Monday, February 16, 2015
James Newton Howard's score for Dan Gilroy's tense thriller "Nightcrawler" varies wildly aesthetically from one scene to the next, but it always works. Both the direction and the score are executed flawlessly. The sonic choices range from the opening shot's jangly guitar all the way to flanged drum machine beats in the very next scene, and then at one point staccato orchestral strings and at another huge breathy sound sculptures. Howard's score only gets dissonant a few times, remaining melodic throughout the rest of the film, which is somewhat of a different way of thinking about scoring a modern day film in this genre, where constant dissonance seems to be the preferred method of creating tension. My favorite moment of music in the movie is bizarre spaghetti western tune coming through a radio while the protagonist fuels up at a gas station.
The film itself is riveting and very original, definitely one of the best big budget Hollywood thrillers I've seen in the last year. It features one of the best car chases since Bulliet. I'd think Gyllenhaal's portrayal of the deranged protagonist would have gotten him a best actor nomination but I've accepted at this point that I'm the world's worst guesser of who will get nominated for an Oscar/what people will like. Nightcrawler is also notable for avoiding displaying the news camera's footage during the action; we only see what the camera sees when they're cutting the footage together at the news station, and thus the film avoids a gimmick which is growing old fast in modern cinema. It's a little weird, very exciting and very highly recommended.