Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Coherence (2013)

Coherence (James Ward Byrkit, 2013)

A dinner party is being held, and eight friends of the young professional type gather for a presumably nice evening of food & drink and conversation. But that night something out of the ordinary -and from outer space- will appear to disturb the party: the passing of a comet in the proximity of Earth. And during the time of the passing, some unexpected things will happen to the very structure of space-time. At first in a discreet unnoticeable way, more visibly later.

So at some point at dinner, and even before it, you'll have mobile screens cracking, lights going out or wifi going down -which leads to sudden incomunication and not little alarm for these (sub)urban individuals of the 2010s. First thing they ask themselves: are these disturbances somehow related to the passing of the comet? Unease increases as they go through the evening. During their meetup, they talk over their drinks and dishes, and we learn of their lives, their past relationships, their vital goals or little frustrations, and we can start to figure out what's their psychological makeup, or how they are going to behave -each of them- in the face of this approaching disruption of the universe.

And what is happening to the houses nearby? Are they through the same thing, the same aforementioned weird events, lights going out, wifi going down? Those taking place over there as well? Some of the friends decide to venture outside and try to find out, and they end up by doing a disturbing discovery: the other houses around are inhibited by people who look exactly like them. People who are propably them! There appears to be, by their place, some sort of an unlimited wheel of houses like their own, containing the same lot...of themselves! And the film turns into some sort of quantum version of Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel. 

A wheel of universes 

They will reach a conclusion. The comet has produced some kind of damage or disturbance in the fabric of the universe. How could that be? Wait, why could not that be? Let's not forget after all that the Universe at work is in itself deeply weird, as quantum mechanics has revealed to us and still reveals constantly. Ours is a world, which is in a way nonsensical at first sight, and even the mere existence of any given being is quite unbelievable as it is extremely unlikely, if you think of it. Why is there something instead of nothing? is quite a (first) question. And yes, particles only come into existence when observed, says quantum physics. And one of possible states emerges just when the system is observed. So why couldn't it be possible that alternative universes exist, like those defined by Hugh Everett III?

Why could there not be un unexpected event -the passing of a comet or anything of the sort- that suddenly alters the universe, so that it will reveal hidden (so far) aspects of its nature? The famous Schrödinger cat thought experiment had been thrown in during the dinner as a key idea to understand what might be happening. To try to explain this unexpected wheel of parallel universes: of parallel houses each containing the full identical lot of them.  So here we are, deep into the evening-night, this initially nice gathering disrupted, a menace of unconceivable nature pending over the house. The Everett universes stressing out the (sub)urban friends, A science-fiction scenario set up for good old human nature to display. How are these characters going to react to the quantum challenge?

Going for it 

Sometimes (or yet more often than sometimes) we feel miserable in our lifes, and we start fantasizing about the idea that, had we done things in a slightly different manner, the outcome would have been hugely different. Hapiness and satisfaction, which we sense so far from us in our actual circumstance, would be right here making our ordinary reality. What if one of those happy parallel worlds is inhabited by another self who is living a fullfilled life of harmony? And so without having neither more talents o more intelligence than we have, only having enjoyed more luck or (slightly) better decision making? If only we could enter that parallel world! We could so easily reach what we deserve! What are we to do in order to get it? Could we even get to the point of, say, killing?

Tonight's gathering is at Mike's (Nicholas Brendon); two of the friends attending the dinner are Emily (Emily Baldoni) and Kevin (Maurey Sterling), who are now a couple. Another of the guests is Kevin's ex, Laurie (Lauren Maher), to the annoyance of Emily. Let's put the lens on Emily. She appears to be rather insecure about her life outlook and the choices she made that, through the years, built up this life she now has. Probably she feels that what she has achieved is under her true potencial. And she probably has lost herself sometime into fantasies of parallel worlds. Out of her dialogues we can guess a bit of what's inside her mind. At some point she will make a decision: she truly deserves another existence, a different outcome. Now, happily provided by an unnerving cosmical disruption, she has a chance to alter. And (even to the point of killing?) she will go for it.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

World Order: Singularity

In the 1980s, if you wanted creativity and innovation in what's generically (and inaccurately) labeled as "pop music", it was probably the UK you were to find that. But I bet today you would have to look somewhere else.

