Nightcrawler is a dark and deviant crime drama thriller from Dan Gilroy that skewers news services with a compelling story about a sociopath, whose dead eye acumen and entrepreneurial spirit seem him accumulate more and more power within the local news scene in Los Angeles. By covering the graveyard shift and some of the most grisly crimes in affluent areas, our ambitious on-the-scene newsman gains traction with a local news network and manager.
Jake Gyllenhaal is a perfect match for Lou Bloom and it feels like writer-director Dan Gilroy wrote the part specifically for him. A similar alienation akin to Donnie Darko keeps us at arm's length from the character. The Los Angeles location, grisly nature of his job and partnership between Bloom and his intern echoEnd of Watch. While the desperate, diligent and determined spirit of his role as Detective Loki inPrisoners shines through here too. You could say Louis Bloom is a mix of all three with his slicked back hair and creepy-crawly personality contributing to a new skin for the titular role in Nightcrawler.
Nightcrawler is Gyllenhaal's movie, but he's supported by Rene Russo as local TV news veteran, Nina Romina, Riz Ahmed as his assistant Rick and Bill Paxton as his primary competition, Joe Loder. Russo grounds Bloom in reality, allowing him to fester like a slow-healing wound. Ahmed is unrecognisable and purposefully slight as Rick and Paxton is great at being "that guy".
"All right Norma, are you ready for your close-up?"
The anti-American Dream story creates tension by allowing Bloom to gather momentum unchecked and without a conscience. We admire his diligence, his systematic drive and his resourceful attitude... traits that are honoured in Western culture. However, our appreciation for his can-do approach dwindles as the master manipulator becomes more inmeshed in a news story that becomes more and more about him.
This is a fascinating character study with a smart Oscar-nominated script that keeps us hooked on its complex character, who while despicable, retains enough human qualities to keep us on the fence as things become increasingly alienating, exciting and extreme. The ethics behind news gathering and the integrity of getting ahead in life are examined as we're slowly immersed into the mind's eye of a sociopath.
It's a wild ride and Gilroy gives Nightcrawler a seedy low budget reality feeling, repeatedly breaking walls with Bloom operating a camera of his own within the film. It's a slippery crime drama thriller that's bold, entertaining and darkly comical as Lou concocts one play after another in his bid for local news network domination. We're shocked at the lengths he goes to, amused by his open hand negotiations and baffled by his by-the-book approach.
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THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Theory of Everything covers the complex relationship between famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, and his wife, Jane. Hawking contracted motor neuron disease while they were seeing each other in college and this beautifully, intelligent and intimate biographical romance drama entrenches itself in the domestic politics of their lives and the career successes and honours along the way.
Why you need to see it: Eddie Redmayne's Oscar is a good enough reason, in addition to an elegant British drama from James Marsh and an equally adept performance from Felicity Jones.
This action-packed supernatural horror thriller follows a group of friends who gather at a wedding, until the celebration is shattered by terrifying apocalyptic events forcing them to examine life, love and faith as they must choose between redemption and survival. The film stars Johnny Pacar, Alex PenaVega and Shaun Sipos and is directed by Donnie Darko and A Walk to Remember producer turned director, Casey La Scala.
Why you need to see it: If the idea of a found footage, disaster and religious end of the world movie jammed with special effects appeals to you, you should see The Remaining.
The SAFTA (South African Film and Television Awards) 2015 nominees were unveiled at a star-studded ceremony in Johannesburg last night... here's a list of the film category nominees. One major snub was that Zee Ntuli's film Hard to Get, arguably the best action movie to come out of South Africa, didn't garner a Best Feature Film or Best Director nomination. It wasn't to be for Leading Lady and Henk Pretorius either, who could just as easily been nominated in those categories too. Somehow Cold Harbour and City of Violence didn't get any nominations in a year dominated by crime drama thrillers.
