NIGHTCRAWLER – Review by Susan Granger

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Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Dan Gilroy’s sinister, neo-noir crime thriller as sociopathic Louis Bloom, who prowls the streets of Los Angeles at night in his turbo-charged Dodge Challenger with a police scanner, doing accident and crime-reporting. He’s one of the many freelance video stringers, called “nightcrawlers.” Bloom routinely sells his footage to Nina (Rene Russo), a local graveyard-shift TV news director who’s desperately hungry for ratings; she tells him that viewers want to see “urban crime creeping into the suburbs.” Problem is: instead of remaining a passive bystander with a camera, Bloom brazenly begins to stage his own roadside carnage and re-arrange crime scenes – until he stumbles onto an apparent home invasion. Read on…

Scripted by Gilroy, who collaborated on “The Bourne Legacy” with his brother/director Tony Gilroy, it channels the kind of voyeurism that made “Rear Window” and “Blow-Up” popular. Making his directing debut, Dan Gilroy concocts a scathing media satire with its own inherent scary elements. At his side, cinematographer Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) adroitly captures the seedy, scary violence in the fabled City of Angels, culminating in its thrilling, tension-filled conclusion, punctuated by James Newton Howard’s pulsating musical score.

Exuding creepiness, wiry, wide-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal (“Prisoners,” “Enemy”) embodies delusionary Bloom, an outsider who is driven to achieve some kind of self-empowering identity. Adding to the veracity, there’s Riz Ahmed, as Bloom’s nervous apprentice, and Bill Paxton, as a veteran videographer who voices the newsroom adage, “If it bleeds, it leads…” And it’s great that Dan Gilroy wrote a meaty part for his wife, Rene Russo; they met and married after making “Freejack,” a 1992 sci-fi action movie.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nightcrawler” is a dark, cynical 7, filled with savage, scathing commentary about our media’s relentless exploitation of violence.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.