There are three films in the film fight for November…
First up, Nightcrawler is a stylish, dark satire about the shock culture prevalent in modern journalism, particularly the nightly news. Jake Gyllenhaal absolutely nails the lead performance as a psychotic, but fascinating, camera man who will chase down any story; it might be a career best. The pacing is excellent: always pushing forward without being relentless, leaving the viewer gripped to their seat as the story unfolds. It’s made clear that the protagonist will do anything to get ahead, but it’s quite something to see exactly what he does. Exceptionally strong. (See my Nightcrawler Twitter review).
As a fan of Christopher Nolan, it feels strange to say that Interstellar might be his weakest film. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just doesn’t live up to the high points he has elsewhere. The visuals are stunning, bringing clarity to any number of complex scenes and scenarios that involve astronomical phenomenon that are hard to comprehend. This bleeds over into the world-building which swiftly shows the end-of-days scenario playing out for humanity, and why the mission must go ahead. Despite the odd slow patch, the whole never feels like a three hour movie. All of that said, some of the dialogue is absolutely terrible, incredibly cringeworthy and painfully out of character speeches mar the otherwise good performances. Anne Hathaway’s speech in the middle is jarringly bad (due to the writing, not her performance). The central conceit in the plot (about love and family) doesn’t help much here either, turning a solid hard sci-fi film into an overly saccharine movie. Good, but flawed. (See my Interstellar Twitter review).
Finally, Snowpiercer is that rarest of things for a modern action film: clear. The linear set-up, of taking a train carriage by carriage, brings a clarity to the plot and action that is often missing in many movies. While the performances are solid (Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans in particular), it’s really the mix of different action sequences and the big, dark moment at the end that really make it all work. Mostly fun. (See my Snowpiercer Twitter review).
The winner is Nightcrawler: well-paced, looks great, and with a top-class performance. Film of the year material.