Movie Stream Cast 62: Nightcrawler (2014)

MSC Nightcrawler BannerOn episode 062 of Movie Stream Cast, Aaron Thompson returns to discuss Jake Gyllenhaal in Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut, Nightcrawler, which is streaming for a subscription on Netflix, and for a $2.99 digital rental on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and GooglePlay. We also briefly discuss the Jessica Jones and The Flash. And then Josh puts Aaron to the test for a round of “Who Quoted?”

STREAMING NEXT: Noah

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69 thoughts on “Movie Stream Cast 62: Nightcrawler (2014)

  1. Just seeing this several days ago and wow, I was blown away. I haven’t seen enough of the best 2014 movies to know where I’d rank it in my top 10 of the year, but I can only assume it’d be very high up on the list.

    While I didn’t think of Drive while watching this, I can see it. To some extent, the driving portions in Nightcrawler are just as vital to the story as they were in Drive. For me, the movie I kept thinking about while watching this was American Psycho. I saw Gyllenhaal and Bale as being similar characters. They’re both empty inside, but they seem to succeed in life, when they put in the effort, thanks in part to their confidence, drive, and charisma. By the time anyone around them realizes that they’re a sociopath, it’s too late. They are both such a dangerous character because of how harmless they initially seem to be. Both films would be completely different if their characters were ugly or introverts.

    —POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR NIGHTCRAWLER

    Despite the fact that Rene Russo looks great for her age (Can you believe she’s 61?!), I was glad that we didn’t see any sex scenes. It would have taken away from the story and instead just vaguely mentioning some experiences caused the viewer’s imaginations to run wild. Without explicitly stating what happened, I got the vibes of a weird sexual experience like we saw with Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. A bit as if Louis Bloom showed off his true personality behind those closed doors. On top of all that, not showing any of those scenes puts the viewer in the mind of Bloom, where he’s so wrapped up in his job that those sex scenes ultimately do not matter. It feels cheap and adds to Bloom’s (And now the viewer’s ego) where what you’re doing is far too important to waste focusing on that mindless sex. It may seem like such a small part of the movie, but to me it’s a huge part of the narcissistic attitude of Louis Bloom.

    I’ll make this quick and to the point, but the scene outside of the restaurant was one of the most tense scenes I can remember watching in a movie. It reminds me of a scene in The Hateful Eight where you know something bad is going to happen, but you don’t know exactly when. You’re so focused on the scene, not even wanting to blink so you can bare full witness to the grizzly scene once it begins. It falls right into Hitchcock’s prime example of suspense with the bomb.

    —END OF SPOILERS—

    Overall, Nightcrawler is one of the best movies I’ve seen from this site. I’d need to go back over my ratings in the various threads, but off of the top of my head, the only one I rated higher was Dogville.

    Rating: 9.5 Recommendation: Stream It Now

    • You may have just inadvertently raised the bar for this podcast, Sal. I now have a new goal.

      POTENTIAL NIGHTCRAWLER SPOILERS

      I agree with you that it is far more intriguing to keep the sex off screen. Just trying to imagine the horror and oddity of that dynamic is probably more effective than anything they could show.

      I also agree about the exceptional “bomb on a bus” tension in the diner scene. I thought the mansion scene was incredible too.

        • I guess the goal would be to find films that would give listeners the kind of reaction you had to this film. I’ve always seen the purpose of this show is looking at films in that middle ground that might be in people’s queues but they hadn’t gotten around to yet … but that hasn’t garnered as many listeners as I’d hoped. It is cool to see you get really excited about a movie we’re discussing.

  2. Re: the on-the-nose moralizing the film does that Aaron mentioned (through the police officer, the other newsroom guy, etc.). I totally agree that those elements took me out of the film momentarily, but I thought it so revealing that what they were temporarily suspending me from was a feeling of all-out rooting for Gyllenhaal’s character. I think the film does an excellent job of making the viewer empathize with the scrappiness of Louis Bloom, even if we are simultaneously horrified at empathizing with a monster. Because, after all, Louis is living out the American Dream. He is pulling himself up by his bootstraps and, relatively speaking, meeting wild success. He’s sort of an anti-Willy Loman character, and the thrill of his success against all odds is captivating.

    I think one of the reasons that it’s possible to maintain a degree of sympathy for Bloom is because ultimately the most sinister character in the film is the city in which it takes place. The LA of Nightcrawler is not too distant from the exaggerated and dark LA of Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust, and I think its concerns about the relationship between American success and figurative death are similar.

    As Louis Bloom and his fellow stringers literally circle the sites of the bloodied “meat” that provide their sustenance, it becomes clear that they are simply doing what is necessary to survive on the fringes of an society that is itself psychopathic in its insistence on disconnecting the visual evidence of suffering from its emotional context so that it may be commoditized. By having this story organically grow out of a setting where emptied out images are a primary medium of exchange, Nightcrawler’s strongest critique is therefore in my mind an implicit one, in which it suggests that emptied out people are the result, not the cause, of such horror. In that light, the police and the newsman maybe aren’t just spouting the obvious moral of the story–maybe their ineffective protests point to the sublimation of the individual to a culture of mindless capitalistic consumption.

