On this episode, we review the 2014 thriller Nightcrawler, Directed by Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
The film follows enterprising psychopath Lou as he scouts the nocturnal underbelly of Los Angeles looking for opportunity. After being inspired to become a 'Stringer'; filming urban drama for local news stations, Lou's talent for exploiting tragedy garners him fame and fortune on the LA morning news circuit. But without empathy or conscience to temper his ambitions, he soon crosses the line between neutral observer and active participant.
We discuss the portrayal of psychopathy and how this personality type is perfectly suited to news media, where exploitation is the very currency of the industry. The character of Lou finds himself at home amongst carnage and calamity, and has no inhibitions about manipulating both people and situations to his own advantage.
We look further at the film's portrayal of the industry and the obvious references it makes to Los Angeles and Hollywood culture. By setting the scene at nighttime and focusing on local TV stations, the film reveals a darker side to 'Tinseltown', far from the bright lights and the silver screens, where has-beens and would-be's exploit every opportunity to get ahead and stay relevant.
We also touch on the capitalist mythology espoused by Lou as he ruthlessly manoeuvres his way into the industry, discarding those who stand in his way. The supporting character of Rick exemplifies the struggles of the empath in contending with the pathological nature of the economic system, where numbers trump integrity and narratives trump the truth.
Is 'Nightcrawler' a critique of Hollywood in general, and is it in fact a critique of the entire economic system? Does the psychopathic character of Lou tell us something profound about mass media? Be sure to check out our next episode, where we explore the concept of news stories and media narratives, looking at what Nightcrawler tells us about perception.
Topics discussed include: Los Angeles, KWLA-6, Jake Gyllenhall, Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Psychopath, Sociopath, Cluster-B, Narcissist, Accident, Emergency, Crime, Urban, Carjacking, Stringer, Filming, Thief, Capitalism, Opportunism, Underbelly, Local News, Car-Chase, Dodge Challenger, Police, Shootout, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Hollywood, Affluence, Carnage, American Dream, Americana, Inspiration, Exploitation, Blackmail, Ratings, Narratives, Weakness, Empath, Psychology, Sabotage, Music, Soundtracks, Ambience, Skid Row, News Anchors, Attractive Women, Television, Sensationalism, Blood, 5 Arguments for The Abolition of Television, American Psycho, Selling Yourself, Employment, Bullshit, Hard Work, Being Realistic, Selling Out, Murder, Profit, Darkness, Attention, Scandal, Controversy, Expose, Actors, Stars, Celebrities, Debasement, Current Events.