In Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a seedy young man who makes a name for himself filming crime scenes and selling them to a local Los Angeles news station which in turn uses it to draw larger and larger viewers to their screens. They come, of course, in droves, leading Lou to make more videos with more lurid crimes and eventually pushes him to manipulate the scenes.
That’s an interesting set up and one rife with social commentary. It is almost cliche to talk about the media-saturated world in which we live, and yet here we are. The standard news comment that "if it bleeds, it leads” has turned into “if it bleeds, it not only leads but will be filmed in high definition and shown over and over again in slow motion.” Then it will be blogged about, tweeted, and rehashed over and over again until more blood is spilled.
As a guy who tries to stay as far away from news and politics as possible, I see this concept slip into my pop-culture feeds more and more as well. It's not so much the blood (though my love for horror films ensures there is plenty of that), but there is this constant need of information. There aren’t just posters and trailers for upcoming films now, but teasers for the teaser posters and trailers that let you know when a new trailer might appear. Posts are written about the tiniest of details about every film and passed around on social media like it's the dawning of a new cinematic wave.
So yeah, I can dig a film that digs into our collective psyche and tries to tell an interesting story. Plus, it also stars Rene Russo and Bill Paxton, and the buzz has been really good. Sign me up for that and make it my Pick of the Week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Rosewater: Jon Stewart’s directorial debut about an Iranian journalist who was arrested and tortured in part for some things he said on Stewart’s The Daily Show. Stewart has proven he’s an intelligent and adept satirist who is capable of making profound political points while making us laugh at the same time. The movie is a straight drama but the reviews have been very positive. [Editor's note - The site is giving away two copies. See below to learn how to enter the contest.]
Don’t Look Now (Criterion Collection:) Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star in this psychological horror film set in Venice.
Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: A book I often read to my three-year-old daughter has been turned into a silly comedy starring Steve Carell. Usually I’d cringe at this sort of thing, but the previews actually look mildly entertaining.
Nurse Jackie: Season 6: I want to like this dramedy starring Edie Falco, but I’ve never been able to get past the first few episodes. It has its moments and I don’t want to say anything too negative about it, but it just didn’t do it for me. Still, I like Falco and I really should give it another shot.
Olive Kitteridge: Stars Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray. That’s all I really need to know.
Kill the Messenger: Based on a true story, Jeremy Renner stars as a journalist who learns of a connection between the '80s crack epidemic and the CIA.
Lilting: A drama about the unlikely friendship between an Englishman and a Cambodian woman. It stars Ben Whishaw whom I adore.
A Day in the Country (Criterion Collection): Criterion and Jean Renoir, two of my favorite things.