Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Nightcrawler is Certified Fresh

Plus, Before I Go to Sleep is well-crafted but too slack; Saw gets a 10th anniversary rerelease; and we tell you what's Fresh on TV.

by | October 30, 2014 | Comments

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This week at the movies, we’ve got a crime reporter (Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo), a troubled amnesiac (Before I Go to Sleep, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth), and a sadistic killer (the 10th anniversary rerelease of Saw, starring Cary Elwes and Danny Glover). What do the critics have to say?. What do the critics have to say?

Nightcrawler

95%

A creepy, tense thriller about a nocturnal obsessive or a satire of the 24-hour news cycle? Critics say Nightcrawler is a terrific blend of both, with a live-wire performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and an evocative, sinister sense of place. Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a freelance TV journalist who sells lurid crime footage to a local station. But as his career progresses, and his scoops become ever more explosive, Bloom’s shaky ethics threaten to overwhelm him. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Nightcrawler is so taut, atmospheric, and well-acted, you might not even notice the leaps in narrative logic.

Before I Go to Sleep

37%

Before I Go to Sleep boasts an intriguing premise, a top-notch cast, and slick, sleek production values. So how could it miss? The answer, say critics, is that the film’s fine performances are in service to a plot that starts strong but strains credulity as it goes along. Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who wakes up every day with no memory of her past — the tragic result of an accident. But when she makes a shocking discovery, our heroine delves into the secrets of her past while trying to determine who she can trust. The pundits say Before I Go to Sleep often gets by on chilly atmosphere and the strength of Kidman’s performance, but it doesn’t quite achieve the chilly heights it’s aiming for.

Saw

49%

Ten years ago, before the term “torture porn” had even been invented, Saw hit theaters awash in Sundance buzz and comparisons to Se7en. The critics were split: some found it to be brutal and clever, while others simply found it depraved. Half a dozen sequels followed, but none could approach the original Saw in terms of novelty or (moderate) critical acclaim. If you’ve ever wanted to enter the twisted world of diabolical killer Jigsaw in a darkened roomful of screaming strangers, now’s your chance: Saw is hitting theaters to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

What’s Fresh on TV:

Critics are still mixed on Gotham‘s overall tone, but most found “The Spirit of the Goat” (67 percent) to be a step in the right direction, thanks in part to much-needed character details about Oswald Cobblepot and Detective Bullock.

Creepy atmosphere, high-stakes action, and splendid special effects combine with a welcome touch of humor to overcome narrative flaws and present a version of Constantine (69 percent) that’s close to his comics counterpart.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Revenge of the Mekons, a rockumentary about the cultishly adored British indie band, is at 100 percent.

  • Jean-Luc Godard‘s Goodbye to Language 3D, an atmospheric meditation on the nature of communication, is at 89 percent.

  • The Great Invisible, a documentary about the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, is at 84 percent.

  • Point and Shoot, a documentary about a Baltimore man whose five-year tour of the Middle East included a stint in the Libyan Revolution, is at 71 percent.

  • ABCs of Death 2, a 26-chapter anthology horror film that takes another crack at alphabetical terror, is at 68 percent.

  • Private Peaceful, a period drama about two brothers whose loyalties are tested amidst the fog of World War I, is at 65 percent.

  • Magical Universe, a documentary about an eccentric octogenarian outsider artist, is at 60 percent.

  • Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple in a fantasy thriller about a man who’s been accused of a crime and finds horns with astonishing powers growing out of his head, is at 48 percent.

  • Missionary, a thriller about a woman who tries to break off her extramarital affair with a missionionary when she reunites with her estranged husband, is at 38 percent.

  • Hit By Lightning, starring Jon Cryer and Will Sasso in a comedy about a guy who meets the perfect woman only to discover she wants to kill her husband, is at 14 percent.