|Red car seems like kind of an eyegrabber.|
Hello all, welcome to a new month with the Tagline! Today I said I'd finally put down the horror for a few minutes, but that doesn't mean that I promised not to horrify you. As such, we will be looking straight into crazy land and talking about Nightcrawler today, a movie featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a nobody lowlife living in LA, stealing fencing and copper pipes to try and turn a buck, when he stumbles over a new means of generating income: taking photos and video of dying people at crime scenes and selling them to TV stations. That is the setup that leads us into this film, as much about the darker side of life as it is about the darker side of human impulse. Nightcrawler follows Lou as he uses his spooky wacko personality and singular drive to go from street level no one to slightly higher street level no one. After witnessing some guys (mostly Bill Paxton) filming a fiery car crash, Lou gets it into his head that he could make some serious scratch by doing the same thing, and so steals a bike and sells it so he can buy a handheld camera and start filming crime and accidents. Naturally this starts out kind of rough, because it's a rough job that requires you to be a heartless shithead, but eventually Lou starts to find his footing, and becomes singularly obsessed with obtaining success as a crime scene photographer, freelance of course. This isn't really a one man job though and so using all of his bullshit spinning powers Lou hires the desperate loser/near hobo Rick to be his navigator and extremely underpaid assistant on his nightly prowls for shocking happenings worthy of the news.
|The living embodiment of desperation.|
Now being a movie about a skeezball who videotapes dying people so he can sell that footage to local news execs who are trying to get their ratings up, the tone doesn't exactly start in the light, but I would say that it starts out less dark. While sort of unnerving and clearly untrustworthy, Lou doesn't seem especially malicious or dangerous, mostly because he isn't specifically interested in hurting people (not that he seems to mind doing so, he clearly has no compunction against hurting people who even sort of get in his way). You pick up on the very clear fact that this guy is a monster just waiting to become, but he's too poor to have any real influence and too careful to risk his freedom and goals for advancement by resorting to large scale crime. So instead he explores a host of slightly illegal to quasi-legal pursuits, that are unethical but not strictly speaking crimes. Is it illegal to film a person burning to death in their crashed car? No but it is certainly a fucked up thing to do, considering that you could be like... calling for help maybe instead. Its all just business to Lou though, and he takes business very seriously.
|Had a little Law & Order moment here.|
He finds a useful contact in Nina (Rene Russo), a news program producer who is trying to stay afloat at a station that is ranked at the bottom of its bracket. This kind of desperation tends to breed bad decision making, and certainly I would say that entering into any sort of working arrangement with Lou is a seriously bad choice, on account of the guy is clearly a fucking maniac. It's important to emphasize that too, because Jake Gyllenhaal really takes on this role to a terrifying degree. He looks like a total psycho, acts like one, and also just generally seems a lot older and greasier somehow, he manages this really unsettling effect that is both impressive and awful at the same time. Lou is not a character you like, but you can't help but admire the performance. I mean maybe YOU like him, I don't know that you're not a monster too I guess.
|This is the real guy right here.|
The movie itself lives up to the suspense label. Despite being about a guy shooting video for the most part, his willingness to cross just about any line and the danger of trying to beat cops to crime scenes meant that I felt tense throughout the entire movie, and also increasingly uncomfortable. I can imagine that some people will see this movie and really dislike it, because it has a morally ambiguous plot and ending, but I think it's important to consider what the movie has to say about society, and also about people in general. You have to recognize that there is some of this ugliness in all of us (not perhaps to the extent of Lou but you get it) and that under the right circumstances otherwise sane and decent people will do insane things to survive or try and protect their lifestyle and personal pursuits. I also took a moment to appreciate how funny it was that I've seen two movies in theaters in the past 2 weeks, and the one about the former hitman going on a killing spree was the one with the clear good guy, and NOT the morally ambiguous one.
That's all for today! Join me again later this week for I have no idea what. Something dumb chances are.