    • I think there is a question as to who is the biggest villain in Nightcrawler. Louis Bloom is only able to have success because of so many other negative elements, each vital to Bloom succeeding, existing. You have the initial people who commit the crimes, the news stations paying good money for the videos, ratings dictating Rene Russo’s job security causing her to completely disregard all of the warning signs about Bloom (IE. Blood on the shirt), and just the general willingness of all of the other stringers that forces them all to step up their game. In some ways, Bloom is less of a villain and more of middle of the fence character who uses the system for his own advantage. Perhaps it’s that fact that makes Bloom the biggest villain of all.

      Perhaps that’s what makes Nightcrawler so good. Nearly everyone is some shade of grey rather than just good or bad.

      • Yes, totally agree. It’s all very grey. But what you were outlining was actually what I was trying to get at: Bloom adapts. He molds himself to fit his environment. He succeeds in the underhanded way that he does because his context, if not requires him, strongly rewards him for doing so. From an evolutionary perspective, Bloom’s ability to succumb is what allows him to survive and ultimately thrive. And in that way he is emotionally the film’s hero. Even when he’s doing things that make us cringe.

  3. Just for kicks, my Best of 2014 list for MPW:

    1. Finding Vivian Maier
    2. Enemy
    3. Force Majeure
    4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    5. Nightcrawler
    6. Blue Ruin
    7. Only Lovers Left Alive | and | Comet
    8. Under the Skin
    9. The Babadook | and | Tusk
    10. A Fantastic Fear of Everything | and | Frank

    (Addendum: Josh says the Best Animated Feature Film of 2014 is “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”)

    Clearly, I had a hard time narrowing it down. If I did it again now, it would basically be the same movies, but shuffled around a bit and I’d still have a hard time narrowing it down to 10.

    My updated list …

    Best Fictional Feature Films, 2014:

    1. Force Majeure
    2. Blue Ruin
    3. Nightcrawler
    4. Enemy
    5. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
    6. The Babadook
    7. Under the Skin
    8. The One I Love
    9. A Fantastic Fear of Everything
    10. Only Lovers Left Alive
    11. Night Moves
    12. Tusk
    13. Comet
    14. Frank
    15. Chef
    16. Interstellar
    17. Grand Piano
    18. Locke
    19. The Interview
    20. Ida

    Best Documentary, 2014: Finding Vivian Maier

    Best Animated Feature, 2014: How to Train Your Dragon 2

    • Wait, why are you doing separate lists? Did you finally succumb to the MPW peeps giving you a hard time about documentaries not being real movies?

      I like your updated list much more, Josh. I especially like that Finding Vivian Maier is not your number one film of the year. It was ok, but no way is it a top ten film imho. I’m curious as to how you approach documentaries. You being a filmmaker and specifically a documentary filmmaker, I’m sure you have an entirely different view of such films. Are you more interested in the story being covered or the way the documentary is filmed? I ask because there have been instances where you have been completely wowed by a documentary and disappointed by another when they’re both very similar in their approach to the filmmaking. It’s a little confusing. For instance, you were head over heels about Finding Vivian Maier and praised its filmmaking but were a little more lukewarm on Jodorowsky’s Dune. I saw both films and I’d say they’re comparable as far their filmmaking goes, which makes me curious if it was the subject matter that did it (or didn’t do it) for you. Anyway, I don’t mean to pick on your pick. Like I said, the point is that I’m curious as to how you approach documentaries. I do have a recommendation for anyone who liked Finding Vivian Maier though, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, Josh. It’s a 2014 documentary called The Salt of the Earth and it was quite the photographic journey. It’s a very interesting and fascinating look at a history of Earth through the lens of a photographer. It also raises the maybe questionable ethical choices of a photographer out in the real world. Should a photographer intervene when faced with a situation in which he or she could make a difference? Or should a photographer just document and make a difference through their work? This is a question that was brought up during my photography classes back in the day. I struggled with an answer then and I struggle with an answer now.

      Finding Vivian Maier – 8/10
      Jodorowsky’s Dune – 8.5/10
      The Salt of the Earth – 9/10

  4. Sal, you’re the only one ballsy enough to do this … would you be willing to watch Richard Dutcher’s Brigham City and/or States of Grace and let me know what you thought? I don’t know how readily available they are. A quick online scan only came up with this low-res YouTube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEh0zkOFmM4 but I will keep looking. So curious what you guys would think of these (admittedly low-budget, indie) movies.

    • I’m certainly willing to give them a chance.

      Brigham City won’t be a problem being able to watch. I found a DVD rip of it, that should be better quality than the Youtube.

