Nightcrawler

Open Road Films

Rated R for violence, profanity and graphic images

Gyllenhaal Great As Freelancer In Need Of Grisly News Footage

Petty thief Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) was eking out a living selling stolen scrap metal to junkyards until the day he stumbled upon a legitimate line of work when he pulled over to assist a driver trapped in a fiery car crash. There, he was surprised to find ghoulish freelance journalists flocking to the scene with the hope of shooting graphic video footage to sell to network television stations.

He quietly observed them in action before asking a forthcoming reporter probing questions about what the job entailed. A quick learner, after listening intently, Lou visited a pawn shop to purchase a camcorder and police scanner, the only tools essential to enter the business, besides the car he already had.

The next thing you know, he’s roaming around the streets of Los Angeles, joining the cutthroat competition to be the first to arrive in the aftermath of the next gruesome murder or highway pileup. Understanding the TV news credo, “If it bleeds, it leads,” he starts picking which emergency calls to pursue based on their potential for providing the sort of visually-captivating pictures popular with viewers.

Upon meeting with a little early success, he soon hires a homeless dude (Rick Garcia) as his navigator. More importantly, he develops a mutually-beneficial relationship with Nina Romina (Rene Russo), veteran news director at Channel 6, the local station with the lowest ratings. Lou’s uncanny ability to get grisly shots conveniently coincides with Nina and KWLA’s desperate need to attract a wider audience.

Thus unfolds Nightcrawler, a combination character portrait/riveting thriller marking the noteworthy directorial debut of Dan Gilroy. Jake Gyllenhaal is better than ever here in the title role, eclipsing both his brilliant outing just last year in Prisoners as well as his Oscar-nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain.

As this film further unfolds, the plot thickens considerably when Lou opts to make news rather than merely cover it. For, the potential financial rewards become so tempting that he begins to orchestrate events for the sake of the almighty dollar. Worse, his benefactor Nina proves willing to look the other way in the face of mounting evidence that her star stringer might be crossing an ethical line.

A sobering cautionary tale suggesting that you reflect upon all the motivations of a news source before swallowing the veracity of a story, hook, line and sinker.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 117 minutes

 

 

Sex Ed

MarVista Entertainment

Unrated

Haley Joel Osment Sees Horny People In Titillating Teensploit

Eddie Cole (Haley Joel Osment) is one long-suffering virgin. The terminally-awkward nerd never got lucky in high school, despite performing in the jazz band, since he picked probably the least cool instrument to play, namely, the oboe. And the aspiring educator fared no better with females in college, ultimately graduating still desperate for deflowering.

Today, he lives in the Tampa area where he frequently finds himself forced to watch couples cavort amorously, like the kinky customers begging him to let them copulate in the bagel store where he works as a clerk. There’s no relief for the loser at lust at home either, where he catches his roommate (Jake Powell) in a compromising position with a cute conquest (Castille Landon).

At least Eddie’s job prospects improve when he’s offered a position at an inner-city junior high school. The only trouble is he’ll be teaching Sex Education, a subject he obviously knows nothing about. Worse, half the kids in his class prove to be pretty precocious in terms of the birds and bees, especially class clown Leon (Isaac White), a trash-talking troublemaker whose minister father (Chris Williams) has to be summoned to wash his son’s mouth out with soap.

The situation’s only saving grace rests in the fact that Eddie develops a crush from afar on Pilar (Lorenza Izzo), the elder sister of one of his students (Kevin Hernandez). The complication there, however, is that the prettyLatinaalready has a mucho macho buff beau in the very jealous Hector (Ray Santiago).

That is the pat premise of Sex Ed, a romantic comedy designed to keep you guessing whether Eddie will ever be able to summon up the gumption to tell Pilar his true feelings for her. Written by Bill Kennedy and directed by Isaac Feder, the film is basically a vehicle for all-grown Haley Joel Osment, the former child star famous for making “I see dead people” a cultural catchphrase.

