Review: ‘Nightcrawler’ Powered by Jake Gyllenhaal’s Spellbinding Performance

Jake Gyllenhaal is a versatile actor who’s traversed many genres, and that diversity continues with Nightcrawler, a perverse and prescient thriller that refuses pump the brakes from the get go.

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is unemployed, and though his sunken cheeked visage gives him a desperate and all too hungry look, our anti-hero is far from weak. Rather, he is laser focused on landing a stable and well paying job. America is the land of opportunity, and Lou believes putting one’s best foot forward, along with an unshakable work ethic, should place him on the right path.

A highway accident during the dead of night sets Lou on his path, as he meets Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), a freelance cameraman who sells violent nighttime footage (car accidents, robberies) to local news stations in need of juicy footage.

Armed with a camera and a police scanner, along with the assistance of a hapless, well meaning drifter (Riz Ahmed), Lou speeds through the Los Angeles streets, ready to document the latest “if it bleeds, it leads” news story.

Rene Russo (The Thomas Crown Affair) gives one of her best performances as Nina Romina, a news director sees potential in Lou and eagerly buys his captured footage. Desperate to keep her job, Nina takes her news coverage to grisly and tabloid driven lengths to increase her struggling station’s ratings.

In the clip below, Rene Russo explains why she didn’t change a word of dialogue for Nina (the movie is penned and directed by Russo’s husband, Dan Gilroy)

Lou’s quick ascent as a videographer may be commendable, but the steps he takes along the way is absolutely horrifying. Whether it’s staging a crime scene, manipulating Nina to suit his own needs, or placing his assistant in harm’s way, Lou’s sociopathic tendencies lead him to a dark, morally corrupt arena.

Gilroy and cinematographer Robert Elswit create a neon tinged, seedy, yet ultimately dreamlike City of Angels, wherein animalistic urges supplant any semblance of decency. Lou is envisioned by Gilroy as a coyote who haunts the local grounds, looking to feed on the available prey. Thanks to losing 20 pounds, Gyllenhaal perfectly captures Lou’s subtle ferocity.

In the following clip, Jake Gyllenhall about an aspect of the media he learned from doing Nightcrawler:

Movie fans may see traces of Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole or Sidney Lumet’s Network in Nightcrawler, and time will tell if the movie reaches their stratospheric heights. Even with these influences, the movie entirely stands on its own, giving viewers a nightmarish look at the insatiable media and mass consumption which creates people like Lou Bloom and Nina Romina.

A thriller which mixes film noir and pulp sensibilities, Nightcrawler thankfully doesn’t revel in the sheer audacity of its narrative. Rather, we are given an even-eyed yet seductive look at a man determined to succeed in the news business. Reporting is a bloody and dirty job and someone’s got to do it. Thankfully Lou, much to the detriment of his colleagues, is more than up to the task.

NIGHTCRAWLER (Open Road Films)
Running Time: 117 minutes.
MPAA rating: R

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Kevin Rahm.
Director/Writer: Dan Gilroy

Eddie Redmayne Inspired By Stephen Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything’

Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables, My Week with Marilyn) delivers a sublime performance as renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. It’s a performance that’s garnering Redmayne, who won a Tony in 2010 for his work in Redgreat notices (the movie comes out November 7).

Redmayne and co-star Felicity Jones, who plays Hawking’s strong willed wife, should be names that will be discussed when awards season comes around.

According to a Variety piece on RedmayneHawking described the movie as “broadly true” and even celebrated after the movie’s screening with the movie’s director (James Marsh) and scribe (Anthony McCarten).

“He has this amazing sense of humor,” said Redmayne, who first met Hawking five days before shooting started. “And an amazing sense of mischief and this sort of like glint in his eye.

During today’s press junket for The Theory of Everything, I asked Redmayne about his reaction to Hawking’s positive response about the film (a nurse reportedly “wiped a tear from Hawking’s eye” after the screening). Click on the audio below to hear Eddie Redmayne:

‘Star Wars: Galactic Defense’ Debuts On iOS & Android Devices

Star Wars: Galactic Defense is a free to play, tower defense title that features iconic characters from the iconic universe. The game is now available on the App Store for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, Google Play for Android devices, and the Amazon Appstore for Kindle Fire and Android devices.

Star Wars: Galactic Defense adds its own flare to the traditional tower defense genre and brings the excitement that was once limited to a galaxy far, far away, right to your fingertips,“ said Barry Dorf, DeNA vp of partnerships and alliances. “The game packs beloved characters, iconic locations, tactical gameplay, and heart-pounding battles into one exciting mobile experience.”

