“Nightcrawler” (3 stars): Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as a hustler looking for work selling footage to local TV news falls somewhere between Norman Bates and Gordon Gekko in his entrepreneurial efforts. Dan Gilroy is fearless in his writing and direction. He never backs off from making his main characters morally bankrupt and overly zealous when it comes to the job. These are not people to like as much as fear and respect for their lack of boundaries.
“Kill the Messenger” (3 stars): Although the story deals with an important moment in history, the film finds its power in the personal story of those involved — the heralded and eventually crucified San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner ). Renner finds the perfect beat to show the stages of Webb’s rise and fall. At the start, he plays Webb with the kind of optimistic enthusiasm writers have when they latch on to a big story. Just as quickly, Renner shifts to a reserved humbleness after his story becomes a sensation. What makes Renner’s work so masterful is that he’s equally as believable when Webb’s life and career crash.
“Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” (2½ stars): This movie banks heavily on the natural charms of Steve Carell and the motherly ways of Jennifer Garner to win over an audience.
“Laggies” (2½ stars): In lesser hands, “Laggies” would have been little more than an after-school special about the uncertainties highschoolers have about their future, emotional connections and family. That perspective is offered through Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz ), a confused teen living with her divorced father, Craig (Sam Rockwell).
Also new on DVD this week:
“Addicted”: Sharon Leal portrays a woman who puts her career and family life in jeopardy when she has an affair with a painter.
“Love at First Bite/Once Bitten”: Double feature of the George Hamilton and Lauren Hutton comedies.
“Poker Night”: Detective is caught in sadistic game. Ron Perlman stars.
“Nurse Jackie: Season 6”: Jackie (Edie Falco ) enjoys her sobriety.
“Syncopation”: William Dieterle’s 1942 musical feature with Benny Goodman.
“Olive Kitteridge”: Acclaimed cable mini-series starring Frances McDormand.
— Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee