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Friday, July 10, 2015

NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

Shallow, but fun. Dan Gilroy’s feral comedy is a sick, slick look at cutthroat capitalism in the local tv newsroom, as relentlessly pursued by Jake Gyllenhaal, a morally bankrupt, high-functioning Aspergers-tinged ambulance-chasing video reporter. The story runs out of gas & surprises, but you’ll stay to see the old analogue model of Godfather-as-CEO replaced by the new digital model: Techno-Nerd-Creep as CEO. Gilroy finds lots of noiry nighttime L.A. atmosphere, yet never shoves it picturesquely in your face a la Michael Mann. That, along with some elegantly designed, if not particularly exciting set pieces (car chases, shoot outs, restaurant confrontations), may be the best things in here. Good as he is, Gyllenhaal isn’t quite able to make us buy into his string of easy victories. Finding (even creating) the next bit of gory Nightly News footage would never stop big city news-desk jockeys from laughing off his boilerplate self-improvement gabble & sun-deprived pallor. (It's L.A., ya know.) But a game cast (Rene Russo has a good role as Gyllenhaal’s mentor/victim - Hurrah!) carries us over a lot of built-in implausibilities. If only everything weren’t foreshadowed to death. Still, nice watching someone let out their inner Billy Wilder cynicism, even if the final product lands closer to Brian De Palma.*

DOUBLE-BILL: *Speaking of Wilder, Gilroy obviously took a long hard look at ACE IN THE HOLE/’51 with Kirk Douglas’s amoral reporter. OR: For a De Palma bounce, try BLOW OUT/’81.

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