Wild, Untamed

As pulse-pounding thrills go, my pulse has raced faster waiting for my baked beans to cook in the morning whilst desperate to ensure that the toast pops up 30 seconds before the beans are ready so that I can efficiently get through breakfast and hurl myself into the tense throb of commuters transferring their heaving carcasses from home to office. A low-grade plot with a facile social commentary. No I am not talking about my baked bean escapade, I am talking about Nightcrawler. As plots go, it makes the Flowerpot men look like Shakespeare. At least Bill and Ben had well-defined personalities. File under ‘well-acted rubbish’.

A five year old review from The Guardian comments section that has aged like a fine wine, a fine riposte as well to one of the many adverts that newspapers churn out and call film reviews. Somebody pumps out a film with an orgy of colours and ‘strong performances,’ everybody gives it 4/5 and says goodnight.

The film was self-impressed and with such a depressing outlook on people it’s hard to stomach, even the protagonist admits it; I hate people. Like many men he might just hate women though, considering how often the film humiliates the only one involved. The dinner scene of the movie reveals itself to be a conversation with a Reddit account; with that exact strain of online misogyny that is both smug and introverted. It plays an updated take on Network’s insistence that Diana was “television incarnate.” Pauline Kael in her review of that film wrote that “this empty girl was supposed to symbolise our dreams, moviegoers were [the] morons then.” Diana would climax to the thought of high ratings, here it’s slightly less thickly laid on but Nightcrawler offers something similar – a woman’s drive for success and using sex to win as a parallel to the sickness in the world, the corruption of the body as the ills of the city.

More than anything the film is a badly performed essay. Jake Gyllenhall gets on the soapbox for the director and lashes out at us with a million ideas; far more so than intended. Then the film takes the most conservative American position imaginable; instead of critiquing the structural inequality of corporate business it berates us for taking part in society.

How can people swallow some of the bullshit in here? This freak spewing out stats and spreadsheets, calling us idiots because we buy into the sensationalised culture when we should look away. Gilroy might not have noticed that we’ve been here before though when he said this:

“We were trying to portray Los Angeles as [having] a wild, untamed energy about it and a beauty to it [through] which this character was moving.”

Just like the Interpol song – “The Subway she is a porno,” I should be disgusted and turned on by the world. In Taxi Driver we were at least in on the joke that Travis was this freakish cowboy who thought only he could save the world from the way it was going. De Niro was a much more convincing freak too; and you could place his disillusion, he was lost in the post-Vietnam shit-storm. Here we have a more confused update on the Western; Jake Gyllenhall is the cowboy with things to clean up; the camera is the gun, Facts and Logic copied and pasted from Wikipedia entries are his shield against this new frontier of women in high ranking jobs. The world is abundant, full of open road to fear and to conquer, but in the end it’s a freak-out against what?

At least it had some good photography of roads.

Photos: Stills from Nightcrawler

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