      From my search of States of Grace, I’ve concluded three things:

      1) Pirates aren’t too interested in it.

      2) It’s apparently the name of a Taylor Swift song.

      3) It’s the French title of Short Term 12

    • Seeing that they’re both Mormon films, do you foresee any difficulty in understanding anything for those that aren’t very familiar with the religion?

  5. —SPOILERS FOR BRIGHAM CITY

    Production values wise, it seemed like the norm for a TV movie of the time. Maybe it’s because of the religious vibes, but it seemed like the same budget that a feature length episode of 7th Heaven_>

    Believe it or not, the one movie that kept popping into my head while watching this was Scream. Scenery wise, the mountains in Utah didn’t seem all that different from the location of Woodsboro. They both seem to be fairly small towns that are rocked by a series of deaths. There’s a line fairly early on in Brigham City where Bishop is told that they have a serial killer on his hands. All that was missing was Bishop saying how the killer needed to off a few more before it goes into serial killer status. Near the end, Terry reminded me of Billy, in both looks and his killer speech before being killed. He even blamed Bishop for the kills not unlike Billy blaming Sidney due to her mom’s actions. Lastly, there’s some of the eerie music that can be heard in both films.

    Wilford Brimley’s mustache singing the Cup Song (Miss me when I’m gone) was a highlight that I never thought I’d ever see.

    Biggest weakness was time management. On one hand, at two hours, it felt a little too long. On the other hand, due to all of the time devoted towards the religious portions, they didn’t devote much time to the minor characters. The biggest example of this was Brigham’s own version of Emma Stone – Jamie. I can’t remember a single scene with her prior to her final scene. Her death would have felt far more emotional had we got to know her. Personally, I would have ditched the entire FBI agent. She didn’t actually add anything to the story, but she had a ton of screen time.

    Biggest strength was the mystery and surprises. I did not expect Stu to be killed. Came out of nowhere and was a pleasant surprise to show that anyone could be killed. Likewise, the director conned me into believing that Peg’s boyfriend was the killer after it was revealed that the killer had some sort of connection to redheads. That final reveal is fantastic.

    The movie was not shy about pointing out how Mormons are great and everything else is scary. Bishop had several speeches even talking about how he’s tired of the outside world trying to infect his own personal paradise. It was all making me wish the killer would be a local Mormon to play into the idea that evil can exist anywhere, even if you think your home is an innocent place. However, the big reveal of Terry being the killer was done well enough that I was fine with it.

    The entire search party plot was crazy and broke so many laws. If I was Stephen, I would do two things immediately after the events of the movie. First I would move out of the town ASAP. The trust is broken. Second, I’d get in contact with Andy to find myself a good lawyer to sue that little town into bankruptcy. One girl goes missing and suddenly all of your personal freedoms are thrown out of the window? BS. To top it all off, they dragged that poor guy into custody simply because he had a porno stash. There was absolutely no reason to bring him into custody and to suddenly act as if he’s public enemy #1. This made Steven Avery and the Manitowoc County Police Department look like old chums.

    I wasn’t 100% clear on what happened at the end. From what I gathered, due to all of the terrible things that had happened to him, Bishop was close to turning away from God by not accepting Eucharist (At least that’s what Catholics call the bread and wine). Everyone else was like mindless sheep and followed his lead until Jamie’s little brother used his puppy dog look to convince Bishop to not give up on God and take the Eucharist. By doing this, it shows that this little town where no one has any personal rights, will be okay despite the tragedies that they went through. Except for Steven, the photographer, because F that guy since he has porn. He doesn’t get to be happy.

    Ha, I just realized Steven Avery and Steven, the photographer, has the same name. This just in, if your name is Steven, stay AWAY from little towns.

    Overall, I liked the mystery, although it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I feel it would have been a stronger film had they downplayed the religion. Due to how effective the mystery is and how difficult it was to correctly point out the killer (Ironically, my first suspect was Terry due to his desire for excitement, but he quickly got forgotten by me), I was fine with how much religion was in the film.

    Flawed movie, but where it excels, it really excels.

    Rating: 6/10 Recommendation: Stream It

  6. —SPOILERS FOR STATES OF GRACE/GOD’S ARMY 2

    I’m probably going to end up comparing a lot of this to Brigham City. Both movies have strengths that the other one is lacking. From a personal enjoyment standpoint, I enjoyed Brigham City more since I’m naturally going to be more into a murder mystery than the missionary work seen in States of Grace. This one had a lot more ties to religion than Brigham City since that one could wipe out all religious mentions and you’d still have the basic murder mystery, but you’re not left with much of a film if you do the same for this.

    The biggest strength for States of Grace over Brigham City was the time spent on the characters. We had enough time to spend on each of the characters that mattered and not once was I loss for who someone was. I will say that they wrapped up Louis’ story a little too quickly so that he was mostly absent from the final fourth of the film. A little more spreading out of his main story would have been good.

