I sat down against the backdrop of a dimly lit room and made a list of things I wanted to write about in this installment of the blog. It was a slightly creepier environment than where I usually find myself while writing my blog posts, so do me a solid, and bear with my low-voice, conflict-character, badass personality I've got goin' on right now.
1) True Detective, 2) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, 3) Ant-Man, 4) Camp NaNoWriMo, and the list goes on...
But I settled on one and I'm pleased with my decision. Allow me to elaborate -
This movie shattered any preconceived expectations I had going into it and that's something that rarely ever happens in my movie-junkie of a world, which is why I knew I needed to share it with you. So let's do it. Any questions? Didn't think so. Let's get started.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays a character named Louis Bloom - a thief making just enough money to keep his head afloat. He is a genuinely smart guy, but one who doesn't necessarily see trouble as trouble. He views the world almost as a means to an end.
But it's not Gyllenhaal's character that makes the story great. It's the world he lives in. Bill Paxton, yet another underrated actor who deserves way more credit than he is usually given, plays a freelance videographer, filming crashes and crimes across the city. They listen to the police radio, wait for an incoming alert, then jump on it for footage. Usually the first one to the crime scene is the one who gets the money from news channels in the end. Here's a picture of Paxton if you don't know who this handsome gentlemen is:
And just like that, Bloom becomes an overnight freelance hit with one particular news organization and begins to make a name for himself in the industry. Without going into the detail of the story, his business sense allows him to overcome the fact that he is constantly being underestimated and shows the true personality of his character.
So why is this such a mind-blowing extravaganza, you ask?
Because of the idea behind the story. And that, my friends, is called sensationalism.
If you're like me, you can recognize that this face (above) is not the face of a gentle, kind-hearted human being. The dude has an eye for the criminal, the ugly, and the outright unfortunate. The freelance filming business is just like everything else - a business. And in order to be good at it, you must keep up with the times.
Watch 10 minutes of your local news and count how many stories have a negative or intense spin to them. What emotions do these stories invoke in you? Fear? Anger? Sympathy? Frustration? Guaranteed that if you're feeling it, it was discussed in a conference room somewhere behind the set of those two anchors, trying to find the best way of garnering some sort of catharsis in its viewers.
These emotions are what boost ratings. They make the news company money. And, whether you like it or not, money makes the world go round and round and round.
So back to Bloom:
It's one thing to start at the bottom and show talent. It's another thing to one-up yourself over and over again, which is what Bloom does over the course of the story. Filming a bloody man at a car crash is different than entering a triple homicide to get footage before the cops even show up. He has the ambition it takes to rise in the freelance film field and none of the guilt/conscience to feel bad about the people involved. Sociopathic, I would say, and one of the scariest kinds.
This is not a feel good movie, ladies and gents, not in the least bit, but it's a freakin' real one. It plays on an idea that we know is part of our media-rich world, but most of the time, we choose to ignore it. We absorb information about what is happening in the towns and cities around us, but think "thank God that's not me". We see an overstimulated production and fear-building story because the news knows that that will generate a response we can believe.
Sensationalism is most definitely real and, in my opinion, this fictional account of the freelance film world is as real a Hollywood representation can get to the real thing. You might be saying, "Come on, Donlon. You really think things are that bad in the journalism world that sensationalism dictates people's actions for money and an upward ascension in their career?" The answer is (it is Hollywood, but) "Yes! Yes! Yes! I believe it!"
Jake Gyllenhaal gets my vote for the best actor I've seen in a long time and I can't wait to see what Southpaw has in store July 24. You bet that I'll be doing some sort of review of that film once I've seen it.
If you haven't seen it, go get yourself a copy of Nightcrawler and watch your brains out. It's on Netflix, too, which is super convenient. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Rating: 9.5/10 - very close to perfection, but a few slow scenes dropped it down a sheer .5 points.
As of right now, I've written 38,459 words in Book 1 of the City of Shadow & Dust Series: The Edge of a New Beginning and I'm loving where the story is going! Keep a look out as we get closer to autumn for more R.T. Donlon endeavors!
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Both Walls and The Reaper Trials are available on Amazon, so go check them out if you haven't already!
The next blog post will be in two weeks - Friday, July 31! Until then, R.T. fans, peace out!