In The Sixth Sense, he also played a character called Cole, albeit it’s his surname this go-round. Brace yourself to hear him use some surprisingly salty language in service of a production which would’ve warranted an R, had it been rated by the MPAA.

A pedestrian, raunchy romp just amusing enough to recommend, though nothing groundbreaking. The only thing this titillating teensploit is missing is Haley Joel Osment periodically whispering, “I see horny people!”

 

Very Good (2.5 stars)

Running time: 92 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening November 7, 2014

 

Big Hero 6 (PG for action, peril, crude humor and mature themes) Animated family comedy inspired by the Marvel Comics series about a 14-year-old inventor (Ryan Potter) who teams with his inflatable robot (Scott Adsit) and his close friends to solve a string of crimes. Voice cast includes Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans, Jr., Maya Rudolph and James Crowell.

 

Interstellar (PG-13 for intense action and brief profanity) Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller about an outer space expedition undertaken through a wormhole by scientists searching for a habitable planet in the wake of climate change that has left Earth devastated by drought and famine. Ensemble cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, David Oyelowo, Topher Grace, Bill Irwin and William Devane.

 

The Theory Of Everything (PG-13 for suggestive material and mature themes) Bittersweet biopic focused on the relationship of physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), the friend of his sister (Charlotte Hope) he met while they were students at Cambridge in the ’60s. With Emily Watson, Charlie Cox and Simon McBurney.

 

21 Years: Richard Linklater (Unrated) Reverential biopic chronicling the first 21 years in the career of indie filmmaker Richard Linklater.

 

The Better Angels (PG for mature themes and brief smoking) Abraham Lincoln (Braydon Denney) biopic about how a challenging Indiana childhood marked by traumas and tragedy helped shaped the future president for greatness. With Diane Kruger, Jason Clarke and Brit Marling.

 

Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain (Unrated) 30th anniversary retrospective revisiting the Union Carbide industrial accident in India which claimed over 10,000 lives in just a few hours. (In English and Hindi with subtitles)

 

Death Metal Angola (R for profanity) Musical documentary about the heavy metal scene in war-ravagedAngola, the richest country inAfrica in terms of natural resources.

 

Elsa & Fred (PG-13 for brief profanity) Shirley Maclaine and Christopher Plummer co-star in the title roles of this remake of the 2005 Argentine romantic comedy about a widower who gets a new lease on life when he falls in love with a free-spirited septuagenarian. Cast includes Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Noth, George Segal and James Brolin.

 

Jessabelle (PG-13 for terror and violence) Sarah Snook portrays the title character in this haunted house flick about a young woman who returns toLouisiana to recuperate in her family’s waterfront mansion after a car accident, only to come face-to-face with a demonic spirit that’s been awaiting her return. With Mark Webber, Joelle Carter and Amber Stevens.

 

A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (PG-13 for profanity and violence) Dark comedy about an estranged father (Robin Williams) and son (Joel McHale) who grudgingly share an eight-hour road trip to retrieve forgotten Christmas presents. Support cast includes Candice Bergen, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Clark Duke, Oliver Platt and Lauren Graham.

 

On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter (PG for crashes, peril and mild epithets) International motorcycle racing is the subject of this documentary inspired by another on the same sport released in 1971.

 

Open Windows (Unrated) Stalker thriller about a frustrated fan (Elijah Wood) who starts monitoring an actress’ (Sasha Grey) every move over the internet after she refuses to honor a dinner date won in a contest. With Neil Maskell, Nacho Vigalondo and Ivan Gonzalez. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

 

Pelican Dreams (Unrated) Ornithological documentary, directed by Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill), follows a wayward pelican from the Golden Gate Bridge to a San Francisco rehab facility.

 

Virunga (Unrated) Endangered species documentary chronicling conservationists’ efforts to save the last of the gorillas in the midst of a civil war over the Congo’s natural resources. (In English, French and Swahili with subtitles)

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