Like Japan, for example, an astonishing country in so many areas. Check out Japanese band World Order and their spectacular world wide street choreographies. It is among the most clever and creative things I have seen in recent years.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

On Chesil Beach, the movie

“This is how the entire course of a life can be changed: by doing nothing.”  

“It's shaming sometimes, how the body will not, or cannot, lie about emotions. Who, for decorum's sake, has ever slowed his heart, or muted a blush?” 

“Thinking of her friends, she felt the peculiar unshared flavour of her own existence: she was alone.” 

“This was still the era - it would end later in that famous decade - when to be young was a social encumbrance, a mark of irrelevance, a faintly embarrassing condition for which marriage was the beginning of a cure.” 

The movie version of On Chesil Beach is scheduled to be released on June, 2018 in the UK. (In Spain I don't know if it will be released at all). Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting will be played by Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan (who will feature in another McEwan adaptation after 2007's Atonement). 

So far only critics and the like have seen the movie, giving it a "fresh" 63% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Not too bad. Probably watchable.

Movie Review (The Guardian)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Dolores O'Riordan


From Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? (1993)

Friday, 29 December 2017

Ian McEwan: Nutshell (2016)

Nutshell is a narration made from the point of view of a... foetus. Yes, a still unborn baby, a child in waiting. At the moment the tale starts off, this shakespearian foetus ("I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space") is just a few weeks away from leaving his mother's womb, a few weeks away from finally making it into the (outside) world. Ian McEwan's new novel is a foetus' monologue, but as we soon discover, it is also a crime narration: an adulterous woman and her lover plan to murder her husband. The woman is no other than the foetus-narrator's mother. And the lover is, well, his father's brother. This is a absolutely awesome mise en scène, even if it is not really the first time we encounter a foetus-narrator in literature. 

We realize, as the monologue progresses, that the unborn child's intelligence and verbal capacity is similar to, say, that of a young college guy, and an engagé one at that. He has a bit of a social conscience and philosophical leanings. With the addition of a layer of sophistication that our (very) young narrator has obtained from his mother's penchant for Radio 4 as well as cultural postcasts of all topics, which he somehow manages to listen to through the placenta. (He has even become some sort of wine connoisseur, thanks to the respectable variety of liquors his mother drinks and which get to him). Along with the action, the not-yet-born baby keeps on learning and so he changes and develops his psychology. Of course his extreme cleverness and sophistification is a literary fantasy license by McEwan, not unlike that of Gregor Samsa transforming himself into a monstrous insect: a sole giant supernatural element ingrained into a realistic story, or just a deliberately comic element.

Never mind. The narration flows wonderfully in any case, like nearly all of McEwans' works, no matter the register. It is ironic, and it is dead serious. It is hamletian: the foetus feels itself paralysed by the doubt of either beeing or not beeing. Not beeing means considering the possibility of erasing himself from existence (an existence that might be so disturbing) by comitting suicide hanging himself with the umbilical cord; the alternative, that is opting for beeing, is managing to finally be born and set out to act in the outside world: perhaps avenging his father's murder with an adult's hands: his future hands. The foetus' life is a full life within a very peculiar and strange world, the world we all live in inside our mother's placenta: only this one lasts nine months and not nine decades, as is the case with the existence coming right after birth. But fetal life is a life in full, one of its own all the same.

He anticipates his "death" to this uterine life, which means entering the utter world which is the physical world of born people, our world. He vindicates to be let in to have his chance. His chance to live the bunch of decades he's entitled to, to eventually manage to make it all the way to the 22nd century, perhaps beeing at that point, in that distant future, a fragile and thin (if quite in decent form) old man in his early 80s, by 2100. This is a awesome idea: the phoetus'birth is his death as a phoetus and so it is the end of this fetal nine-month life, it implies his entering into a sort of after life which is the birth into our world. (Of course, an inmediate idea springs out of this : Is there another after life after the adult's life?)

