Why we Love…Nightcrawler

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A reworking of Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you” but I found ‘void’ to be more apt for when describing Nightcrawler, this seminal crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s cold and warped performance inspired the ‘stare’ of the quote.

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Set predominantly in the L.A. nightscape; Nightcrawler follows Louis Bloom, played by Gyllenhaal, an enthusiastic and creepy young person, who just wants to find a job he can be proud off, and he will do anything to achieve his goals. So when he stumbles upon the underground world of freelance crime journalism, he thinks he’s found his calling. And then comes, a dark, twisted, funny, and warped thrill ride into the life of a deeply strange man, as he strives to be the best him he can be.

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This film is commonly referred to as “the modern Taxi Driver” and whether it measures up to that or not, is not the purpose of this post, but I see what they mean. Not that it shares a huge amount with the Scorsese classic, in terms of story, setting, or style; but both depict the life of disturbed people, with timely issues, and something to prove. Taxi Driver dealing with problems of a post-Vietnam America, with themes of loss purpose, and dislocation; while Nightcrawler similarly deals with a post-recession and jobless America. Louis’s obsession with finding a job that satisfies you, and an endless rotary of self-help empowerment mantras, tumblr_nenzi00tdU1tmssd6o3_1280combined with his veneer of a can-do attitude, echoes many promises the recession generation were educated on, but didn’t have delivered. Showing how ruthless someone really has to be to achieve the ever elusive American dream.

And it’s here the film has its first lair of satire; ingeniously parodying a classic rag to riches story, swelling inspirational music and all, but with a detestable character doing inhuman, evil things, to get his riches. And I won’t ruin what happens, but it does have a happy ending.


It also dives head first and balls deep into satirizing the News, as blood thirsty, network2manipulative, and downright evil at times. “If it bleeds, it leads” as is repeated multiple times in the film, with Rene Russo giving a chemical turn as the News show runner, clearly taking inspiration from 1996’s Network, with the satirisation of the ultra-violet media being the focus of that film, but as I haven’t seen it, can’t comment further.

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From left to right: Riz Ahmed (great supporting character). Jake Gyllenhall, Dan Gilroy. Rene Russo

Though it’s a stretch to call anyone here a ‘hero’; the heroes of this film are Jake tumblr_njkba6QKKU1qej1i6o1_500Gyllenhaal, giving still a career best performance in an already well versed one, dropping 20 pounds and digging deep to portray a mere reflection of a real man. The other being Dan Gilroy’s dark, clever and witty script; both married perfectly to fully realize and bring this character and story to life, and give us a sociopath for the digital age. (Move over Sherlock)

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Nightcrawler-Review-645x369Behind the camera Dan Gilroy does a clean job of making the L.A. nightscape a very cold and isolating place, reflecting its lead character, and sharing many shades with Michael Mann’s Collateral, which was clearly an influence. It’s a high-class and pristine looking film, especially for a directorial debut, having a gorgeous neo-noir style; and his motifs of focusing on camera screens to establish how the camera sees things – instead of exactly how they actually are – works as a great and sometimes surreal effect.

But at the same time its probably one of the films weaker aspects, not that there is anigif_enhanced-6602-1414793798-4anything wrong with the direction, just compared to its other elements. It doesn’t seem like it pushes the envelope as much, and has left me wondering how the film would have turned out in the hands of a David Fincher or a Nicolas Winding Refn who could really elevate the material visually- especially for the coherent, if a bit safe, action scenes.

But those little nit-picks aside, we love Nightcrawler because it showed there was still room in Hollywood for new and shocking things, which can be highly original and artistic, while still being major box office hits.

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And good god Jake Gyllenhaal is fucking amaze balls.

Recommendations
If you enjoy Nightcrawler, I also recommend American Psycho and Collateral, two other stylish and darkly funny thrillers, that featuring characters with warped views on life.
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Films Worth Seeing from 2015: The funny ones

Instead of a normal top ten list of the best films of 2015, here’s a list of film worth a watch from 2015, separated by genre and in now real order.

The Comedies (or the next best thing)

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A little seen but a very affectionate film that follows a witty but depressed cartoonist trying to be a single father and bounce back from his divorce. Now it doesn’t sound that different from your atypical rom-com shlock, but with a sensitive script that knows how to pluck your heartstrings to make you laugh and feel, and a surprisingly nuanced turn from Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the concords’ fame) and his chemistry with everyone he shares the screen with, People, Places, Things, becomes the movie equivalent of an awkward bear hug and a nice cup of coffee.

 

Mistress America

mistress_america_poster_midnight_marauder_2The second film this year from Indie director superstar Noah Baumbach, after his critically acclaimed While We’re Young, which was…okay. But he makes up for it here in this sharply funny and very earnest film about adult life, facing your limitations, and the fact that the people who act the happiest rarely really are. All as seen from the POV of an introverted university student as she gets to know her new manic pixy hipster step-sister. Again a bit of a plot-less film, but the shear energy Greta Gerwig brings to her role, and the zany dynamic she and every other character has, takes this film and its characters to a whole other level, and then turns the comedy around to look at the tragedy of it all. It’s possibly his best work since The Squid and the Wale.