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Since i’m an iOS guy, I’ll be downloading the game to play on my iPad. I’m always cautious whenever the freemium model is used, so hopefully Star Wars: Galactic Defense offers a ton of gameplay without immediately necessary in-app purchases/premiums.

I’ll be playing the game over the next several games and posting my review on this site. But for now, check out the trailer and, if you have actually played or are planning to play the game, feel free to comment below!!

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Daniel Radcliffe Reflects On Rapping Skills & ‘Alphabet Aerobics’

Opening Friday in theaters, On Demand and iTunes, Horns centers on Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), a youth whose life is in disarray following the murder of his longtime girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). Though he consistently claims he didn’t kill his lover, horns start growing out of his head and he develops supernatural powers in the process. As he gradually morphs into a seemingly different being, Ig’s seeming innocence stands on shaky ground.

The movie is another intriguing and viscerally charged experience from director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors), and I’ll be posting more from today’s press conference this week.

Juno Temple, Daniel Radcliffe - 'Horns' Press Conference
Juno Temple, Daniel Radcliffe – ‘Horns’ Press Conference

Today’s post focuses on the rapping skills of Daniel Radcliffe, as seen from his performance of the Blackalicious track “Alphabet Aerobics” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

“I’m amazingly glad that I did it,” said Radcliffe. “I was like shaking with adrenaline for a couple of minutes afterwards. It was awesome.”

I asked Radcliffe if memorizing lines as an actor directly helped him hone his impressive rapping skills. Check out the audio below for his answer (co-star Juno Temple, who at the time of the press conference hadn’t seen the Tonight Show Starring JImmy Fallon clip, is also heard on the audio):

Trailer: Christopher Meloni Has “Beef” As Legal Butcher: “My Deli – My Rules!”

Michael Ian Black (Stella), Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad), and Jonathan Stern (Children’s Hospital) are the wise guys behind Beef, an improv comedy from Paramount Digital Entertainment that centers on the legal and social issues that plague Lou the Butcher’s (Christopher Meloni) neighborhood.

From the trailer, Lou appears to be the judge and jury (if he’s the executioner, at least he knows how to cut the meat) of all the problems surrounding his butcher shop.

Beef premieres November 11 (11 pm est) on VOD platforms in North America. Retailers include iTunes, Vudu, TargetTicket, Dish, DirecTV, and Cablevision. For iTunes TV store users, the season pass runs for $9.99 if you want the Standard Definition version. If you want a higher resolution view of Lou and his neighbors, it’s $14.99 for HD.

Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Michael Cera, Beth Dover, and Luke Cahill are among the guest stars for the Beef’s first season.

‘The Voice’s’ Mia Pfirrman Advances To Live Playoffs With ‘Human’ Performance

Tuesday night’s Knockout Rounds on The Voice featured a powerhouse match-up between Team Adam members Mia Pfirrman and Alessandra Castronovo. 

Pfirrman’s rendition of the Christina Perri song “Human” led to high praise from coach Adam Levine and her advancing to the Live Playoffs (Levine told Pfirrman that she has “ice water in her veins” after the performance).

I interviewed Pfirrman this morning, and the 19-year-old singer talked about the lessons she’s learned working with Adam Levine, her close friendship with fellow The Voice artist Sugar Joans, and why self-belief is an important part of her life.

First off, Adam Levine seems like the kind of coach who’s going to tell it like it is and not sugar coat thing. Has that been your experience being coached by Adam?

Absolutely. I think that’s why I picked him in the beginning actually because after all the coaches turned around for me in the Blind Audition, something that Adam said really won me over. He knew that there was a lot that I needed to work on. He was the one that wanted to work on them with me, which is really great.

Being a young artist, I need constructive criticism to guide me to where I need to be. And he’s definitely the person to do that.

THE VOICE -- "Knockout Rounds" Episode 711 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alessandra Castronovo, Mia Pfirrman -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
THE VOICE — “Knockout Rounds” Episode 711 — Pictured: (l-r) Alessandra Castronovo, Mia Pfirrman — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

During one of your early interviews, you talked about having stage fright. Through this experience, has that gone away?

Yeah. I’ve actually overcome stage fright since I’ve come on the show. Just being part of a show like this is enough of a confidence booster to really prove to (myself) that I have what it takes to have confidence and to not be scared. Just to be on stage and do what I love. This has been a really amazing experience to help me get over that stage fright.

A lot of people would think, “Oh that would make me more nervous to be on a show like this in front of millions of people.” That’s another big thanks to Adam for really proving to me that I can be confident in myself.