The (outside world) is a exhausting riddle to the soon-to-be-born narrator. His mother is a cold blooded killer who tries to escape the unbearable sense of guilt through self explanatory moral narratives, but she is also a riddle, as are his changing feelings towards her. She is beautiful and seductive and devastating, but also she is his sole shelter and protection. His uncle, on the contrary, is not that much of a riddle: rather a primary egotistic materialistic being whom he despises. Even without having been born yet, our protagonist has already had the chance to know about life's pains, about its maddening complexity, the lies, the secrecies, the betrayals. The moral mess which is the actual world. And yet he wants to fill his place in it, a world of things, and thoughts and actions, a most exciting place for a strong conscience, provided this is aided by the ordinary physical tools we all have and take for granted.

He yearns for the possesion of his due pair of hands and his pair of legs, the possibility to listen to his favourite music simply of his own will (not having to wait for his mother to, say, turn on a CD player), or drinking wine (if possible all kinds and varieties, as he loves it) by holding a cup with his own hand, or climbing mountains by himself; or whatever he wishes to do. So finally after a due cycle of existencial doubts (in him quite advanced in time), even more dramatic in his case as evil and murder have been involved, his decision is clear: he wishes to be helped into the sunlight, to show the head, to look directely at her mother's face. To unreservedly embrace beeing, with all its pleasures and pains, taking control of his existence. As it was his choice, his will be a true birth.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Train to Busan (2016)

South Korea, today. A workaholic and selfish father takes her little daughter to Busan, after she has begged him to, in order to reunite her with her mother. They intend to get there by train. Of course fully ignoring the (usual) Zombie Apocalypse that will take place, this time (and movie) inside that train.

What is a zombie, by the way? Well, the notion of it dates back to several centuries ago, and sure its symbolic potential is not a small one. Anthropologist, artists, even philosophers have used it in their works. But it has been mainly through movies that it has become hugely popular, in particular since Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead. The Zombie concept, as it has been constructed by movies, is one to think about. Suppose you lose a loved one to Death: that is painful, devastating enough. Suppose now that the loved one you lose is not only lost, but turned into a monstrous entity who wants to destroy you. Well, that is beyond painful. It might be unbearable. (I have always viewed that as a symbol for some lost friendships: "dead ones"who besides turn against you).

Sure, the South Korean Train to Busan (Yeon Sang-ho, 2016) is another movie for the succesful Zombie genre. But it is much more than that. It is probably one of the most clever and humane of all Zombie movies.  You will be frightened and carried away by the fast-paced action. But you may cry as well.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Amy McDonald: Dream On

Dream On, first single from Under Stars (2017), latest album by my favorite Scottish female singer

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Arrival (2016)

Here's a new version of the Contact topic. That is, Earth people's contact with an intelligent and technologically advanced Alien civilization. However Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016) is not of the Independence Day type, but rather of the clever Contact (R Zemeckis, 1997) type. In the 1997 movie starring Jodie Foster (and based on an absorbing 1985 Carl Sagan novel) it was Science and Technology that were at the center of the stage, even if sharing prominence with some metaphysical implications. Scientist Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), after receiving a signal from Vega, manages to travel there making use of alien technology, even if her story has later to face general disbelief. And it will be a life-changing deeply emotional event she will experience over there, in outer space, on the surface of a Vega Planet (in some sort of Paradise beach, near a deepest blue sea), an spiritual experience, not unlike that of Dave Bowman in 2001, A Space Odissey.

But it was physics, astronomy and engineering that Ellie Arroway used as ways to her transfiguring voyage. In Arrival, it is not Physics leading the way, but another science is, one often neglected in this kind of movies: linguistics/philology. So the protagonist here, that is, the scientist mainly in charge and (intelectually) kicking ass does not come from a "hard" science, but from a "soft" humanistic discipline: Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an expert on everything related to human languages in all their variety and complexity.