    I can’t say this movie did anything to help change my mind when it comes to celibacy in the church. Elder Farrell had his life practically shattered and nearly brought to an end due to all of the shame he was allowed to feel simply because he gave into temptation for a little fun. He was doing some great things, but none of that matters because he got laid.

    Perhaps I’m completely off base, but I wasn’t thrilled with how they treated Holly. I kept getting the vibes that they were trying to vilify her and be ostracized solely for her part in Farrell getting laid. The thing is, I never got the feeling the film was trying to make me feel similar negative thoughts against Carl, Louis, or Farrell. She’s the Whore of Babylon and God have mercy on her soul for tempting a good man with her naughty woman bits. I’d like to get your thoughts on this. Am I misreading something and they weren’t trying to make her look so bad?

    I really liked the the dual circle scene where the two brothers are surrounded by the men that will change their lives. In Carl’s case, it was the men there to help him become a better person in his rebirth. For Todd (Pfft…good luck being a gangster with the name Todd) is was being circled with the men that are responsible for ending his life. The red hoodie was also a good substitution for blood.

    Like Brigham City, it was pretty preachy in that if you’re Mormon, you’re good. If you’re not Mormon, well…you’re just some heathen that has no impulse control against murdering anyone. It reminds me of the whole excuse that you have to teach a man not to rape.

    I liked the play on Jesus with the elders going against natural assumptions. You had the traditional missionary not wanting to get his hands dirty, but the missionary with the shady past is wanting to help everyone, both good and bad.

    The Carl plot kept my interest. It’s a simple, but effective story of redemption and trying to avoid slipping back into old ways. That’s a plot that could have existed on it’s own without the religious ties.

    Again like Brigham City, two hours felt too long to me. The time management is far better in this though. Maybe just trim it down a bit.

    In another case of “Hey, that Mormon girl looks like ___”, Holly looked a lot like Shiri Appleby from her Roswell days. Certainly easy on the eyes.

    Overall, it’s not the type of movie I would normally watch. For what it was, it wasn’t bad though. I found myself chuckling at several points with it’s light jokes.

    Rating: 5/10 Recommendation: Stream It (If you’re a fan of religious movies)

  7. I agree with Aaron that Better Off Ted is a great sitcom. Very witty but also goofy. Awesome cast as well. It took me a while to get around to this series but it was worth it, and it can sometimes be found playing in the background at my house.

    • Better Off Ted is one I’ve been meaning to get back to for awhile. I saw the first two episodes on Netflix at some point, but I ended up not continuing on for whatever random reason.

      • Yea, my wife kept bugging me to watch it and I put it off for a long time. I don’t know what turned me off but I’m glad I watched it. The same thing happened with The I.T. Crowd.

        • Ironically, The IT Crowd is another show where I watched maybe four episodes before my attention turned to something else. I have a really bad habit of being unable to finish shows after I start them.

            • My problem isn’t that I’m instead watching horror movies, but rather I keep starting new TV series before I finish the previous one. I typically always have 1-2 TV shows that I’m slowly watching, so if it’s not one of those or remains one of them, it gets forgotten, regardless of how far along I am. It’s amazing I’ve fully finished as many TV series as I have with my habits, to be honest.

  8. —SPOILERS FOR SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA

    Random thoughts on the players that left some sort of impression on me:

    – Favorite player of the season was Jane. I know Josh is a BIG fan of Jane and for good reason. By looks alone, she seems like she was going to be one of the weakest players in the game, but wow, she was impressive. She certainly had some weaknesses when it came to challenges, but her strength was one of the best of the game. She was a wacky person and she was actually prepared coming into the game. How often do people come onto the show and even by the end of the show, they still don’t know how to make a fire? Well this crazy SOB did her training so she could bust out a fire within the opening minutes of ep 1. Mad respect, yo.

    – I really liked Fabio too. He came across as a bit of a moron, but the lovable goof sort of moron. I do think that after the tribes were switched up, he faded into the background some. Luckily, he stood out again near the end with three straight immunity challenge wins. If he had a stronger middle portion, he likely would have been my favorite player. Completely satisfied with Fabio winning.

    – Kelly B was an awesome player. What made her so inspirational wasn’t that she was playing with only one leg, but that she was a kick ass player despite her limitations. Other players kept waiting for her to fall on her face, but she never did. As much as I hated to see Kelly B go, they made the right move in kicking her off when they did, otherwise, she was going to be a major threat. For me, Kelly B was one of the more important players in the 12 seasons that I’ve seen on Survivor.

    – I had a lot of different opinions on NaOnka. There were points where she was my most hated player in Survivor history due to what a total witch she could be. As time went on, I began to appreciate her game play. She had a strategy and had to be one of the favorites to make the final three despite her severe lack of a chance at actually winning. When she wasn’t verbally (Or physically) attacking some of my more well liked players like Kelly B or Fabio, she could be pretty funny. I despised her for opting to allow Holly to give up her reward despite NaOnka already deciding to quit the game. Great villain.

    – Who was Purple Kelly? For someone who lasted a fairly long time (12 whole episodes!), it wasn’t until her final episode that she got any real screen time. I think up to that point, the only thing I remember about her was she had some dumb blonde line from ep 10 or so. Had they just made a couple more edits, they likely could have made it come across as if Purple Kelly wasn’t even on the show. Luckily she was hot, otherwise I wouldn’t have even known she was on the show in the first ten episodes.

    – Chase came across as a complete moron. Seems like a nice guy, but he made one boneheaded move after another. Reminds me a bit of Mike from Worlds Apart, only Mike at least dominated challenges.

    – I liked Brenda in the first season I saw her in and I appreciated her in this one. She may have ultimately failed, but she was mischievous. I can dig that.

    – It’s likely a good thing Shannon got voted off when he did. Otherwise, he probably would have had additional scenes where he made himself look as awful as he did during his final tribal council.

    – Hated Holly at the start of the season, but the longer it went, the more likable she came because of calming down the craziness.

    – I liked Alina. She was a big time thinker, but she just couldn’t find herself in a strong alliance. With a stronger alliance, she may have made it quite far in the game.

    – What’s the deal with some players claiming Dan was a threat to win near the end? Are you kidding me? He was the best player to bring to the finals. Sure, he hadn’t made a lot of enemies, but that was also his problem. He did nothing. He was always the worst player in challenges, never found himself in a strong alliance, and from a very early point in the game, he survived tribal councils because there were stronger foes to eliminate first. I could not believe when he was voted out in the final five. To keep him around for such a long time only to kick him off at the end seemed pretty pointless.

    – Medallion of Power would have been better had it been used once and that’s it. To keep switching it back and forth with the losing team actually gaining this power was lame.

    – The best starts of seasons are the ones with some sort of special marooning. Pearl Islands, for example, had a great one. When you don’t really have one like with Nicaragua, it makes for an underwhelming kick off.

    – While I wouldn’t say the season was bad, it didn’t reach high heights in any category. It’s not the weakest season I’ve seen thus far though. That dishonor still belongs to Tocantins.

  9. Josh, what Survivor pools are you and your gang doing this time around? I had so much fun competing with you last time!

    • Ahhh! Jenifer! Thank you so much for reminding me. I totally forgot to register. Please do join us. Anybody else here too! You need to enter you picks before the show airs EST.

      We do “JSFL” from The Survivor Fans Podcast. Register and enter you picks here:

      http://www.stevejodiweber.com/jsfl/

      Once you’re in you need to pick a winner of the season by clicking “Enter USB Pick” and then choose who is safe and unsafe for the fist episode by clicking “Enter Picks” … Make sure to click “Submit” on both of those and you’re good.

      We also do The Tribe: Survivor Podcast. You just want to go to the main page at:

      http://survivorpodcast.com/

      Click “fantasy” under the “Join the Community” heading on the main page. Once you register, click on “Join a Pool”, choose “CBS Survivor 32” from the pull down, enter “The Tribe: Fantasy League” as the pool name, and then re-enter your username and password to join. Then, you just need to click on “Your Pools” to enter both your “Weekly Picks” and “Overall Pick” … this is my favorite of all the fantasy leagues.

      Finally, we do the Purple Rock Podcast:

      http://www.purplerockpodcast.com/2016/01/28/pick-4-survivor-fantasy-league-for-survivor-kaoh-rong/

      Basically, you pick four people, ride or die, and see how they do throughout the season in different categories. The trick is that you have to pick 4 PEOPLe that NOBODY ELSE HAS PICKED! Leave your picks at the bottom in the comments and they will add you to the list.

      You can watch the cast intro videos here is you need some intel before making your selections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlFnc1eozjc

      Lack of pre-season press is likely a CBS cover-up that the Survivor: “What Could Kaoh Rong cast is already dead: http://bit.ly/20YmUtx

      • Remember, for The Tribe, You are ALWAYS picking the players who you think will be eliminated or sent home this week. You can enter up to 20 points for any number of Contestants and you get all the points you place on the correct pick.

      • I ended up joining The Tribe: Fantasy League and JSFL. On both sites, I signed up as Sal Roma. This is the first time I’ve ever done any sort of fantasy league. I figured being a part of a league would be an effective way to keep watching every week and not have a repeat of last season when I didn’t want to wait so I stopped watching in favor of watching older seasons.

        • Awesome!

          You’re such a good sport, Sal (still have to respond to your excellent Brigham City and States of Grace comments). Makes this fun.

          I’m on both as “Icarus Arts”, Jenifer was “Jenifer P” last year and Cody was “Cody” on one and “Jeff Probst’s Hair Piece” on the other.

          • Don’t tell me that beautiful head of hair is nothing more than a fake hair piece. My world would be crushed! :(

            Frankly, I had no idea Survivor was coming back so soon. It felt like the previous season just ended.

