Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is one of those films that gets under your skin; indeed it crawls into you and makes you feel slightly dirty for enjoying it so much.  It is a film that I thought was very much inspired by Drive, and indeed Jake Gyllenhaal is as unpredictable at the titular character from Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film.

Jake himself is superb; a wiry, gaunt, intense anti-hero; he is singular in his purpose & determination, and though the first few scenes demonstrate what he is capable of we are forever worried about just how far he is prepared to go.  As Lou Bloom, Jake is quite unpredictable; the scenes with Rene Russo often bristle with tension and anticipation and we're never sure where the conversation will go.  He also gives a superb soliloquy as he is giving his demands to Rene Russo’s news editor, and certainly deserves his BAFTA nomination for Best Leading Actor.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Science in the Movies

As scientists we get a pretty hard time of it.  If we’re not struggling for publishable results, or being misquoted in the press about our research; then we’re being portrayed as über-geeks in The Big Bang Theory or with cinema-screen foreheads and clipboards in adverts (I’m looking at you Tefal).  Some of my non-science friends still call me boffin. If that isn’t enough, our subject matter, our interest, nae, our passion can be treated with such cavalier contempt in films.

As I see it, there are several issues to address here.  There is a fair amount (as you might expect) of bad science in movies; however there is also some good science (or at least the director has made an attempt to grasp some basics).  Quite often the scientist is the voice of reason (though the incidence of anyone paying them any attention is rather less); more often than not however, the mad scientist is the preferred flavour.  Finally I shall give some thought to the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the movies and whether there is any likelihood that it may change.