NIGHTCRAWLER [2014]

mmt819-flat-packshot-medium

Directed and written by Dan Gilroy

Despite knowing almost nothing about it, I have been looking forward to seeing this flick for a good half-a-year. The dark atmosphere of it must have drawn me in, as the name Dan Gilroy meant nothing to me. My gut wasn’t lying. I walked into the cinema during what looked like one of the very first scenes, and moments after sitting down, I was hooked. Being three rows back and having to crane my neck upwards didn’t bother me, as this crime-drama moves so fast, so smoothly and efficiently that the angle of my neck wasn’t a problem at any point. Even the constant sound of potato chip packets crackling, those inconsiderate twits who seem to make as much noise as they can was an afterthought at best. The film was so engrossing that it distracted me from things that normally drive me up the wall in a cinema. A certain positive sign to start then!

This movie takes an extremely basic concept: an aspiring ‘nightcrawler’ who will do anything he can to muscle his may into the business, and turns it into a fantastic, sprawling drama that is filled with high-impact scenarios, each one propelling both Lou Bloom and the movie itself forward with increased momentum. There are moments that will tense you up, many more that will have you laughing out loud, and even more that will leave a giant grin on your face as the witty and fast-moving dialogue is delivered pitch perfect by Mr. Gyllenhaal. His chemistry with the few side characters in the film was also immediately apparent. The small amount of locations and actors suggest a low-budget, which just makes me respect Jake even more. Dan Gilroy also, the movie looks and feels like a slick production.

From this simple concept of a lowly ‘nightcrawler’ looking to make his name, many themes can be seen woven into the narrative, some more obvious that others, but all handled expertly. This is a deceptively simple film that is an extremely entertaining character study on its surface, but it additionally has many layers that help it entertain in the way it does. These different elements hold a giant, unsettling, ugly-arse mirror to the Western society we live in.

The satire and social commentary on contemporary media, the way it is consumed and produced in modern society is studied perfectly, though without much sense of subtlety, especially from those who are behind the scenes, giving orders and helping the news-anchors to make each story as enticing as possible. The movie highlights, in a very sensationalised way, how mainstream news functions; how content is decided on, and how it is tailor-made to leave the viewers as uninformed as possible about issues that actually matter.

I mean, think for a second about any commercial news ‘bulletins’ you have watched recently.

How many good/positive news stories made up those 30 minutes? How many of the stories were truly relevant to your life and way of living? How many disasters/killings/robberies were shown? This movie is not subtle, but it doesn’t preach at all, and the entire concept of the film is a perfect metaphor for the way fear is used in commercial television to keep avid watchers afraid, yet glued to the box. If the state of the world is getting you down, I advise against watching this movie!!

Another layer of the movie that impressed me was the realistic, though of course exaggerated, depiction of a man who is a ”quick learner”. A seemingly lonely person whose main focus and passion in life is his career, and how high he can climb within the hierarchy no matter the consequences. Lou though seems to have a dark streak, highlighted perfectly by his eyes: they seem like two black holes, windows to a dark soul and dark intentions. At a certain point in the movie he begins to wear shades, hiding his eyes from view. This seems to indicate his self-confidence as his expliots become more daring.

His intense attitude towards his career goals creates an immensely driven, fearless, confident man who will do anything to get the next shoot. He is an exaggerated version of many career orientated people, desperately clawing to become more important, to wield more power over others.

A further element of this film that I enjoyed was during the scenes where Lou is nightcrawling: in particular, each time he is shooting footage. I found myself watching the film while also picturing what his video would look like, paying attention to how he approached each shoot. At times it felt like a film within a film, as you can see his technique and quality of gear steadily improve as the movie moves on. This feeling is apparent also when he is telling someone else how to use the camera to get a good shot, or how he casually explains exactly what he thinks makes a shot attractive to a potential viewer. These elements aren’t accidental and they create a unique feeling of watching a movie that, as a part of the plot, features a character focusing on good camerawork and solid technique himself, much like the director. Any student of film will be in heaven. The scenes of Lou nightcrawling are so well done that I felt a jolt of excitement each time he found a new lead. The songs chosen to lead up to each of these sequences were chosen with care and add to this sensation, as this film ditches a classical score for a Scorsese-like approach, and is better off for it. Each new track adds more energy to the scene as you wonder what Lou will stumble into.

The dialogue reigns supreme here though, the main aspect that allows the movie to cover so much ground. I said it before and hell, why not, I’ll say it again: Jake had the luxury of working with one of the tightest and well-written scripts I can remember in recent memory. Many times Lou is speaking in a rapid-fire fashion, and the fact that all of these sequences are easy to follow is yet another testament to the fantastic dialogue. It is engaging as all hell and you won’t want to miss anything; hell, I needed to pee halfway through but I couldn’t pull myself away! The dialogue moves the film forward so well that I didn’t want to miss a line, especially if it is one of many humourous scenes where Lou tends to batter people senseless using wit and arrogance combined with his manic, rapid-fire delivery of lines.

Damn daaayuuuumm, fuck me sideways with a pitchfork, this is near perfect, I can’t think of a thing wrong with it. It even has an OST I’d love to get my mits on. 2014 has been a very, very solid year for film. If I was to make a ‘top ten’ list for this year, this would be an easy lock at #2 so far; the incredibly moving and intense Whiplash beating it out by a bee’s dick.

4.5/5 – Simply a must see flick

written by epilepticmoondancer