The egomaniacal impulses that drive Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in Nightcrawler are also alive in an obnoxious person named Matt VanDyke, the focus of Marshall Curry’s outstanding documentary. After college, Baltimore resident and nonpareil narcissist VanDyke embarked on a ”crash course in manhood,” renamed himself Max Hunter, and traveled to the Middle East with his motorcycle and video camera. Following a series of unwise decisions, he found himself embedded with revolutionaries in the 2011 Libyan civil war. He even sniper-fired on an enemy combatant—though not until making sure that a Libyan was recording it. ”We all gotta get a thrill somehow, right?” he says with a smirk that will make your flesh crawl off your bones.
As with Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, Point and Shoot is a study of one man’s toxic need for aggrandizement, and is composed mainly of VanDyke’s own footage. But unlike Herzog’s poetic scolding, Curry exhibits extraordinary restraint and objectivity. Many of VanDyke’s imbecilic, humble-brag comments are so deluded—”When I saw myself in news reports fighting, it became validation that I was a real rebel fighter”—that they seem like laugh lines from The Colbert Report. Curry’s condemnation is unspoken, coursing silently through the story’s veins. His film is an essential, fascinating critique—and product—of our ”look at me” culture. A-