Friday, October 31, 2014

Nightcrawler Review

There were a lot of things that Nightcrawler had going for it that made me excited to see it. First of all, I'm a really big fan of the crime drama genre and have been since I was really little. I often find myself liking these types of movies even when no one else does. Second, I'm a pretty big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. Third, I am currently a journalism student and thus have done a lot of journalistic work. So I call this a crime drama, and it is, but if I'm being more specific this is a journalism thriller and I was excited to see where they went with it. And finally, the icing on the cake was the super high early reviews (currently it stands at a 8.4 on IMDb and 92% on RT). So yes, I saw this as soon as I could and I am glad to report that I was not disappointed one bit. In fact, this is yet another reason why I love this time of year as yet again I'm calling this one of the best movies of the year.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Nightcrawler as a pretty messed up man. We aren't told much of his background, but we see right off the bat that he is a very desperate man that will do anything to get work. Early on, he happens to be right there at the scene of a car crash when he sees these freelance crime journalists pull up, take video footage of the car crash, then talk about selling it to whichever news station will pay the most. This is the point where the light bulb goes on in his head as he realizes that he can do the same thing. So he buys a police radar and camera and gets to work. Pretty soon he finds so much success that he pushes himself to go bigger and better, which quickly leads him to go way overboard.

Like I said, I like Jake Gyllenhaal a lot. Early on he did October Sky and that was always the movie I knew him from growing up, but along the way he's done so many other excellent roles in movies such as Zodiac, Source Code, and last year's Prisoners. Despite all this, after looking closely at his whole filmography I can confidently say that I believe this is his best role yet. I have never seen him so crazy and so insane. He really gets lost in his character and it is just super impressive. All he cares about is finding work. Once he finds his niche, he just wants to get better and better. Normally this is a positive thing, but when you get to the point where you have no moral compass or no regard for the law, that definitely crosses the line. He's crazy. He's insane. He's a snake. He's rude. He's manipulative. He's genius. But for some weird reason, you find yourself rooting for him to succeed. At least I did for much of the movie. Pretty soon I was asking myself if I was crazy as well. If this guy is so bad, why am I cheering for him? That's why this movie is so brilliant. You become so invested in Gyllenhaal's character in a dark and twisted sort of way.

But enough about Gyllenhaal for now, the movie as a whole provides a whole lot of interesting themes. The first one surrounds journalism itself. Like I said earlier, I myself am currently studying journalism and thus I've gotten an inside look at what happens behind the scenes. The role of the journalist is to provide the community with the news that is happening. But honestly, there's a lot of news that happens everyday and it's impossible to report on every single story. In the case of broadcasting, you often have 30 minutes to tell all the news you can. And in that 30 minutes, you have an even shorter amount of time to snag your viewers. And while I want to say all journalists have perfect intentions, the honest truth is that it's a business. You need to provide stories that will get people's attention and cause them to actually watch your broadcast. And you need to compete with the other stations or else you're not going to succeed. It's a tough business, especially now that there are so many ways for the public to access news with internet and social media dominating the scene.

So thus the movie asks, how far will you go to be successful? In this not only do we have Gyllenhaal struggling to find work, but the news station itself starts struggling with the moral/legal dilemma of what to show when Gyllenhaal keeps bringing in footage that will certainly make their station the top station. Not only does Gyllenhaal cross the line, but the station itself starts to cross the line as the succumb to Gyllenhaal's trickery and manipulation. As I thought of this scenario that presented, I came to realize that this is not only an issue with broadcast journalism, but these principles in this movie can definitely apply to a very broad spectrum when it comes to the workplace and business in general. Yes, this may have been extreme, but dang did it provide for quite the thrill. Not only does the movie take several twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat, but the conflict of it all makes it even more intense because you really don't know who to root for. The news people and Gyllenhaal are definitely not doing the right thing, but the movie makes you invested in them and thus your mind is completely torn as you go on this high-paced thrill ride.

In the end, Nightcrawler is a very intense thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and this is led by Jake Gyllenhaal giving the performance of his career. I think it may be too soon to start saying that Gyllenhaal needs to be nominated for an Oscar since I haven't since many of the big contenders yet. But I will say this is definitely an Oscar-worthy performance. Gyllenhaal has set the bar so high that it's going to have to take some amazing performances for me to come to the opinion that there are five more deserving actors. But either way, Oscar or no Oscar, Gyllenhaal's performance is one of the best of the year so far. It's one that I'll probably remember for quite some time. Concurrently, Nightcrawler is also one of my favorite movies of the year so far. I'm going to have a really hard time coming up with my top 10 best movies of year list, but you can probably bet that you will see this make an appearance. My grade for Nightcrawler is a 9.5/10.

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