          • Yes, the Winter wait between seasons feels much too short and the Summer wait feels much too long. Just the nature of Network television, I guess. They do two seasons per year, film them back-to-back in the same location over the Summertime and then one airs as a Fall season and the other airs as a Spring seasons. Season 32 was actually filmed before season 31, so I’m sure the wait has felt way too long for the cast who filmed early last Summer.

      • Geez, you do a lot of Survivor fantasy leagues. I’m going to try and sign up for at least one of them later today (and, of course, follow along with this season).

    • Also, Jenifer, since I know you are in Utah and/or not a crazy person, I’d love to invite you out to a Survivor watch party tomorrow night. Jennifer (from the new season) is hosting and a bunch of the Utah-based Survivors are going to be there including China’s Todd Herzog and my buddy Jonas, among others. DM me on Twitter and I’ll get you deets. Everybody else, move to Utah already! Actually, Juan, Mike Holloway lives near you and he is one of my favorites.

  10. Who is everybody feeling for Survivor 32, “What Could Kaoh Rong”?

    My early favorites: I love Tai, Jason, Debbie and Aubrey as characters. Also interested in Scot, the former NBA bad boy. My money for best players is on Liz, Anna, Nick and Neal. Also rooting for Jennifer because she’s local and bc I’ll know her after tonight. The rest of the cast doesn’t do much for me.

    • I ended up picking Liz for my overall pick or “USB” on JSFL and Kyle for my overall pick on The Tribe. Immediately regretted the latter.

      My Purple Rock picks were: Liz, Anna, Nick and Neal. Hopefully I got those locked-down.

      One of the Purple Rock hosts picked Jennifer to win and their listeners have her as their overall winner.

      I’m really surprised people have Michelle ranked so favorably.

      • What surprises me here is that Peter did so well with the hosts. His comment in the pre-show videos about not being able to tolerate morons (I think he actually said “ignorant people”) was a huge red flag. No matter what kind of people you can’t stand IRL, you go into the game dead set on relating to everybody, no matter what, and you don’t ever let any hint of despising people for any reason cross your lips.

        • But most actual morons aren’t aware that they’re a moron. So even moron’s probably nod in supercilious agreement at such an admission. Stupidity is a pretty universal category of derision even by the stupid. Even Trump believes in his own intelligence.

          • David, thanks for reminding me to make my picks for this week.

            (I know that was your goal with this post… right?…)

      • I took Jennifer in JSFL, Neal in the Tribe, and asked for Neal, Jennifer, Elisabeth and Caleb in PRP (don’t know whether I got it yet). I’m shaky on Caleb, so I love that PRP lets you watch the first episode before locking in your roster.

    • I’m torn on Tai. On the surface, he looks like someone who could go pretty far. The downside is that he sticks out from the rest of the Beauty tribe. As long as he can survive his first tribal council, he should be fine though.

      Jennifer seems like she could be an early favorite.

      While he’ll obviously have a target on his back due to his size, Jason seems like he’ll be likable.

      I love villains, so I have my eye on Nick.

      Being a former Piston, I have to cheer for Scot Pollard some. Like another former Piston, Cliff Robinson, Pollard’s going to have problems due to his past success and whether anyone would want to see him win it all.

      Neal could be interesting. Whether he’s actually going to be great or if he’s all talk.

      Looking forward to seeing what Joe can do. Old players always struggle early on, but there have been some like Bob from Gabon that shocked everyone with how physical he could be despite his age.

      Just on the surface, I can see already see Debbie being one of the more annoying players of the season.

      • Debbie is INTERESTING though and she compares herself to Coach, which is an instant win in my book. Still, if her tribe goes to tribal first, it’s probably her or Aubrey going out first.

        I worry about Nick the way you worry about Neal. I think they are both playing it up for the cameras, but whether they’ll actually deliver as players / villains is up in the air.

        Now, Kyle “Sarge” Jason on the other hand … this guy is a badass. Former military, former Blackwater (?!), current bounty hunter! Holy crap! And, Sal, I thought you would like it when Kyle said that “the only Survivor to ever play the game correctly was Russell Hantz.” He could be a great villain.

        I guess I’m hoping Tai is a Yau Man 2.0, but I think he’s even older. He and Joe have an uphill battle if their tribes go to tribal first, due to their age.

        Excited to meet Jennifer tonight. Will return and report with some intel.

        • Did Kyle say that? Wow. He just rose up to the top of my “Possible Replacements for Caleb” list for PRP.

        • Where did you hear that Jason aka Kyle aka Sarge thought Russell H played the best game? I’ve watched a few of the videos on Youtube and haven’t come across that line yet.

          It’s just another reason to love Jason though.

          • It’s from his official written CBS bio. His exact words:

            SURVIVOR Contestant You Are Most Like: Russell Hantz because he is the only person that has ever truly played the game the way you should. The only difference is that I wouldn’t wait so long making things disappear.”