Communicating with advanced aliens: a cultural challenge  

Yes. Language. Because, suppose the aliens finally come. Suppose they have an amazing technology, and a (way deeper than ours) knowledge of natural laws, and how the universe works. Well, how do we learn from them? How do we manage to communicate? Linguistics/Philology reigns in Arrival as the main science or discipline.

So aliens arrive, then. It is Arrival Day. And they hang up there amidst the clouds, in strangely shaped spaceships. But unlike Independence Day, they do not just set out to destroy human cities straight away and for the sake of it, they just happen to hang up there, apparently waiting, as if not being sure what to do next once they have made it to Earth, and finally found out there is an intelligent species over here.

What's next? Well now they (and we) have to try to establish some sort of communication. But how do you communicate with beings that do not share anything with you, no psychological or emotional traits, only the knowledge of physical laws? Sure there should be a common ground, as after all we are all biological creatures from the same universe, with the same physical and biological laws underlying us. But the abyss between us must be huge all the same.

The humanities, also within the equation

I remember this book by Evry Schatzman, The Children of Urania which was about technologically Advanced Alien Civilizations, about their chance to exist, about the (scientific) conditions for their existence, all the theoretical frame for such existence, developed once again: the Kardashev types of civilizations, the Fermi question (how come they still have not visited us if there are probably so many of them?), the impossibility for faster than light travel, and so on and so forth.

So the book went through the usual exposition of the conditions that make an (alien) civilization likely: the right size of the star, the right size of the planet, the right distance, the necessity for liquid water on the surface, or for an oxygen atmosphere...the full list of astronomical, physical, chemical demands. But there was something in The Children of Urania which I had not found in other similar books, and which was for sure food for thought. Mutations of culture as doors into science and technological development. A cultural change as a key condition for the advent of science and technology, a change or a mutation that might not have happened on Earth, that might indeed be very rare, and that... might explain our astronomical solitude.

Take human civilization(s) some 1000 years ago. What kind of civilization was it back then? Let's take a look, for instance, at West/Latin Europe. Could we consider it an advanced Civilization? What would aliens have thought of it had they arrived on Earth around 1000 AD to pay a visit and check how things were going on here in terms of intelligence and technical progress? Well, for sure, back then European civilization was an "advanced" one, in some sense. After all, it was quite a rich, sophisticated one. Philosophy, theology, architecture, literature, poetry, politics, art...were all developing at a good level. But sure Medieval European Civilization (or those of the rest of the world for that matter) were not scientific-technological. Not in the sense today we understand as such. Sophisticated they were, highly conceptual, but with a very limited knowledge of the real (material) nature of the Universe. 

Well, what happened half millenia later? In the early 16th century, the so called scientific revolution took place. The modern scientific method was established and a growing body of positive knowledge of the natural world started to build-up. Around 1600, we abandoned finally the speculative laberynth that all past civilizations underwent, and managed to enter at last a solid terrain of positive knowledge. What was the explanation to this mutation? was it the emergence of capitalism? Protestant culture and ethics? The enormous building-up of classic knowledge due to the invention of printing? It was in any case a cultural mutation that might not have happened. How can we be so sure that that mutation always takes place in all alien civilizations? Perhaps we are alone, and there is no other technological civilization in the whole universe, the reason being not such things as, say, the peculiar size of our moon and the tidal force, but the astonishing and mysterious cultural change that took place in the 16 century and which led to the so called scientific revolution.

See? There is more to the Contact story than hard experimental science. Humanities and soft social sciences might be as important. The mutation of Civilization into a scientific technological one had a "humanistic cultural" basis. It might not have happened. Language, as the basis of the so-called humanities is a fundamental tool and one essential discipline in our process of contacting. Let's stop forgetting it or minimizing it.

