Tag Archives: Bill Paxton

Nightcrawler

nighcrawler

Director: Dan Gilroy; Main Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill PaxtonRiz Ahmed;

Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) makes a living with capers, criss-crossing the line of legality, in a rather forlorn-looking Los Angeles. He is very single-minded about getting a stable, more lucrative job and, by chance, he stumbles upon the world of freelance cameramen, who hunt down shocking and gruesome accidents or crimes and then sell their footage to the local news channels. He starts small with a cheap camera and a police scanner, after getting a few tips by a pro, Joe (Paxton), and manages to get the attention of a news producer, Nina (Russo), of one of the local stations. Things are looking up for Louis, he makes more money and he hires a intern/assistant, Rick (Ahmed), to help him navigate the streets at night while chasing after police calls that sound promising. On paper, the story seems a straightforward American dream: underdog/down-on-luck guy finds a way to improve his lot using his skills and smarts. It turns out it’s far more complicated and layered and that’s what makes this debut film by Gilroy intriguing and thought-provoking. Right off the bat it’s clear that there’s something amiss with Louis, C3PO has better social skills and empathic reactions compared to him and, slowly but surely, the audience realises that he is indeed a sociopath. In his world people are just means to an end, to be used and discarded without any afterthought; sometimes they are even a nuisance since Louis has to convince them or charm them or threaten them to get what he wants. The nocturnal forays into the city hunting for crimes would already provide by themselves a grim view of modern life but combined with Louis’ unique personality make for a truly disturbing picture. I won’t say anymore to avoid spoilers but it’s a dark tale. The film really works because of the superb performance of Jake Gyllenhaal: well-rounded, nuanced and with a sapient use of body language, impressive! The supporting cast is solid, in particular Ahmed as the trusting and little naive assistant, perfect foil to the sociopathy of Louis. Kudos to Gilroy, as first-timer on the director’s chair, he has done an impressive job. I look forward to seeing what he does next. Gripping —7.5/10

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Oldies but goldies: Aliens (1986, extended version)

Director: James Cameron, Main Cast: Sigourney WeaverMichael BiehnCarrie HennLance HenriksenBill Paxton;

aliens

The extended version of this film is what Cameron really envisioned  for his chapter of Ripley’s story, in other words it is a director’s cut (duh!). We discover more details about her personal history and understand better her behaviour as events unfold. The story picks up where the first movie ended (see my review of Alien here) or at least in Ripley’s time frame. In real time 57 years have passed and there are terraforming engineers on the planet where the Nostromo’s crew landed and caught a bug (pun intended!). Anyway everything was going splendidly for those hundreds of families until the Company sent them looking for something unspecified, after Ripley’s debrief and dismissal. Lost contact with the colony, the Company is sending the big guns: colonial marines. They want also Ripley to go along as a consultant and she is kind of ambivalent (no kidding!), suffering from PTSD as a result of her previous close encounter. This time the damn cat stays at home though, less casualties this way (yeah, if only!), good thinking Ripley! So we are back to chasing monsters (plural this time, as the film’s title suggests) in dark corridors but with more appropriate weapons and training, as it turns out: it is not enough. Panic-inducing close-ups of closing sliding doors, flashlights in the dark and the good, old, anxiogenic motion detector are swell companions of a well-paced story, effective action scenes and a pretty great characterisation. The body count is still off the chart but, hey, with the cat around it would have been far worse. Bonus: anything that comes out of Hudson’s mouth (Bill Paxton) is gold and Michael Biehn’s character doesn’t die. Just brilliant —8.5/10

Buy it from Amazon:

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In case you like spoofs, parodies or plain logic, this is quite fun:

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Filed under Oldies but goldies, Seen at home