Review x 2 ~ “NIGHTCRAWLER” & “THE EQUALIZER”

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Jake Gyllenhaal plays “Lou Bloom”, a man clearly desperate not only in his quest for work as a crime ‘journalist’ in this quite creepy, psychological mayhem of a film, but also as someone so desperate to become a star of his own making in this crime contingent world, that he resorts to just about anything and everything to do so as he’s basically just an unemployed thief and an all around just plain weird dude.

Set on the streets of Los Angeles itself, which can be fun as I recognized almost every location and remember even driving by a few of them as they were filming, we get a really crazy, scary glimpse into the world that happens pretty much every day here, and scarily enough, we don’t even notice it anymore. But what probably got me the most of all of it, I honestly believe that some of what happens with Gyllenhaal’s character Lou actually really does go on. Just take a real look at the news sometimes, or what the paparazzi do here just to get a shot of someone and you too will step back a second and think twice about this movie.

This movie is all about taking the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles and make them seem unsafe. Film a car chase (albeit a really good one at that) that gets your blood pumping and your heart rate up, and make the storytelling interesting, absorbing, creepy, disturbing, and even nervously funny. That’s what I think Director Dan Gilroy pulls off here as for 95% percent of movie and I will admit I was pretty freaked out through most if it, I laughed, I cringed, and I sat numb and transfixed. Only small undeveloped parts of this movie,  like how they just accepted him in the inner circle of new commentators, a disregard for the L.A.P.D ever pulling over a excessively speeding motorist over and over again, how at one point in the middle the character did annoy me to the point of well..complete annoyance.. and an ending that might not have lived up to the movie as a whole, could keep me from calling this truly flawless. nightcrawler 1But those are minor points and some of them just my own feelings as that I know I wouldn’t let this person anywhere near the actual news casting people. ha!  Would I endorse this film as completely realistic? Probably not. I do watch the news, though definitely not everyday and it doesn’t seem fathomable that dead bodies with grisly images would actually be shown all the time like this on television, but again, we have seen it.  But no matter what, you can’t deny how fascinating or how original these proceedings are. Nightcrawler is one bitch of a ride. And sadly, I almost feel guilty for recommending it. But I will. 🙂

As the movie plays out you realize you really don’t know anything about Lou Bloom except for the fact that he becomes obsessed with filming crime scenes in order to pocket some cold hard cash. He uses a police monitor, finds out where crimes are committed, and captures the hideous crimes on video camera. He gets paid monster dollars for these trysts but eventually gets in over his head when finally at one scene, he gets there before the police. nightcrawler 2There’s an investigation on him, he almost gets charged for murder, but what Bloom might be seriously lacking in social skills, he is smarter than everyone. He starts to blackmail his newswoman, his co-workers, all the while he just slaps on his sunglasses, gives a steely face outward demeanor, and pretty much gives the middle finger to anyone who might get in his way. There is a weird Travis Bickle a la Taxi Driver feel to this character that Gyllenhaal really exudes well.

nightcrawler 3Now the rest of the cast of Nightcrawler is almost just as creepy and definitely as noteworthy. Their roles are equal parts nasty, mean-spirited, unethical, and cold. Bill Paxton as “Joe Loder” is as always, reliable playing a supporting role as a fellow rival to Bloom. He’s jealous, angry, and ultimately pays the price for being his crime scene, videotaping rival. Rene Russo “Nina Romina” (who happens to be married to the director in real life) looks great and is fantastic at playing the coy and somewhat frigid as she manages the news station where Bloom sells his videos. She wants ratings, wants respect, and doesn’t give a shit about what’s right and what’s wrong. Then we have Riz Ahmed as “Rick” Bloom’s sidekick/assistant and he’s startlingly effective. He may be poor and unwanted, but he still has a sense of decency and with a few un-choice words, while he goes down in a wave of flames.

All in all, this movie will stick with you for a while after as I saw it a week ago, and it most definitely has done so. Oh, and I haven’t watched the news since.  ha! 😀

Grade:  B-

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SECOND REVIEW – “THE EQUALIZER”

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NOTE: As this movie has been out for awhile, but I was gone and not able to see it till just this week..I did a double header of this and “Nightcrawler” (oh my bum hurt after so long in the seat..trust me!! :D) But it was well worth it.  Both movies had enough edge to them to keep me motivated to watch.