Aliens from an advanced civilization must be "intelligent" which means not only rational, but in possession of a good set of neurons (or neuron-like cells) making them not only logical and mathematical but spiritual, thus capable of creating deep spiritual worlds of symbolism and meaning. Will we contact their spiritual world with our spiritual world?

A "feminine" aproach

Arrival highlights the importance of culture in the Contact topic. Not just physical science, but cultural approaches and transformations. Again it is a woman who leads the way (as in 1997 Contact), but this time with a "social science" as an instrument. Women are probably better at social and humanistic disciplines, so its fair enough that a woman leads the show here. Women are very good at language and communication (whereas men are probably, even if this is probably not too PC to say, better at physics). Arrival is a movie on the importance of language and communication between unbelivably distant beings, of emphasizing the necessity for building up bridges. Of solving the tricky riddle of how to connect minds and intelligences, linking psychological (spiritual) inner worlds.

Arrival is a feminine (not a "feminist") approach to the Contact topic, this being a frequent -sometimes even tiresome- topic within the SF frame. Language, and not physics is the star here. Arrival is a clever movie, with a good script, a good development, well-drawn psychologies and fine performances. But I would highlight, as its most interesting trait, its vindication of a humanistic discipline as a fundamental key to a possible future Contact. Something which reminds us the overall importance of the rest of the (so called) humanities in our (likely) future contacts with aliens, with advanced technological alien civilizations. Because they might well be a product of cultural mutations, of cultural intangible forces (not only biological ones), much as we ourselves are. Theirs being a spiritual vasteness as deep as ours, for which we will need approaches well beyond the strict reign of matter, once we have aknowledged, of course, that we both share the same rational scientific frame.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

WestWorld / Season 1 (2016)

"They say that great beasts once roamed this world. Big as mountains. Yet all that's left of them is bone and amber. Time undoes even the mightiest creatures. Just look what it's done to you. One day, you will perish. You will like with the rest of your kind in the dirt. Your dreams forgotten, your horrors faced, your muscles will turn to sand, and upon that sand a new God will walk, one that will never die, because this world doesn't belong to you or the people who came before. It belongs to someone who is yet to come."

This great line of probably one of the best TV shows today made me think of an idea expressed by paleoanthropologist Yves Coppens in The Most Beautiful Story of The World. "It is unsure if we humans are to be the heroes of this story" The "story" being Earth's geological/biological evolution since its formation. We humans have been here on this planet for a mere million years. How long will we survive? Let's not forget that there are still like 4.000 million years of Earth history yet to unfold!

So will humans last? How long? And if not, who will their succesors be? And will these be the product of evolution/biology (as we were), or rather the product of (human-derived) technology?

Our descendants, the new masters of the world, will they be of the carbon type? Or rather of the silicon type, like these Westworld "artificial" but increasingly -through experience and change- humanlike creatures?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Onibaba (鬼婆, 1964)

As well as books, movies are countless. Over a century of movie-creating has resulted in an infinitude of them. In all languages, all topics and genres, all possible human approaches, and from all countries. Quite a few outstand as well-known masterpieces (Kane, Potemkim, Vertigo, 8 1/2, Tokio Story, 2001, Rashomon, Rules of the Game, and the like). But so many years of the so-called (7th)art have inevitably also led to the existence of a good amount of forgotten classics. That is: movies of obvious quality and aesthetic value but no longer (if ever) present in the charts, the critics' reviews or moviegoers' conversations. Perhaps forgotten is not the right word of course, as these movies are not actually "forgotten", but sure they're (a bit) neglected. At least outside the country where they originated.

Here's one of those hidden gems: Onibaba (鬼婆, 1964), from one of the most important cinematographies in the world: Japan. This dark hypnotic movie is not exactly a hidden gem. It is a gem, sure, but not "hidden", at least not in Japan. But is it known or heard of by most fans (even horror fans) in the West or the rest of the world? I doubt it.

