Yes Jake Gyllenhaal does an excellent job of playing the sociopath thief turned morbid local TV nightcrawler Louis Bloom, but the movie also shows how things haven't changed as much as we think they have over the last two or three decades.
Not only does the movie highlight that people still watch and rely on an "old medium" (local TV news), it also shows that despite having the world at your fingertips on your phone or computer, you still need someone to go out there and get, or sometimes in Lou's case - make, the content.
You rarely see much of the modern technology we're accustomed to in the movie. Lou doesn't get the latest and greatest gadgets, and even at one point shuns them when offered. He doesn't need them, as he's found his calling. To be as good as he is, you have to lack what others have: a moral conscience.
The excellent retro 80's inspired soundtrack from James Newton Howard makes heavy use of distorted reverb guitar and synth, which continues to blur the lines between decades.
The story itself is one that borrows from stories we've seen. Louis Bloom is a sociopath similar to Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. While he knows what sounds good, and even what people want to hear, he has a hard time initially convincing people to do his bidding.
Nina(Rene Russo) is the cutthroat TV producer(ala Faye Dunaway's Diana Christensen), who herself is likely fighting for her own internal relevancy as she ages, as well as that of the TV station she runs. Her willingness to push boundaries and manipulate news to succeed handily parallels Louis' motivations. The two have more in common at the end of the film than differences, even if the romance between the two is a forced farce.
Overall the movie keeps things fresh enough and moves the story along without getting stale. While we've yet to see quite the levels of extremes on a regular basis that Nightcrawler presents, perhaps this stylized pseudo-retro-modern look at local TV news is really foreshadowing what's to come.
Excessive Scenes of Debauchery Highlight a Lack of Substance
While the goal of this film was apparently to highlight the negative aspects of capitalism, it relies on scene after scene of sex and drug use to propel the story forward. Like the shallow characters portrayed, the movie has trouble finding meaning or a message.
Many of the negative consequences of Belfort's actions are cast into a "funny" light, while at the same time detail is placed into the explicit sex scenes and the highlighting of drug use in practically every other scene. It's very hard to see the movie viewing infidelity or excessive drug use in a negative light.
If Scorcese was trying to make a statement, then the movie should have had a strong message. Some will say that the movie should not force feed a message to the viewer, but I still think Scorcese could have tried a bit harder, especially if this movie was suppose to have an anti-Wall Street message. Instead it seems a collection of stories you would hear about from some fratboy's crazy times in college, i.e. something to be idolized and reminisced on, rather than highlighting a dark period in someone's life.
The real-life Belfort got millions of dollars for his life story and 100 million dollars was invested in making this movie. That alone suggests that society has given this scumbag more attention and wealth than he deserves. Was Scorcese trying to showcase the ills of Wall Street or the ills of Hollywood directors idolizing scumbags through vague storytelling and shock factor?
While this film seems to set out to be kind of a life study / commentary on society, it seems to get rapped up in itself much like it's main character does. While I actually agree with the values & statements made, they aren't articulated very naturally. It almost sounds like it's lecturing the viewer, which would be OK if the film wasn't playing off of it being a life study / romantic comedy.
Overall the film as a "cute" vibe to it. The woman who plays Ming is easy on the eyes as well. It does however feel like a low-budget movie & some of the editing seems off. Still it passes as entertaining to watch even if you don't really come away with anything at the end.
This movie bored me from the overly long intro. None of the women in the video are exceptionally attractive and Mariel Hemmingways height and nose bother me quite a bit, though in some scenes she does look rather foxy.
Of course this isn't porno(sure, sure, just tell yourself that) or even porno lite. It's suppose to be a sex comedy that just utterly falls flat. Mike Binder really can't act/write or produce this movie into anything worthwhile or entertaining. He even has a character making a joke about Brunch. It seems Mike is trying to be a cross between Jerry Seinfield & Woody Allen, but he doesn't even have 1/100th the talent of those two aforementioned peoples.
The only reason I give it a three is because of some semi-hot woman on woman scenes that you could probably see on TV nowadays.