the subscription page on any podcast apps. My question is this: when I download podcasts as audio files onto my phone, is there a way to convert them into a podcast format so that they can be played like normal podcasts? Let me know if you all have good/sneaky workarounds. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, I don't know the answer (I'm not very tech savvy). But someone help this man!Delete
I download to a samsung phone straight from the website at fthismovie directly over wifi from the podcast section. Its easy enough. Save the downloaded file to your phone as it is as an mp3. There is no need to convert to any other format. As long as you have a music player on your phone to play mp3s all is good. Vlc player is free for android and plays all types of files if your default player will not play them. You definitely dont need to reformat at all. Good luck
Dennis, I hear what you're saying, but the problem I run in to is listening to podcasts on the default music player on the phone; the default music player on the phone lacks the features of a dedicated podcast app, which saves the place of multiple podcasts, allows for short rewinds/fast forwards, and categorizes all podcasts into their respective channels. I download the podcasts off of the page similar to how you do it, but I was just curious if there a way to move files around on the Samsung/Android OS in such a way that the phone will allow them to play on a podcast app. I really appreciate the feedback.Delete
My movie contribution is that I watched (and enjoyed) John Wick on Saturday, and would highly recommend it to those who say they love action movies, Keanu, or simple (not bad) plots. To me, it played as a low-stakes mix of Shoot Em Up and Man from Nowhere. Keanu plays as the Patrick-termed "otherness" and...that's the movie. SPOILERS What really made the movie for me was Michael Nyqvist (from the Millennium trilogy), who really chews it up as the eventual main villain. Just watch it for his performance; I found myself rooting for his character a lot of the time, and it makes me want to find and watch more of his work.
Fair enough Jon. I thought you were struggling to play them. You're best bet is to find the format of file you use for your podcast app first then research file converters. There may or may not be file converters for android. There are definitely file converters for windows to do this. Sorry I dont know a way around. Seems like file converters are the easiest solution I can think of to use the way you like. Good luckDelete
Thanks again. I appreciate the help. If I find a solution, then I will post it here.
I'm going to see Nightcrawler this weekend and cannot wait! I've actually really liked Jake Gyllenhaal for a while, probably ever since Zodiac, so it's nice to see that he's finally getting some attention. Between Source Code, Prisoners, Enemy, and Nightcrawler, he has turned into a great leading man and action star.ReplyDelete
I read a review somewhere that compared his performance in Nightcrawler to Robert De Niro's in Taxi Driver. From what I've seen of the trailers it seems like it has kind of the same vibe.
Quite possibly my favorite movie of the year and def. one of the best performances I've seen in a long time. Great review Patrick.ReplyDelete
Gyllenhaal was amazing in Nightcrawler. I think it might be his best performance, or at least his most unique. While he's giving the speech to the construction boss about the old-fashioned principles of hard work and bettering yourself, I almost got on board with him. Then the boss comes back with a blunt but true response, which is revisited powerfully in a later shot of the film. He later devolves beyond all sympathy, but his presence is still hypnotizing.ReplyDelete
As a whole I really enjoyed it. I guess my only issue with the movie is that it's tough to make a statement about the flaws in an economic system or world view when your case subject is a complete psycho. Bloom is like one of those sci-fi robots who has all the correct programming, but gets its priorities mixed up and starts killing humans to save valuable cargo or something. Kind of like Wolf of Wall Street, it presents an extreme exaggeration of things our society promotes. Wolf is alot more frightening and effective, though, because it's all true. On the other hand, I think it has some really interesting things to say about what we demand from television. It's also just a great character study. Simply seen as a movie and not a social statement, it works amazingly well and might be one of the best all year.
PS: My enjoyment of Nightcrawler might have been affected a bit by the fact that my friend confused it with the Night Stalker killer. I knew nothing about the movie, and went with him under the assumption I was seeing a film about a serial killer. Spent most of the time waiting for a shoe that never dropped.
I watched without prior knowledge and very much enjoyed it. Clever script, strong performances, compelling scenes: a solidly entertaining movie. Also enjoyed the gritty L.A. underbelly at night aspect similar to Drive (2011).ReplyDelete
I'm glad you mentioned Drive! I'd been trying to figure out what the style reminded me of and I think that's it. The L.A. at night thing probably owes a good bit to Michael Mann's Collateral too, but Nightcrawler feels a little more dark, like you're out in the suburbs instead of downtown.Delete
For a movie that tries so hard to be disturbing, Nightcrawler is actually quite comforting. It takes a societal sickness and blames it on a boogeyman.ReplyDelete
Well, not really. Gyllenhaal is not playing some kind of 'big other' in the way Jaws does, nor is he offered as the explanation for what is wrong with society. The society is sick before he show up, the fact that he thrives in this society shows how warped it really is. The film argues that we live in a world built for socio-paths to succeed.Delete
I wish Nightcrawler had a more subtle ending. The beginning was more character study than the end, which I found more "statement of society". Statement-making always waters down the story for me (unless you're making a POSITIVE statement about society- which is fascinating because it's very rarely done and difficult and beautiful to articulate).ReplyDelete
I found Renee Russo's character way more interesting at the Mexican restaurant table, too, than at the end. Maybe if they showed the dynamics of she and Louis hooking up (come on that would have been interesting) I would have more evidence to help me believe that she succumbed to the darker side of herself.