The story of Onibaba is set in Japan in the mid 14th Century, during a period of civil war, of death, poverty and hunger, of loneliness and suffering. Two women, mother and daughter-in law, survive by killing soldiers after inadvertedly atacking them with spears, or tricking them into a deep hole. They later trade with their possessions, and that is how they make their living. A dangerous living in the nearly perpetual dusk (even under the sunlight) of this ominous world of Onibaba. 

Later on, at some point, the two women will be haunted by a sort of masked demon, whose origin was a previously killed (by them) masked samurai. Directed by Kaneto Shindo (who worked as an assistant of the legendary japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi), Onibaba is a true Japanese horror classic. Little known (or not at all) in the West. Some critics consider the movie to be a period drama, but most view it plainly as a horror movie. Well, it is both. And it contains solitude, hunger, maddening sexual desire, jealousy, fear, deceit, murder, claustrophobia, a menacing war background, and the presence of the supernatural, A great deal of symbolism underlies the story. (The mask hiding the desfigured samurai might be a symbol of that real Japan desfigured by the Hiroshima bombing, etc)

"Onibaba is a chilling movie, a waking nightmare shot in icy monochrome, and filmed in a colossal and eerily beautiful wilderness" Peter Bradshaw

Onibaba is a gem, hidden o not, not to be missed. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Enemy (2013)

Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered. José Saramago  

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013) is a Canadian-Spanish production loosely based on Jose Saramago's The Double, with screenplay by Javier Gullón. In a way, this is an intriguing encounter beetween the universes of the late portuguese writer (philosophical, intellectually on point, somewhat morose) and that of David Lynch (fantastic, dreamlike, highly symbolic). In Villeneuve's movie we are introduced to a College history teacher (Jake Gyllenhaal) by the name of Adam Bell, who leads a life apparently devoid of all excitement, a guy who seems totally focused on his academic discipline and who, as he himself claims "is not interested in movies" and probably, the viewer guesses, not into any other form of entertainment either. He just teaches history at College and makes love to his fiancée Mary (Mélanie Laurent), that's all.


But one day he comes across something really weird, something that will turn his monotone life upside down. On one ocasion a colleague suggests he take a look at one particular movie that he might find of interest which comes under the title of Where There's a Will There's a Way. Without much excitement, Adam rents a DVD of the movie and makes a pretty scary discovery: in the movie playing a very small role, there is an actor who is physically identical to him. Yes, a double, a doppelgänger, there in that obscure movie he had never heard of. After some quick googling, Adam finds out the identity of this second-to-third-rate basically unknown actor. He learns that he has just made a few movies and played in very small parts, as an extra, essencially. The actor's name is Anthony Claire and the little information he finds in the internet makes it clear that they are like two drops of water, or next to it.

Adam also finds out that his double (played also by Gyllenhaal, obviously) lives in Toronto as well, this dreamlike Toronto as depicted in Enemy, and he decides that he should meet him. Eventually the two men will meet in a creepy, slightly terrifying, face to face encounter, that Adam cannot completely cope with. 

Except for some minor details (Anthony wears a wedding ring), the two appear to be identical. Also both happen to be related to physically similar blond girl friends: Mary (Mélanie Laurent) and Helen (Sarah Gadon), Anthony's wife, who is 6 months pregnant. Adam and Anthony might look identical in physical terms but their psychologies drastically differ. Adam, the history teacher, is dubious and hesitating; Anthony, on his part, is more proactive, even agressive.

There is an unequivocal Lynchean atmosphere, oneiric, weird, in the development of the story. We find spiders here and there in the course of the movie, as if the spider (and a spider's web) was a key concept to the understanding of Enemy. What is going on here? What is the deeper meaning of this strange movie we are seeing?

Spiders here and there

I remember some time ago talking to a friend who had been engaged for a few years, though not yet married to his fiancée. I asked him how the thing was going, and I recall him saying something like At first I felt sort of trapped. But now I would say I am fine. Well, trapped. And this has been pointed out as one possible key to the underlying meaning of Enemy. This feeling of being trapped in a relationship, which is not clear. As if one was a kind of insect in a spider's web, and even ready to be devoured by the spider. And who is the spider? Well, uh, the woman. And the spider's web is nothing but the commitment: this commitment so often demanded, which some find suffocating, and so hard to stick to at times.