In the acting categories, Brümilda van Rensburg deserved a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Leading Lady and it's strange that Israel Makoe was nominated for Hard to Get ahead of an equally impressive turn in iNumber Number. Perhaps we can put it down to the cinematography, which made him look towering and even more intimidating than usual. Spare a thought for the villains this year with Fana Mokoena, whose chemistry with Tony Kgoroge made for some great moments in Cold Harbour, Regardt van der Berg and his hulking presence in City of Violence and then Paka Zwedala's sinister role in Hard to Get.
In terms of script-writing, it's unfortunate that Etienne Fourie's imaginative and compelling Die Windpomp didn't get a nomination. Another surprise was that Warren Batchelor's hard-hitting, seedy yet entertaining documentary about Brett Kebble's death, 204: Getting Away with Murder, didn't get a nod in the Documentary category.
In terms of predictions ahead of the SAFTAs awards ceremony this year, Spling has added an asterisk to the nominees, who he believes will win their respective category. Four Corners was selected as our official entry for this year's Academy Awards and with 13 nominations, it's difficult to imagine it not scooping most of the awards. Faan se Trein is the dark horse and comes in with 12 nominations, which will make for some interesting competition in many of the same categories. iNumber Number has 6 nominations in most of the big categories, while Hard to Get picked up 6 nominations in technical and acting categories. The field of strong contenders at this year's SAFTAs is very promising for South African film-making in general.
Theory of Everything is a "star-crossed" romance drama and biopic about the relationship between famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, and his wife, Jane. This is a film from James Marsh, the Oscar-winning Man on Wire documentary-maker who also directed IRA thriller, Shadow Dancer. His latest film, Theory of Everything, put him in touch with the Academy Awards again after the film garnered 5 nominations, winning Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne's take on Stephen Hawking.
This is a beautifully crafted drama, taking authentic and emotive snapshots of Hawkings' journey adapted from Jane Hawking's book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. We're transported to Hawking's college years, where he and his professors are only starting to realise his genius as a physicist. This also happens to be the setting where he meets and falls in love with Jane, only to discover he has motor neuron disease.
Eddie Redmayne's award-winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking is a vocal, physical and emotional transformation. Redmayne is able to carry an emotionally resonant performance that is respectful, accurate, tender and peppered with humour. He's able to contort his body to represent the slow degeneration phase-by-phase, without losing the nuances of a fine-tuned, vulnerable and deeply human performance.
"I'll make love to you. Like you want me to. And I'll hold you tight. Baby all through the night."
He's counterbalanced by Felicity Jones, a young British actress with an incredibly bright future, whose strong performance also earned her a Best Actress nomination. She undertakes the role of Jane Hawking, playing a caring and stoic woman, who decides to marry Hawking after learning of his disease, only to truly discover the length and depth of her love for him. Jones is old beyond her years in Theory of Everything and turns in an equally complex and nuanced performance opposite Redmayne.
The young co-leads are supported by a solid ensemble in Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Charlie Cox. Lloyd is well cast as Brian, one of the lads and a loyal college friend. Thewlis is perfectly poised as British physicist and mentor, Dennis Sciama. Emily Watson has a short but sharp role and Charlie Cox brings heart and warmth to the counterpoint character of Jonathan Hellyer Jones.
James Marsh keeps us transfixed on our afflicted genius and the ebb-and-flow of his career from writing A Brief History of Time to his many honours, while turning our attention to his growing family and domestic woes. He uses the tension and ever-widening gap between Stephen and Jane Hawking to keep the drama taut, without ever making us feel sorry for them. The relationship is tested like any on-screen marriage facing an insurmountable obstacle, testament to its great subtlety.
Theory of Everything is a pensive and moving romance drama, but it's also a beautifully shot and stylish film, creating delicate and elemental moments. The production design, wardrobe and props take us on an historical tour of British life keeping in-line with the evolution of computer, medical and text-to-speech technology. The subtle make up deserves special mention, assisting two young actors with the aging process quite gracefully.
Theory of Everything isn't a tearjerker, which is what you'd expect from a film of this nature. Director James Marsh, his cast and film crew have created a fine, balanced and intelligent film with a delicate touch. They hint at story elements instead of spelling them out and exact between-the-lines intimacy in the life and times of Stephen and Jane Hawking. It's a truly special film, carried out with great restraint, authenticity and good humour.