Sometimes you're just in the mood a different movie experience, something that takes you far from the familiar and comfortable. Different, of course, is different for different folks. For some, it could be a good rock n' roll comedy; for others, comedies about prison, kidnapping, clones, or life-size dolls. And everyone enjoys a documentary that takes you someplace you've never been, or tells you about an album you've never heard. Or it could be a hard-hitting, nocturnal drama about the seedy underbelly of TV news.
There's something for everyone in this collection of the best movies newly available for streaming this week.
Jake Gyllenhaal creates an astounding portrait of bizarre outcast Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler (2014). Gaunt and weird, he's completely intense, like a hypodermic needle; his eyes poke out and take aim, refusing to retract until his point is made. It's hard to imagine how such a being might have evolved, but he's completely fascinating. He begins as a scavenger, stealing and selling scrap metal, until he happens on a freelance cameraman (Bill Paxton) in search of gory footage for the morning TV news. Louis decides that this is the life for him, and he blunders his way into the job, forging a strange, power-struggle relationship with news producer Nina Romina (Rene Russo), and even taking on an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed). He becomes more successful as he becomes more and more personally involved with the stories he films.
Writer/Director Dan Gilroy (son of playwright Frank D. Gilroy and brother of Tony Gilroy) makes his debut with this, and it's immediate, dynamic, and nocturnal, without ever being overly concerned with social commentary. It's showbiz at its most cutthroat.
High Fidelity (Netflix)
High Fidelity (2000) is the ultimate "guy" movie, a blueprint for the way that guys of a certain age think and act. It's part of an unofficial trilogy--bookended by Grosse Pointe Blank and Hot Tub Time Machine--by actor/writer John Cusack and writer/director Steve Pink, about men who look to their pasts for clues to their present. Cusack, Pink, D.V. DeVincentis, and Scott Rosenberg adapted Nick Hornby's English novel, and Englishman Stephen Frears directed, but it was set squarely in Chicago and has an American sensibility.
Cusack plays Rob Gordon, a thirty-something who runs a worn-out record store with two misfit employees (Jack Black and Todd Louiso), regularly re-organizes his own record collection, and can't seem to commit to his girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle). So he takes a trip down memory lane and visits his "top five" former girlfriends to get some perspective.
The filmmakers allow for so many delightful moments of humor, anxiety, joy, and music that plot is almost an afterthought. But by the time the conclusion comes, we know that these unforgettable characters have been on a real journey.
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