Tag Archives: Riz Ahmed

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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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Director: Mira Nair, Main Cast: Riz AhmedLiev SchreiberKiefer SutherlandKate HudsonNelsan Ellis

This is the story of Changez (Ahmed): a young Pakistani man with an American dream. We get to know him through flashbacks of his past while he’s interviewed by Bobby (Schreiber), an american journalist who lives in Pakistan and has dedicated years to know the country and its culture. All seems pretty straightforward: the Pakistani has repented and renounced the Western way of life and now teaches at the university in Lahore, the inquisitive but open minded American wants to hear his version. Well, life (and good fiction!) is much more complicated. Thrown into the mix we have the kidnapping of a American professor who works at Changez’s university, the unrest of the students being abused by the police and a CIA operation to save said professor. I like how the director intertwines the past storyline with the present one with a nice crescendo of tension in both, it moves the plot along in a very effecting way, keeping the viewer invested in the character.  Ahmed is a nice surprise, his performance is intense and convincing; good, honest work from the rest of the cast. This film is an interesting take on 9/11 and its consequences from an unusual point of view. Intriguing. —7/10

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