            • If Jason is anything like Russell H, we’re going to see some great tribal councils.

              Currently I’ve watched the first nine episodes of Heroes vs Villains and Russell is continuing where he left off in Samoa in being the main one responsible for creating a fun season.

              As much as I liked Ozzie and Malcolm, I don’t see anyone ever beating Russell for my favorite all time player as I continue to make my way through past seasons.

          • I can’t believe that Boston Rob isn’t on that list after his incredible game and villain performance in All-Stars. Can’t wait for you to finish HvV and watch Redemption Island.

            • How can you hate on Ozzie?!

              I like Boston Rob, but there’s absolutely no way that I can cheer for him over Russell. As you can probably imagine, I had a TON of fun with HvV when it came to Boston Rob vs Russell H and how all of that turned out.

            • Also, how was Survivor 4: Marquesas for Boston Rob? That’s a season I obtained and while I realize it was low on your rankings, I’m wondering if it’s still good for Boston Rob moments.

          • Ozzie is the reverse Coach. He starts off fairly down to earth and likeable in that never-quitting underdog type way but gradually lets the hype go to his head and evolves into kind of a tool who can’t see past his own arrogance.

    • I’m almost feeling Josh’s Terrible Pun more than any of these contestants. I always love the All New Contestants seasons, but I also always have a hard time feeling people out before they’re on the show. Interesting exception: I both liked Jeremy Collins and thought he would be an excellent player from the moment that I watched his first-ever “Survivor” interview, before the launch of San Juan del Sur. He got some bad breaks in his first season, but turned out to be everything I thought he had the potential to become when “Second Chances” rolled around.

      For Kaoh Rong, I think I’ll probably enjoy watching (for various reasons) the following: Neal, Jennifer, Elisabeth, Anna, Tai, Kyle, Peter/Nick (they’re kind of the same contestant, in my head) and Joseph. I really want Joseph to hang around, just because I think it’s awesome that a 72-year-old would even attempt this (and has the conditioning to get on the show), and I think the FBI background could be a fun element. My initial impression of him in that regard is that he’s much more legit former peace officer than nut job. More Tony than Phillip, so to speak. As The Old Guy, he’ll be toting a huge target from the start, but I’d really love to see him hang in there through the initial stages.

      I agree that Tai and Debbie will be fun characters, but I don’t think either of them will get to the Merge (although Tai feels more likely than Debbie to make it that far). I also don’t think Aubrey will last very long. Most of the preceding analysis, however, is based on a bird’s eye view of tribe dynamics. I don’t have a super strong feel for anyone’s individual game yet, although I think Neal, Elisabeth, Jennifer and Caleb (Beast Mode Cowboy from “Big Brother”) feel well-equipped to succeed in that regard.

      Caleb has a big advantage in having done a reality show once already. “Big Brother” is not “Survivor,” but there are a lot of similarities, and I think having both lived it and watched yourself live it once already makes the whole thing a little easier, particularly out of the gate.

      • Yes to everything you said about Caleb. I think it’s a huge advantage. I also read in Josh Wiggler’s Parade coverage that Jeff didn’t want Caleb on the show but was pleasantly surprised. As ridiculous as it is, I hope they call him Beast Mode Cowboy on the show and preserve “Survivor Caleb” in memoriam for that sweet guy from Blood vs Water who was gone too soon. So sad. Jeff didn’t even mention Caleb’s passing on the reunion show, which I think was a mistake.

        I agree with you about the “more Tony than Phillip” comment, Cody. I just hope he is a little more sharp than Rudy.

        Re: Nick and Peter … as I mentioned to you via text, I think Nick is playing up his personality for the cameras while I think Peter is sincere in his egotism. So, I think Nick can save it for his confessionals while Peter might turn people off in the game.

  11. Finished up my thirteenth season of Survivor.

    —SPOILERS FOR SURVIVOR: HEROES VS VILLAINS—

    – Obviously, I’m a huge Russell fan. I agree with his way to play is what should be considered the best way to play and why he should have won Survivor Samoa. That being said, the jury vote changes anything and unless you take keeping people on your side, then you’re going to technically be considered a failure. I will say this about Russell though. Yes, he seemed to fail to understand that making it to the final three is not the same as winning, but he’s right in that he only played one season. With the filming dates of Samoa and Heroes vs Villains both wrapping before the final results of Samoa were revealed, you could argue that Russell didn’t realize that his game play isn’t how you play to win. I don’t know if I’m going to watch Redemption Island next, but that season does have some intrigue to it to see if Russell changes up his game at all, knowing that his previous method only gets him to the final three. Looking back, I think it’s a bit unfair to have Russell back for a second season before his first could air. He didn’t know if his game play was ultimately successful or not. Of course, you couldn’t put together a villain team without Russell though.

