Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Press record: “Nightcrawler” is wicked, gruesome fun

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | November 12th, 2014

One of the best films of 2014, Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” is thrilling metafiction that simultaneously wallows in and critiques the lurid relationship between violent crime and broadcast/cable/Internet news. The writer-director also thoroughly explores the insatiable hunger of the viewing public to devour stories of death and mayhem, and does so with a jet-black comic touch. Additionally, Gilroy’s movie is clearly made by a film lover for film lovers, deliciously referencing several beloved titles. In particular, “Nightcrawler” is the twitchy offspring of two 1976 masterpieces: Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network” and Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader’s “Taxi Driver.” Paying homage to the former’s satirical bite and the latter’s diary of madness, “Nightcrawler” shimmers and vibrates from start to finish.

We meet Jake Gyllenhaal’s hollow-eyed Lou Bloom in the middle of a late night theft of some chain link fencing that he sells to a shady scrapyard. When Lou opens his mouth to request a job from the dubious night manager, a torrent of fortune cookie wisdom, self-help platitudes, and motivational poster-speak (“My motto is, if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket”) sounds an alarm that Bloom is not entirely in balance. Lou’s chance encounter with a veteran “nightcrawler” – a crime scene videographer in the tradition of street photojournalist Weegee who prowls the streets for opportunities to document fresh disaster – inspires him to pick up a camera and start collecting his own footage.

Bloom blooms, and soon embarks on an odyssey decidedly more bloody than the one experienced by his Dublin-based namesake, although as a character, Lou has more in common with “God’s lonely man” Travis Bickle than with James Joyce’s famous peripatetic. Like the damaged cabbie, Lou is a volatile cocktail blending one part childlike naivete with two parts bad ideas. Bloom’s earnestness only escalates the creep factor, especially when he starts to deliberately blur the line between documenting and creating the “news” that he sells to Rene Russo’s Nina Romina.

As the unscrupulous, desperate TV veteran, Russo is dynamite in “Nightcrawler,” and her scenes with Gyllenhaal suggest that when people without morals or ethics form an alliance based on radical frankness, the results can be gonzo. Nina’s handling of Lou’s vile sexual blackmail is one of Gilroy’s nastiest surprises. Less surprising is the thanatotic impulse that drives these two creatures more than money and libido. Outside the station, Lou’s eager trainee Rick (Riz Ahmed, in a riveting performance) learns these lessons and then some.

Long before Lou trades his clunky beater for a shiny red Challenger to more quickly arrive at crime scenes, Gilroy has established his gutsy, cockeyed view of rapacious capitalism. Crazy, untrustworthy, and feverish, Lou’s ambition is matched only by Nina’s merciless survival instinct, and their alliance is as toxic as it is deliciously, impossibly absurd. Not everyone will accept Gilroy’s sense of humor, although the shot of Lou chuckling at a clip from “The Court Jester” is tough to deny. Writing in “Variety,” Scott Foundas makes the claim that “Touches of apocalyptic comedy run throughout ‘Nightcrawler,’ but the movie’s overriding tone is one of strident, finger-wagging self-seriousness.” Never for a second, however, did I read Gilroy’s intentions as didacticism.

“Nightcrawler” is a movie that could earn its own section in any update of Thom Andersen’s “Los Angeles Plays Itself.” From Venice Beach to the Capitol Records Building to the LAPD’s Hollywood Station, ace cinematographer Robert Elswit reimagines iconic landmarks for the umpteenth time. Lou’s scanner eavesdrops on the police band, guiding him like the Grim Reaper to locations in the Hollywood Hills and all over the sprawling San Fernando Valley; and many of the neon-lit rides call to mind the nocturnal automotive allure of films like “Collateral,” “Drive” and several dozen film noir classics from the mid-20th century that led the way.  

Recently in:

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Attorney General’s office announced Friday it is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for gross negligence and tortious acts during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy in 2016.The state has…

The 45th Annual Downtown Fargo Street Fair has been making efforts to increase the number of local vendors. The Local Block will be located at the north end of the 300 block on Broadway, near the Fargo Theatre.The High Plains…

Thursday, July 26 at 5 p.m.-midnightFargo Brewing Company, 610 N University, FargoHip hop artist, community activist, and member of Rhymesayers, Brother Ali will appear with Nooky Jones at The Fargo Brewing Company. Nooky Jones was…

With all of the excitement surrounding the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana, why aren’t we discussing the possibilities of industrial hemp? You might not catch a buzz from it but there’s all kinds of other…

“Hi Ho, Hi Ho! It’s Off To Work We Go!”How many undocumented workers are in the United States? Estimates range from 11 to 25 million. We need some history to understand why our immigration laws are in such a mess. The most…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Food truck fever

by HPR Contributor

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comHave you all been to Taco Brothers Taco Truck yet? Or how about Poke Bowl Food Truck? Have you tried the Walleye Wrap at Chef Mobile? There may have been a few mobile food establishments in decades…

We had a chance to chat with Duluth native Gaelynn Lea at Winnipeg Folk Festival. Not only did she tell us how she developed her sound she told us about her experience winning the NPR Tiny Desk Concert and the trials and…

Boots Riley hallucinates a wildly funny feature debut with “Sorry to Bother You,” a sharp-fanged social satire that mashes up the innovative handmade aesthetics of Michel Gondry with the fierce truth-to-power consciousness of…

Arts

Dan Mihuta: The Art Maker

by HPR Contributor

By Rod Hadland rodanthonyhadland@gmail.comThe name Mr. Mihuta may not be familiar, but for most of my life, I’ve known that name. There was a television show where Mr. Mihuta taught art projects, in various mediums, that I…

Theatre

Xanadu: The Musical

by HPR Contributor

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduGet ready to dive into a world full of demi-gods, mythological creatures, and plenty of disco balls when you see Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater’s exciting first show of its 72nd season:…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

Once a year, fans of beer in the FM area have access to what their heart desires... bragging rights. The Rare Beer Picnic grants beer aficionados the ability to taste whatever their heart desires from their favorite beer…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu Recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.- The United Nations…