The Big Short

the-big-short-movie-posters-001.jpg~original.jpgFrom the director of Anchorman of all people comes the other awesome investigative film of the year, and don’t believe the trailers, that is what this film is. Selling itself as some form of Ocean’s 11 but about the 2008 Credit Crunch, what this film actually turned out to be is a very in-depth and detailed look into all the fraud and corruption the Bank’s did to cause the financial crash. And it’s told from three different parties separately looking into it, each group led by an outstanding Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt. But the trailer didn’t completely lie; this is a comedy (if a thrilling emotional one), with most of the big laughs coming from an enjoyably

Picture1.pngsleazy Ryan Gosling who narrates the film while also having his own place in it, trying to explain to us the inner workings of stock broking, and introduces some ridiculous celebrity cameos. Surprisingly well directed, and masterfully written and acted, it has a few bums and clunks in its tone, but is much more than the fast and funny caper the trailer tried to sell it as.

The Voices

This being Troubled Production’s other producer’s favorite film of 2015, I’d8345_poster_iphone of felt bad if I didn’t mention it somewhere, but that’s far from the biggest reason it’s here. The Voices is a delightfully quirky black comedy from the director of Persepolis (because of course), led by a possibly career best Ryan Reynolds as a mentally ill serial killer who talks to his dog and cat. If that doesn’t sell it to you, nothing will. This film revels, revels, in its warped quirky darkness, and manages to be simultaneously, outlandishly funny, disturbingly dramatic, and just plain charmingly odd because of it. It’s a film with a bonafide destiny to be a cult classic, for the people who like their comedy, dark, violent, and silly. And with this, thevoices0002

Mississippi Grind, and a hopefully awesome Deadpool, let’s hope the underrated Mr Reynolds is back on the rise.

 

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

8c9eb37b259f536f6381af56983f06baThe oddest but most accurate description I’ve heard for this 70s set coming of age dramedy, is that it’s the spiritual sequel to Inside Out…now they don’t mean that the titular teenage girl has a bunch of voices in her head, but is instead referring to that it follows the growing development of a young soon to be woman. As Inside Out ends with Riley on the cusp of teenhood, The diary of a teenage Girl picks up a few years later with a fifteen year old girl’s sexual awakening (forgive me for using the word sexual in the same sentence as Inside Out), and that’s what the film is about in a nutshell; sex. It’s about the first time and the times after that, it’s about becoming comfortable with yours and other’s bodies; Picture2it’s about experimenting and working out what gets you off, and then finding the limits. And I have SUCH respect for this film, because it’s about a fifteen year old’s sexual awakening and it shows it. There are no cutaways or clever angles, you see all of her, and that adds such authenticity to her and her story; because the fact that the film doesn’t shy away from you, means you don’t shy away from it; through every sweet, funny, and emotional moment, on this journey to the end of innocence and the start of everything else.

Man Up

This is that special romantic comedy large_large_y7C1EQ9zxJ3mlaQeRztw3NVw41Pthat’s the perfect mix of cynicism and cheese ball romance, of those little moments and grand gestures. And is the best non-blockbuster/ Edgar Wright film Simon Pegg has ever done. Following a 30 something woman in a romantic rut, she ends up stealing someone else’s blind date, and going on an amazing date with them instead. Now with that set-up this could have easily turned into a basic liar revealed plot, but I’m happy to say it doesn’t (if it did would it be here), and instead goes off in much sweeter and funnier directions. It’s definitely one of the funniest films of the year, and the perfect date movie for people who hate date movies.

Sleeping with Other people

236272This is just funny. Yeah it’s sweet, raunchy, and romantically mature too at times, but mostly it’s just funny. Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie make a strong double act, playing two sex addicts who start a platonic friendship to try and help each-other deal with their relationship issues, and of course fall in love along the way. So it does get a bit too cliché at the end, but the journey there is so fun and so tastefully raunchy it’s still definitely worth a watch.

 

 

 

Me, and Earl, and the Dying girl

Along with The Big Short, and The me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-poster-olivia-cookeDiary of A Teenage Girl, this is the other film pushing the boundary for ‘comedy’ this year. Not because it isn’t funny, it’s filled to the brim with funny teen angst and witticisms, but it’s also about a girl dying of cancer, and this isn’t no Fault in Our Stars shit (I say actually liking that film), and stays far away from schmaltz, opting for a much bleaker and deadpan look at teen life and death, and has no quorum ramping up the seriousness and heart wrench when the time comes. Now it maybe too self-indulgent and referential for some people and it definitely reeks of 90’s teen dramedy at times, but past that I found a very earnest and true look at teen life on the outside and at dealing with death, that really captures the teenage voice.

Top 5

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Oh and Top 5 was pretty funny. Forgot about that one till I just came to post this.