So, Nightcrawler. My favorite film to have come out this year. I still cannot speak objectively about it. This film is a vicious, delightful, nimble satire of media, unpaid internships, the state of the job market, and Randian beliefs.
Ridiculously well-written and well-acted. Writer/director knew when to pull back and push forward in terms of what he showed on screen. The cast was awesome. Jake Gyllenhaal puts in one of the best performances ever. You know how I’ve complained before about stereotypical psychopathy in Hollywood? Jake Gyllenhaal bucks the trend with his character, Lou, and is scary as fuck. In turn, Rene Russo unhinges her own character, allowing Lou to increasingly pull her away from groundedness. Ted Chaough is here as the one weak voice of reason, and Riz Ahmed embodies what old people think of Millennials as an itinerant young person.
Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors this generation. I say this without sarcasm. Dude has understatedly put in great performance after great performance.
This is one film where the acting and writing really stand out, where no line feels written and dictated by some greater Aaron-Sorkin-god and no inhuman sounding piece of dialog interrupts suspension of disbelief. I was engaged and distracted enough by the humans on screen that my mind was never allowed to pondering the technical aspects of the film. I cannot recall much about the cinematography or editing.
Also, social media is invoked tastefully and minimally to acknowledge its role in the present distribution and proliferation of news without making the film feel like one that is easily dated. I find the deployment of social media in cinema to often be too obnoxious, jarring, and obsequious to the era, as if the writer/director is pleading, “Please, we mention Facebook and Youtube. We are thereby socially relevant.” I repeatedly cringed throughout Easy A, Frank, and Birdman as decent scenes were ruined by some character earnestly spouting about numbers of views or followers. (By the way, I feel fortunate that I do not have to hear this e-penis bragging in real life.)
In fact, despite the appearance of Twitter and cell phones, this film doesn’t feel like it belongs in any particular date. Los Angeles will always look the same, with gasoline stains everywhere and yellow-tinted residential buildings. Its streets will always be a showcase of vehicular diversity, with cargo vans, Escalades, Prius’s, rusting Datsuns, corvettes bumper-to-bumper in a particular 100-feet clog.
Indeed, I feel that little would be lost to audiences watching this film in 2050 or 1950. As long as Rip van Winkle is faintly aware of seedy, superficial Los Angeles culture, attention whores, and media sensationalism for the sake of ratings/views/clicks/zoinks, the film should be critiquing the familiar.