We only get to see edited coaching sessions and rehearsals during the show. How much work really goes into the performances behind the scenes?

I can’t even explain how much work goes into these performances. We have rehearsals and vocal lessons and weeks of weeks of training just for one song. It’s something I do wish everyone could see and experience with us (on) how hard we work on these songs. Especially at this point in the competition, it’s so important that we work as hard as we can to continue on with these live rounds coming up.

It’s a really fun experience, though it is time consuming – it’s definitely something to be patient with. I’m really proud to say I’m part of this season – it’s definitely the best so far. 

THE VOICE -- "Knockout Rounds" Episode 711 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alessandra Castronovo, Carson Daly, Mia Pfirrman -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
THE VOICE — “Knockout Rounds” Episode 711 — Pictured: (l-r) Alessandra Castronovo, Carson Daly, Mia Pfirrman — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

On being part of “The Voice” family, for you does that mean making lifelong friends past the show?

Oh absolutely. That’s pretty much the biggest part of it. We all are so close and we create these friendships that are so extremely rare and important to us. Doing what we love, and then having friends to be there with you and support and to tell you to keep fighting and going. I was thinking – is this even a competition?

I think it’s so amazing that The Voice does this. It makes it feel like less of a competition and just more of a family thing. Just us getting together and getting to do what we love.

Since you were raised in California, are you the resident tour guide among your colleagues? Living in California, it’s easy to take a lot of this environment for granted.

Yes, it’s really cool being the Cali girls. Me and Sugar Joans. She is my best friend on the show and since we’re both from California everybody is always asking us like, ‘You’re so lucky that you live here.’

That’s funny – because me and Sugar, we really don’t know how lucky we are to live here, and people are flying out to do these competitions from so far away. The other thing that makes me laugh so hard is when people say that they are so amazed by the mountains around here. I just never really noticed how beautiful they really are. People think it’s the most outrageous thing, and it’s so funny to me.

THE VOICE --  "Battle Rounds" Episode 709 -- Pictured: Mia Pfirrman -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 709 — Pictured: Mia Pfirrman — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

What is the most practical lesson you’ve learned from The Voice?

Just being yourself and not forgetting who you really are. I think a lot of young artists nowadays get on a show to become something they’re not so they can be successful. I know I’m still young but I’ve learned a lot (the past few) years . I think it’s super important to stick to your guns and hopefully that gets you somewhere. If that doesn’t, hopefully you have a back-up plan.

Having an older sister – she sings as well. She’s been struggling and fighting but never once has she done anything that she didn’t want to do so she can get a little bit of fame. It’s awesome to have that (quality).

That’s the most important part, is to just stay true to yourself and to always believe in yourself. If you have an attitude like that you can literally go anywhere. I know that sounds like a cliche or something you’d find on the internet with cute little quotes, but that’s so true. Eventually the right moment will come along for you.

Something  that a lot of people don’t know is I’ve been trying really hard to get out there and have been trying real hard to be a part of The Voice. Along the road, there have been plenty of “no’s” for me, and at this point I’ve been getting so many “yes’es”and it’s been such an amazing experience to finally be where I want to be.

Thank you so much for your time and good luck moving forward.

Awesome. Thank you!

Black Panther and Captain Marvel Added to Marvel’s Film Slate

 

Marvel fans received a ton of great news today, as several movies were announced that will run through 2019. The biggest casting news was Chadwick Boseman’s (42, Get On Up) singing as T’Challa the proud ruler of Wakanda and the hero behind the movie Black Panther. The movie is set for a November 3, 2017.

Black Panther’s debut in the Marvel Universe came in 1966, and during the years he’s also been a member of the Avengers. “I’m blessed to be a part of this Marvel Universe, to work with you both, and to make magic together,” said Boseman, who was flanked by Marvel stalwarts Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans at the event, which was held at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.

Along with the announcements of Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (July 2017), Thor: Ragnarok ( July 28, 2017 – Tom Hiddleston is also back as Loki), comes the news that an Avengers movie will be divided into two movies. The first installment comes out May 4, 2018 with the second slated for May 3, 2019.

Marvel Studios Fan Event

Personally, I’m just glad kick-ass Carol Danvers gets her own film with the release of Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018). And if you love introspective superheroes, Black Bolt and his devastating screams are on display November 2, 2018 with the release of Inhumans. Last but not least, Doctor Strange hits theaters November 4, 2016, and there was no confirmation at the event that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the titular character.

Marvel Studios Fan EventMarvel Studios Fan Event