Firstly, I did not know nor would I have guessed that this movie was inspired by the classic TV series, The Equalizer as I don’t remember at all watching it as a kid, I was more a Dynasty child!!..ha!  The film here stars Denzel Washington as “Robert McCall”, a mild-mannered some what of a “mystery man” who spends his days working at a hardware megastore and his nights as an insomniac drinking tea and reading the classics at a local diner When a young girl from the diner “Teri” (Chloe Grace Moretz) finds herself in over her head with the Russian mob, Robert can’t ignore it. Instead, he steps outside of his quiet, controlled world to help her. But what starts out as an attempt to help the troubled teen soon turns into a battle against a crazy vicious pimp and his crime syndicate. equalizer 2

Despite his normal job and his simple life, it soon becomes very clear that McCall isn’t just an ordinary guy taking on an extraordinary situation ~ nor is he just another determined cop. He has a very specific skill set as well as the training that enables him to walk unarmed into a room full of bad guys and kill every last one of them (in shockingly brutal ways) in 30 seconds or less, using a variety of makeshift weapons. And he manages to do it all in the coolest, smoothest way possible. But the character also has his share of quirks ~ from his strange obsession with his stopwatch to an almost superhuman ability to case a room with his almost MacGyver-like tactics. And though his occasionally over-the-top behavior can border on laughable, it also makes him different, like the kind of character that you’d expect to find in the latest flood of superhero type movies. But this isn’t your basic PG-13 movie. It’s dark and gritty and sometimes shockingly, graphically violent, though, at the same time, it’s also undeniably entertaining with a great villain in Marton Csokas as “Teddy”. You know I love my villains when they are played well..and he does a great job here.
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Still, The Equalizer isn’t a fast-moving film. It builds slowly, a little to slowly at times, but taking its time to introduce the characters and to make sure that everyone in the audience knows what a good guy McCall is. It’s also much longer than it needs to be. But Washington carries it all in a way that seems effortless because there’s just something about him that makes even the film’s slow moments seem bearable.

Time and time again, Washington has proven himself to be tough but lovable & reliable if not also adaptable. And in The Equalizer, he gives his role both classic charm and ferocity, making it an extreme but enjoyable enough of a thriller.

Grade: C+

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REVIEW ~ LAGGIES (2014)

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There have been some very bad movies released this year and this doozie is definitely one of the worst.  I almost didn’t even want to write a review as I feel like I’m wasting as much of my time on it that they made me waste watching it and that was enough, so expect this to be very short and simple, to the point.

Keira Knightly in ANOTHER really awful performance, her 2nd of the year so far btw in a bad American accent again no less, is “Megan” an 20-something who is the sign-spinner (yes, you read that right..the person in front of a business who spins the sign for people to come in) for her father “Ed” (Jeff Garlin) accounting office and seems to be in the throes of a quarter-life crisis..yes really..if there is such a thing. She’s got a degree, lives with her boyfriend, “Anthony” (Mark Webber) who it weirdly seems as though she barely likes him and he seems to unquestionably just support her financially etc., without a problem and yet she just floats around aimlessly while all her friends like “Allison” (Elle Kemper) progress in front of her with their lives.  laggie 1

That is of course until she meets high-school student “Annika” (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her group of friends, “Misty” (Kaitlyn Dever), “Junior” (Daniel Zovatto), and “Patrick” (Dylan Arnold) and buys them beer and they become besties.. yep..they do. In fact, in order to ‘get away from it all’, Megan begins to hang out with this group of high-school students and proceeds to stay at Annika’s house until her divorced dad, “Craig” (Sam Rockwell) wonders, as all of us do, why is this woman staying in my house with my high-school aged child and saying they are friends like this is normal behaviour.. Let’s just say this movie is painful and not even Sam Rockwell can save it when he hooks up with Megan which of course unless you’re very impaired you know is going to happen from the moment Megan steps into their house.  Along with the absolute just inane – trying so hard to be quirky – plot of all this is the fact that Megan not only goes to a high-school party without any qualms or awkward feeling of anyone asking her WTF she is even doing there..she just fits right in..but wait for it…as yes..she goes to the prom too!!! At this point in the movie, I’m not sure how I had stayed so long without screaming or pulling my hair out in exasperation over how horrifically bad this movie is.. I guess because it was a screening and I always feel guilty if I leave early..and yes, thankfully I didn’t pay any money to see this farce, as then I would have been really PISSED!!!

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So to sum it up in case you haven’t guessed already, this is one bad movie. It’s kinda weird that a person in their 20’s would even want to hang out with high school kids..I don’t know anyone who ever did..and it’s not funny, there is no chemistry between any of the characters or any depth to any of them and it ends just as lamely as it started.

Grade: D-  (don’t waste your time or money)

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