DVD Reviews

Nightcrawler
 
Nightcrawler is a gripping thriller. Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a dark and mysterious character and is searching for a job in Los Angeles. We will take any kind of work. When he stumbles across Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) filming a car accident for news networks he finds inspiration.
Bloom’s camera-work “journalism” pushes the boundaries of ethical practice. But that’s not a concern for Nina Romina (Rene Russo) – director of Los Angeles’ lowest ranked and rated news network.
Louis Bloom is instantly successful and when he and his partner, Rick (Riz Ahmed), stumble upon a crime scene in the making the consequences are both compelling and disturbing.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a powerful, dark and cynical performance. I found myself wondering if he had been miscast. Surely the Hollywood good boy couldn’t be excelling in a deeply shocking unethical role. 
The second half of the film tests the boundaries of ethical journalism and outright human morality. The audience will be shocked by the conclusion. It is a great piece of thriller cinema – one that will leave you thinking – that doesn’t actually happen, does it?
4/5
Margin Call

 Key people in an Investment Bank (seeming to mirror Lehman Brothers) are caught up in the chaos hours before the 2008 Global Financial Crash occurs. Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) exists the building with the words: ‘be careful.’ Anything I discuss further would be plot spoilers.

The film presents a terrific interpretation of what actually happened in the banking industry in the days before the economy collapsed. The all-star cast featuring – Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany and Zachary Quinto – deliver powerful and engaging performances. We share their pain, detest their opinion of “ordinary people” and re-live the dire consequences of mis-managed capitalism.
The film isn’t all about the numbers but it’s not without frequent (albeit striped down) banking jargon. If you have an interest in the 2008 crash this is a must view. It will leave you seeking more answers.
3.5/5
All Is Lost 

 

If you completely bypassed All Is Lost last year (like me) then you missed a masterpiece.
Intense doesn’t describe the half of the film – its excruciating. An unnamed sailor (Robert Redford) strikes disaster when his small yacht is damaged by a shipping container and then by horrendous weather.
J.C. Chandor’s tense disaster movie is almost completely silent. But it’s as far from Charlie Chaplain as you can get. The film won best score at the Golden Globes and was nominated for best sound editing at the Oscars. That tells you the power that the movie possesses in these areas.
Redford is sensational. Chandor strips back everything and I mean everything until all we are left with is a distraught and isolated Redford. I make no secret of my admiration for Robert Redford. He is a true movie legend. His performance is mesmerising and heart-breaking.
This is not a film built by cliches of a man’s journey from A to B. We know nothing of his past, we know nothing about why he is sailing in the Indian Ocean but it’s too gripping even to be asking why we don’t need to know this. This is a film that exists in the moment as an old man strives for survival. You will smile, wince, cry and… I couldn’t possibly give away the end. It has a sense of Clint Eastwood’s apparent acting finale in Gran Torino in that the film is all about Redford. We are pre-conditioned to think this is the Sundance Kid and/or Jay Gatsby stumbling on even harder times at the end of their life. That’s not a criticism – I could have watched for a further two hours just to see what happens next.
5/5
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