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Nightcrawler

“Nightcrawler is an impressive directorial debut from screenwriter Dan Gilroy that, true to its title, creeps under the viewer’s skin much like the predatory title character, who restlessly cruises through this modern-day media allegory like Travis Bickle’s long-lost, hyper-wired West Coast cousin.

“Lou Bloom is a young man on the make, an ambitious, mercenary margin-dweller who scrapes by as a petty criminal and listens to business self-help tapes in hopes of finally scoring big-time. When Lou discovers there’s a decent living in filming car accidents, fires and crime scenes for local television news, he immediately sees the chance he’s been chasing.

“Soon, Lou is trolling Los Angeles streets with a police scanner and a cheap digital camera, cutting deals with a desperate news producer named Nina and leading viewers on a Dante-like journey through a news culture where violence, gore and racially charged crime reporting have become the bread and circuses of an image- and anxiety-driven era.

“Nightcrawler, which Gilroy also wrote, shares a lineage with some great American films, including Network, and the signature works of Martin Scorsese, including Taxi Driver. Channeled by an almost unrecognizable Jake Gyllenhaal — here alarmingly gaunt, wild-eyed, rictus-grinning, his voice a high-pitched, reedy patter — Lou is the jittery, jaundiced avatar of the fatal collision of burgeoning technology, dying legacy media and a society in cultural and economic extremis.  Russo’s Nina Romina is neurotically aware of her own looming obsolescence and the need for her dowdy nighttime newscast to compete with the likes of TMZ.

“Nightcrawler’s most salient — and sobering — point isn’t that soldiers of misfortune such as Lou exist, but the degree to which mainstream media has jumped into bed with them, pandering to the public’s shameful appetites. The film ultimately turns its rancid gaze on the audience itself.”- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

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