Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Videophiled: Jake Gyllenhaal – ‘Nightcrawler’

NightcrawlerNightcrawler (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) earned an Oscar nomination for director Dan Gilroy’s screenplay, a wicked satire of the tabloid news television that chases sensationalistic stories for ratings (the cliché “if it bleeds, it leads” is the guiding philosophy). It should also have earned a nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal, whose Louis Bloom is a twisted Horatio Alger with the focus, drive, and heartless conniving of a sociopath. He’s a petty thief and hustler who fancies himself a self-made entrepreneur in search of a break and he finds his niche in the world of freelance video journalists, the guys who rush to crime scenes and accidents to capture the freshest, goriest, most intimate footage and sell it to the highest bidder on the local TV stations. He’s Weegee with a video camera and he’s a quick study, a master of marketing and negotiations and a ruthless competitor who isn’t above eliminating competitors and obstacles.

It takes place almost entirely at night and director of photography Robert Elswit (an Oscar winner for There Will Be Blood) carves out a marvelous neo-noir atmosphere of Los Angeles at night with his razor-sharp photography of the streets after dark, lit by pools of street lamps, sweeps of headlights, and the cold, harsh glare of Louis’ portable spotlight. To Louis the streets are just conduits to the next hot spot and locations in which to stage his next scoop. Night may be a shroud but Louis doesn’t hide in the shadows. He’s brazen enough to do it the open and part of the crispness of Gilroy’s direction is the exacting detail of Louis’ methods.

Critics have complained that its portrait of the sensationalistic news philosophy lacks depth but that really no more than the backdrop for the real story. Louis is a superbly written character and Gyllenhaal sells every dimension of him, from his unctuous surface manner to the dead eyes and cold calculation behind his blank smiles. It’s as precise as Louis’ dialogue, a practiced line of ingratiating small talk and self-help platitudes that apes the manner of the ambitious young man eager to show his potential. Underneath, he’s plotting how to get the next scoop and leverage it into a business opportunity. Crimes are merely opportunities and victims merely the raw material for his camera. He’s not above manipulating a crime scene for dramatic effect.

Blu-ray and DVD with commentary by director / writer Dan Gilroy with producer Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy (like the film, it’s a family affair) and the featurette “If It Bleeds, It Leads: Making Nightcrawler.” The Blu-ray also includes a bonus DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD copy of the film. Also on Digital HD and VOD.

More new releases on disc and digital formats at Cinephiled

Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Nightcrawler’

Jake Gyllenhaal

If ever we needed proof that a real go-getter with an upbeat and fully-developed philosophy of life can also be a raging sociopath, Louis Bloom supplies it. The main character of Nightcrawler admits he has been studying a lot on the Internet, and the way Jake Gyllenhaal inhabits the role leaves no doubt that Bloom has spent a great deal of energy learning how to act like normal people. With all that readiness, Bloom hits the ground running when he stumbles into a possible source of income: freelance video journalist.

In this case, that means slinking through the streets of L.A. at night, trying to get to crime scenes and car accidents before the police shut off the area. TV news pays for the grisly footage — if only Bloom and his “intern” (Riz Ahmed, from Four Lions) can get there before their rival jackal (Bill Paxton).

Continue reading at The Herald

Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Review: ‘Enemy’

Jake Gyllenhaal

Even before his life starts getting weird, Adam Bell is messed up. A schlumpy Toronto history professor who drones on about totalitarian societies, Adam walks with a crabbed, defeated gait; his lovemaking with girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent) is as perfunctory as his lecturing style. Maybe this explains why he comes down with a severe case of heebie-jeebies upon discovering his exact physical double in the form of a bit player in a minor movie. At least something is happening in Adam’s life. The actor’s name is Anthony Clair, he lives in town, and he’s a much more aggressive guy than Adam. They both have beards, and they are both played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

Enemy gives Gyllenhaal a dramatic workout, and he is up to the challenge.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: by Kathleen Murphy, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘End of Watch’ Is Worth Watching

Commandeering yet another police car to exploit dangerous days and ways in L.A.’s South Central badlands, David Ayer (Training Day) drives deep in End of Watch. Sadly, deep for Ayer is pretty shallow. What saves this cop show from its predictable tropes and clichés are terrific performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, who’ve got each other’s backs as actors and as “brothers” in law enforcement. The rhythms of their bone-deep affection, played out in banter and in brutal action scenes, keep End of Watch moving and save it from entirely bogging down in Hollywood-macho vignettes of good guys going up against trash-talkin’ ghetto dregs.

Michael Pena, Jake Gyllenhaal

Ayer’s a sucker for the stylistic fallacy spawned by Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity: the lazy notion (already old hat) that an unmanned camera, the mechanical eye, automatically ensures documentary reality and immediacy. So most of Watch‘s action is caught on patrol-car cams, cellphone cameras, lapel video recorders—a supremely irritating gimmick that batters the viewer with crazily dipping and bobbing camerawork. Messy and uncomposed doesn’t equal realism, but that approach is convenient cover for flat-out not knowing how to shape and move and give organic life to cinematic fictions.

Riding along with cops Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Peña), we’re often perched down under the dash to viddy the easy give-and-take between these very different comrades.Taylor’s an ex-Marine, clearly a striver in love and work. His shaved head and sculpted features contrast with his less driven Hispanic partner’s softer, darker face. Their talk—funny, raunchy, serious—ranges through love, sex, police work, family values, their cultural differences. Both are young, learning from each other about how a man lives honorably and survives on the job. Effortlessly, Gyllenhaal and Peña enact authentic friendship, the kind of camaraderie that looks casual but is cemented in stone.

Continue reading at MSN Movies