Monday, June 27, 2016

Nightcrawler (2014)

Number Rolled: 20
Movie Name/Year: Nightcrawler (2014)
Tagline: The closer you look, the darker it gets.
Genre: Drama
Length: 117 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Bold Films, Sierra / Affinity, Nightcrawler
Producer: Betsy Danbury, Garrick Dion, Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Juliana Guedes, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak, Gary Michael Walters, Stephanie Wilcox
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, James Huang, Kent Shocknek, Pat Harvey, Sharon Tay, Rick Garcia, Bill Seward, Rick Chambers, Holly Hannula, Carolyn Gilroy, Kevin Rahm, Ann Cusack, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed

Blurb from Netflix: A young hustler gets sucked into the sordid but lucrative business of trolling the streets of Los Angeles to film fires, car crashes -- and murder.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is one of the films I was really looking forward to watching. I enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal’s (Donnie Darko, Southpaw, End of Watch) work and I have heard nothing but good things about Nightcrawler. Unfortunately, the movie just didn’t resonate with me.

Normally, I watch my Monday film on Sunday night in order to have the blog up and ready on time the next day. However, as most of you probably know, the Game of Thrones (2011 -) season finale aired last night. Due to that, I was out with friends at a viewing party until very late. (No spoilers, but it was epic. Two of my theories were proven true and my friends and I had a lot to debate.)

Instead of watching the film late at night when I got home, and trying to give it a fair shot while exhausted, I simply fired up Steam and played some video games before bed. That way I was fresh, rested, and excited to see the film Monday afternoon.

The actors were great. Rene Russo (Thor, Lethal Weapon 4, The Intern) and Jake Gyllenhaal are both very good actors and you’d expect nothing but the best from them. I’m much less familiar with Riz Ahmed (Day of the Falcon, Rage, Centurion), but even he was absolutely believable. The script and plot weren’t bad either. Even the music, costume design, and settings were on point.

Still, I wasn’t feeling it.

I think my issue is that they tried to stretch what could have been a 90 minute movie into a full two hours. That made certain scenes seem too long or repetitive. I have no problem sitting through a long movie. I’ve sat through three hour films without blinking an eye… but they have to need to be that length. If a production company or a director is stretching scenes to meet a certain time or is too conservative about cutting scenes that aren’t necessary… it makes a film feel like it’s dragging.

Although I only had the one issue with Nightcrawler, it was enough to pull me out of it. I was bored for the majority of the film. However, I think that was mostly personal opinion and not professional.

Really, I believe the movie is a lot better than I thought it was. I think my opinion is influenced by issues that probably shouldn’t affect it. For that reason, I’m going to give this film a 50/50 score and urge people to pay more attention to Cat’s opinion for this week.

Cat’s Point of View:
The first thing I have to say about this movie is… wow.

I am currently fighting the urge to go shower until my hot water runs out, because this film left me feeling grimy. This wasn’t a gore-fest by any means. I don’t feel dirty because of any salacious imagery. I just feel like I’ve been dragged through the gritty sludge that occupies the space where the main character’s morals and social consciousness should have occupied.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead, Source Code, Enemy) is an amazing actor. I am seriously flummoxed that he didn’t get at least nominated for an Oscar with this one. I admire his ability to chameleon into roles. He dropped a significant amount of weight for this role, just as he put on a significant amount of muscle for his role as a boxer. I barely even recognized him in Everest (2015).

He did most of his own driving stunts in this film; and even got so into the moment in an improvisation with one scene that he cut himself and had to go to the hospital for 14 stitches. He barely even blinks for this role – seriously. (He did it on purpose, too.)

The portrayal of Lou Bloom was eerie and actually made me feel uncomfortable as I watched him. I’ve seen the character described as a charming sociopath. I don’t know about that – the vibe I got from him was anything but charm. However, there was a savant-like brilliance about the guy that was near mesmerizing.

This is more than a crime thriller. This film looks at the underbelly of news media, and brings up the heavy questions of not ‘can we’ but ‘should we’ air such images of the worst things imaginable. Is the documentation and awareness of an event as important as the people it is happening to?

Sure, it’s not exactly true-to-life in that people can’t just walk into a newsroom like that off the streets. The movie is successful, however, in suspending that disbelief.

I would highly recommend this film. I wouldn’t mind watching it again, even. For those with a sensitive conscience, however, steel yourself first – this one will make you squirm.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 85%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

P.S. This film was very loosely based on the real-life career of Arthur “Weegee” Fellig.

P.S.2. There’s some speculation that this film takes place in the same universe as Drive (2011), another movie reviewed by Trust the Dice that starred Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys, Only God Forgives, Lars and the Real Girl), was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher, Only God Forgives, Valhalla Rising) and written by Hossein Amini (47 Ronin, Jude, Killshot). The basis for this theory is a diner setting used in both movies that was filmed in the same location and set up the same way. It’s worth noting, as part of this theory, that both films have connections to the production company: Bold Films.

Movie Trailer:

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