Sunday, January 25, 2015
"Nightcrawler" Thrilling Fable of the American Dream.
In my zeal to see the Oscar nominated films, I wasn’t in a hurry to watch, “Nightcrawler." From the trailer it appeared to be just another slick Hollywood thriller. But since thrillers are more fun on the big screen, I figured I’d better catch it before it was pulled from the theater, replaced by the recent Best Picture nominees.
“Nightcrawler,” is more than a thriller, it’s a fable about the American Dream.
Unable to find a job in this economy, Lou Bloom (award-winner Jake Gyllenhaal) is desperate to make a living. He is a wily night scavenger – stealing scrap metal or doing whatever he can to make money until he can find a way to get in the game. He tells a perspective employer that he works hard to get ahead, but he has to be in the game in order to win it. Like the American public, he has been sold the American Dream and will do anything to get it. He happens onto a profitable way to make a living, videotaping gruesome crime scenes for the local news. He learns from another news videographer, (nightcrawler) that “if it bleeds, it leads.”
An integral part of selling the American Dream are the images presented in the media. The viewers are the consumers buying the American Dream. Local news stations employ fear mongering to increase their ratings so they can sell more advertising, so corporations can sell more products to the consumer.
In, “Nightcrawler,” affluent people are the consumers that make the whole system work. The media manipulates their fears to get them to watch the programs. The best-selling images show urban crime creeping into the suburbs. The local news station buys and sells images of bloody carjackings and home invasions perpetrated by minorities.
But writer/director Dan Gilroy pushes the envelope even farther by presenting the moral quandary: How far would you go to get that money shot? When you get to the crime scene before the cops, do you get the graphic footage or do you help the victim? This is a metaphor for an important theme in politics today: capitalism vs. humanity.
The movie becomes even more frightening as we discover that Bloom will do absolutely anything to get the money shot. His homeless “intern” Rick, (Riz Ahmed) isn’t a person to him at all, but a means to make more money. He doesn't take care of his one employee, but puts him in the line of fire. Through Rick’s eyes we see and feel the danger as their red Challenger speeds to the next crime scene. Seen from his perspective inside the car, these are the most thrilling “chase scenes” I have ever experienced. My heart was in my throat through most of the movie. But what makes it scarier is that the female news editor (Rene Russo) has bought into this myth that we should do whatever it takes to make money. In this day and age, we reward sociopaths and accept them as players in our capitalistic society. Only it’s happening in broad daylight.
If there is any justice in Hollywood, Dan Gilroy will win a Best Screenplay nod for his brilliant script. Why wasn't, "Nightcrawler,"- one of the most well-reviewed, entertaining movies of the year - nominated for best picture? I’ll leave that to you to figure out. Writer/director Dan Gilroy put together a great team that believed in his vision. Together they created the movie they wanted to make without interference from financial backers. I call that inspiring.