Nightcrawler, 2014

This review may contain spoilers.

Bold Films, A24, Fox Searchlight

Creepy. Plain old simple creepy. This one belongs to the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. One look at the still shot of the empty billboard and the freeway, in the beginning, and the entire place gets filled with copious amounts of nothing. A barren land, a body devoid of soul, a man consigned to isolation and oblivion. The will to live broken so many times that it must acquire disfigurement in order to repair itself.

Nightcrawler is the basement sequence from Fincher‘s  Zodiac, 2007, it is Fassbender crawling in human waste in his cell (Hunger, 2008). This film is so dense with transitioning emotions and projecting control that the viewer is actually quite terrified by the otherwise sinfully charming, yet gaunt, and the highly manipulative and cunning Louis Bloom, played by someone who actually had the nerve to take the character head-on and make Dan Gilroy‘s direction (first time) and screenplay worthy of the actor’s massive talent. I look at Jake Gyllenhaal very differently now and with much more admiration than before.

The art direction takes the viewer down with it, as the lights get dim and the air gets stuffy. Listen to Louis talk, watch him say the most profound things, watch him take control and upstage a veteran actor, who holds her own; the beautiful and cold-hearted Nina, played by the ravishing Rene Russo. And she’s not twice my age.

Bill Paxton is jealous of the new guy, and he shows it in his Pvt. Hudson-like mannerism, which is what gets him eaten by an alien every time. It’s all awfully harrowing; Nightcrawler is still doing rounds in my head with its themes of snuff, greed, post-modern journalism:

Nina: “How much can we show?”
Producer: “Legally?”
Nina: “No, morally… Of course legally.”

While blatantly implicating the viewers, Dan Gilroy throws at us an assumption, which I believe is more than just that; by watching sensationalized accounts, the keen viewer is equally guilty of supporting unethical journalism. Gilroy directs his film as an open critique on both, the modern-day media and its role in shaping the consumer culture, or distorting the whole damn deal. The decision of what is newsworthy and what is not, is mainly based on ethnicity and racial biases.

Nina Romina the news director at KWLA6, is all pretty and harmless on the outside, but an obsessive-compulsive by nature, also unethical and intentionally oblivious to the source of the next headline. For if it isn’t for Nina, our anti-hero would just be a peeping Tom (and just look what happened to Michael Powell after he made what he made in 1960), something very similar to what Hitchcock made in the US, and Psycho is considered to be completely new film territory, a proverbial telling of mental illness with Janet Leigh taking a fateful shower. On the other hand, the audiences in the UK were just not ready or perhaps still held on to a certain basic set of values for Peeping Tom to be accepted, let alone appreciated. It would take another two decades for the film to be welcomed and acknowledged. And not all of it had to do with the culture of Britain in the Eighties, just that, no one, it seems, even now, can look beyond the cleverness, blazing aptitude and vigorous artistry of Psycho.

Now, with all imperative intact and desires laid out, all psychosomatic complexities of Louis are performed with impeccable restraint and the precision with which the psychological layers have been kept from making contact; layers upon distorted layers forming deep within the dark heart of our anti-hero, and not interfering with the other, simply there as a thick file on Bloom.

Louis Bloom is restless, drawn and uninviting and also smiling. His light moments are mostly and ironically under authoritative pressure and draining consequences. He looks resigned at the start but strangely keeps rejuvenating throughout the length of the feature as his mind deconstructs and erases certain significant lines between morality and the other side, making him confident as a character, resulting in him being resilient and high-headed with the same people whose sight made him cower, just minutes earlier.

Jake Gyllenhaal is scary as fuck (I am still, after so many years, confused by that association, anyway) as the tortured and perverted Lou Bloom, in this visually stunning and dark as heck film. And the rest of the deal gives him enough space to wreak havoc on the audience and have the audacity to smile that implicit, very fake and soulless and raddled, empty smile that makes the viewer want to go hide under the bed at the sight of a sickly but a seemingly normal enough guy with a video camera and the horn-rimmed shades, straight from the Sixties along with the dark grey windbreaker.

Little things, that give the movie an extra something; perhaps a reference to the period where the dailies shouted the names of serial killers quite often, thus making their trials TV Dinner and eventually making them demi-gods and pop-culture icons with a mass intrigue behind the man in control or the handsome chameleon who bludgeoned women to death with blunt objects. I have yet to witness women romanticize misogyny. Only in America.

With a drum solo by Bonzo-score by the brilliant James Newton Howard, which includes some serious guitar chops of the heavy metal variety, Nightcrawler impresses with its character performances, Gothic visuals, and an impending sense of dread. Plus it also scared the living daylights out of me. Double whammy.

Creepy to the bone.
Damn.
Whew.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCDgPqcYatY

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