Also there is this final shot in Enemy. Again involving a spider. The most terrifying final shot in all movies, as some have said. Don't know if the most terrifying one, but scary as fuck, all the same. Spiders.

Spiders. Are they the clue? Being trapped by the spider's web of a commited relationship. Or is this, as someone else has suggested, an Invasion of the body snatchers thing? Could Anthony Claire, Adam's doppelgänger, be truly a spider in a human disguise? Well, anyway, Enemy is rich enough to allow different interpretations, as dreams do. One thing is certain: here is a story of the Mulholland Drive sort: incomprehensible, complex, lysergic, scary. Wonderfully image-turning. Filled with enigmatic clues and symbolisms to taste, if you are into it (Is this chaos decipherable?) If not, you can at least enjoy a good lynchean oneiric ride, without caring much about the meaning. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Nightcrawler (2014)

Of course, in Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014) we have another great performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, a most eclectic and arguably one of the finest actors today. But what I find most fascinating about his brilliant Louis Bloom creation is something that has already been noted by some viewers and critics: smartly psychopathic, Bloom is a close relative of two iconic Robert De Niro characters: Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (1976) and Ruppert Pupkin from The King of Comedy (1982), both directed by Martin Scorsese. Louis Bloom is definitely a sort of mixture of Bickle and Pupkin, sharing psychological traits with these two other lovable sociopaths.

Like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, he also scans away the night scene with a cold, dispassionate eye, safely behind the wheel of his car. Only that Bloom's eye is even colder and more dispassionate, because Bloom, unlike Bickle, doesn't exactely feel dismayed or angry by what he sees in the New York streets in the small hours, nor does he play with the idea of perhaps cleaning the streets up in some sort of fascist way. Louis Bloom just wants to document them, to "print on tape", or digitally register, the pain he comes across in the streets, or rather which he actively seeks for (accidents, murders, whatever), and then deliver it to others who are eager to consumate it. He delivers it to the media and wants to be paid for it accordingly. That is it. He doesn't give a shit about what causes the tragedies and their pains, or what could be done about it. We have this intuition that he could even be happy to create the painful situations himself, if necessary, if that could better serve his purposes, so as to have more of them to register, and earn more money.  His eye is not a moral one, it appears purely dehumanized.

And along with his other kindred spirit Ruppert Pupkin (King of Comedy), Bloom also has illusions of grandeur. Like Pupkin, he is obsessed with climbing up the ladder of success, no matter what. He definitely wants to be someone, a big someone. He is the ultimate entrepreneur, and an unscrupulous type of it. He knows what he wants. His moral approach might be reprehensible, but at least no one could say his goals are not crystal-clear. Aside from the psychological similarities between Bloom and Pupkin, Nightcrawl also delivers us (like The King of Comedy did) a critical comment on the media culture of the day. And in the case of Nightcrawl, on the harshest variety of it. If it bleeds it leads takes media culture to a most cynical dimension, in which images are coldly and impeccably manipulated to suit one particular narrative or editorial line.

Bickle, Pupkin and now Gyllenhall's Bloom are three sociopaths sharing the same essential icy loner psychology. Nightcrawl could well be considered the Taxi Driver of today. (It even has its own You Talking to Me? scene, guess which one). We could note that in 2014 Nightcrawl Jake Gyllenhall was the same age (33) as Robert De Niro in 1976 Taxi Driver. Maybe that is just a biographical anecdote, but it could as well be a sign of Gyllenhall's coming iconic status. What is not anecdote for sure, is that the anapologetic strenght of Nightcrawl seems to equal that of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Gilroy's movie is a great one, a realistic knockout in a moral sense. A cynical document in the form of fiction of today's world, and through the eyes of a most cynical character.