    – I’d also say one of Russell’s biggest weaknesses in this season was that he wasn’t playing with a bunch of jokes like in Samoa. The Fao Fao Four were nothing compared to the Villains alliance that he made.

    – Parvati completely shocked me. During her first season, I hated her. I thought she was a complete joke at viewing herself as a major player. This season changed that. I really appreciated her game play. She was flat out awesome in the game, not only strategy, but also at winning challenges. To me, she should have won over Sandra, but her tightness with Russell seemed too much for people to look passed.

    – While I didn’t think she should have won over Parvati, I’m fine with Sandra winning. She’s a great player in that her mind is always working, even if she is awful at challenges. While it might be a bit cheap, but she also has a huge emotional advantage due to having a husband in the military and her mother dying the previous year. With how she played, it seemed silly to me to be so certain that anyone could win against her.

    – Without question, the biggest disappointment of this season was Colby. I don’t have a lot of memories of season 2 back when it originally aired, but the first player that was my favorite was Colby. He flat out sucked this season. Challenges wise, he was about as useless as Courtney and Sandra. Looking back, the Heroes would have been in a much better spot keeping everyone before Colby. I’d rather have an one legged James over Colby.

    – While I do like Boston Rob, I had so much fun seeing Rob bested by Russell at the tribal councils. It’s a shame they eliminated Boston Rob so early, I would have liked to see more battles between Rob and Russell.

    – Coach was actually tolerable in this season.

    – For a former winner, JT sure came off like a moron. Between flip flopping back and forth pre-merge to the dumbest play in Survivor history, it amazes me that JT actually won a season with how he played here.

    – The lack of Sugar made me sad.

    – Disappointed that Stephenie didn’t last long. Loved her in Palau, but she did have a great moment with the separated shoulder in the first episode. I know she wins some season though, so at least there’s that.

    – They should bring Tyson back for every season just to provide some commentary.

    – It amazes me that Rupert still doesn’t try a different strategy after all of the seasons he’s been on. I love the guy, but he can also be annoying.

    – Sandra burning Russell’s hat made up for the lack of Russell messing with Boston Rob’s hat. If Russell doesn’t mess with Rob’s hat in Redemption Island, I’m going to be pissed. You can’t put that amazing thought in my head without delivering.

    – The finish to the final immunity challenge was the best that I’ve seen thus far. Fantastic finish.

    – Overall, certainly an entertaining season, although I feel it was more entertaining pre-merge.

  12. Since I was briefly talking about this on Twitter and it’s difficult to do so in 140 characters.

    (Contains some spoilers)

    The Imposter (2012)

    So last night, I was looking for something to find on Netflix to fall asleep while watching. Typically, I go for comedy specials, but I found The Imposter in the docs section. The main thing thing stood out about this doc is how fantastical it all was. The idea that this is a true story is insane when it would have been crazy had it just been a fictional movie on it’s own. The series of events made everyone involved either look like a lunatic, oblivious to the most obvious facts, or just incompetent. The two people that stood out the most to me were Frédéric Bourdin and Charlie Parker, the private investigator. Say whatever negative thing you wish about Bourdin, but he’s such a fascinating person. He out Daniel Day-Lewis when it came to method acting! Parker was hilarious (THE EARS DON’T MATCH!!!) and was the sort of unique character that you just can’t make up. The fact that these two people were real blew my mind.

    For a documentary, The Imposter is very stylized. It’s a simple doc in that they tell a story, but they do so with thematic techniques. It was a bit like a true crime TV show or stylized in such a way that you would make a fictional movie appear to be a doc. I loved the usage of Bourdin recreating the lines that he once uttered once upon a time ago.

    If I do have a disappointment, and this might not actually be a fair one, it’s that I wanted some conclusion as to what really happened with Nicholas. Once the credits begin, you still don’t know a single actual fact as to what happened to him. There’s some solid ideas, but how much can you really believe them when it’s Bourdin that suggest most of them? I suppose this is the difference between a fictional movie and a documentary. In a doc, you don’t always get the ending you wish to see. Again, since this doc is so over the top fantastical and crazy to think that it’s all true, it makes not having that revelation over what happened to Nicholas stand out more.

    The biggest strength of The Imposter is that I think even viewers who aren’t fans of docs, would end up loving this. It makes me want to check out some more creative docs that strives to stand out for it’s style rather than simply it’s subject matter. Likewise, I’d like to see more docs about Bourdin, covering more of the antics from his past that were just briefly mentioned in passing here.

    Rating: 8.5/10 Recommendation: Stream it

    • Ironically, it looks as if there’s going to be a new ABC show called The Family. The description over at IMDb:

      “A community is rattled when a politician’s son, who was presumed murdered years ago, returns home.”

      I saw some of the TV spots for the show during the Oscars. It seems like a big plot of the show is whether or not the returning son is actually the son or someone else. Might be worth checking out if anyone is a fan of The Imposter.

      The show begins on March 3rd.

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