Monday, September 23, 2019

MOVIE REVIEWS: NIGHTCRAWLER

October 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Nightcrawler, say the critics, comes across as both a takedown of the sensationalistic, ratings-at-any-price TV news media and a compelling thriller. It’s getting terrific reviews, with the work of the writers, director, editor and stars receiving high praise. Several critics compare Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as an amoral freelance TV cameraman with those of Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Rafer Guzmán in Newsday describes the movie as "Taxi Driver meets Network" and remarks that if it "sometimes feels like a sledgehammer … it hits every nail dead-on." Gyllenhaal’s character, Lou, writes Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal "is as scary, in his smooth-talking way, as Robert DeNiro’s Travis Bickle was in Taxi Driver. But Mr. Gyllenhaal’s startling portrayal is far from the only distinction in this impeccably crafted feature film." Gyllenhaal has said that he lost 30 pounds for the role, and Peter Howell in the Toronto Star remarks, "He creates a figure so removed from common morality, it’s as if some of that lost poundage leaked out of his soul." Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times calls it "pulp with a purpose," adding that it’s a "melodrama grounded in a disturbing reality, an extreme scenario that is troubling because it cuts close to the bone." On the directorial debut of Dan Gilroy, Mick LaSalle writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "There are moments that are too macabre and outlandish, but Gilroy steers the movie just this side of farce, just this side of Chayefsky, and keeps it all within a realistic framework. At times watching, you might wonder how he’ll keep the story going, how he’ll top himself. But he does." On the other hand, A.O. Scott in the New York Times is unimpressed. Referring to Gyllenhaal’s character, he comments, "A creepy disposition does not an antihero make, and Nightcrawler never attains anywhere near the gravity or the impact of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Its message — that the news media feeds a morbid fascination with atrocity — is hardly implausible, but the target is more than a little shopworn, and the stance of queasy outrage feels secondhand, not to say a bit hypocritical." And Rex Reed, in the New York Observer, while remarking that "Gyllenhaal is a thrill to watch," nevertheless concludes that "Despite a worthy premise and a lot of solid work by a memorable cast, Nightcrawler does not hold up convincingly under close scrutiny."