What’s artwork? For Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy, it is a goal. His new film Velvet Buzzsaw takes the pretentious artwork world as its canvas and makes use of a palette mixing pointed satire and bloody horror.
Premiering on the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Velvet Buzzsaw involves Netflix on 1 February. Gilroy groups up as soon as once more with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, who delivered such searing performances within the darkly incendiary Nightcrawler.
The movie opens with a wander round upscale artwork truthful Artwork Basel that recollects the work of Robert Altman, assembly numerous characters as they flirt and snipe at one another whereas carrying nice outfits. This sequence takes a little bit of focus, as a number of characters are launched by different folks gossiping about them, so it takes a minute to hitch up the names and faces as you’re employed out who’s who.
Amongst these characters are Gyllenhaal’s critic and artwork world kingmaker, all hoisted eyebrows and outsized designer glasses. Russo is a punk rocker turned stylish gallery proprietor, whereas John Malkovich performs an artist wrestling between sobriety and creativity and Toni Collette is a museum employee greedy the brass ring. It is fairly humorous stuff, like when Gyllenhaal’s obliviously taste-obsessed critic critiques the music at a funeral, or a lifeless physique is mistaken for an artwork set up.
The shallow self-centeredness and vapid appetites of this crass forged of LA denizens recollects the work of Brett Easton Ellis, full with swerve into horror territory. Gyllenhaal and Russo’s characters go by the names Morf Vandewalt and Rhodora Haze, however even they’re given a run for his or her cash within the foolish identify stakes by the movie’s most essential character, Vetril Dease. He is a reclusive outdated man who drops lifeless in entrance of Zawe Ashton‘s bold assistant Josephina, leaving a grubby house filled with stunningly intense work. The actual fact Dease wished his work destroyed does not hassle the vultures of the artwork world as they instantly start to circle. Morf plans a ebook about Dease, Josephina plots to make her profession and Rhodora schemes to turn into much more filthy wealthy.
Issues do not go their means for lengthy. As folks start to die in unusual and horrifying methods and the remaining characters spiral into desperation and venality, it appears the artwork could be taking revenge…
That is the place Gilroy’s pointed satire of the artwork world detours into darker territory. From Josephina creeping by a spooky house to the elaborately staged murders, Velvet Buzzsaw revels in horror tropes. The set-piece deaths and blood-drenched grand guignol fashion recall over-the-top 1973 horror movie Theatre of Blood, during which Vincent Value’s disgruntled actor murders his critics. There is a sure pleasure within the mixture of excessive artwork and base depravity, and it is all the time enjoyable to see A-list celebs offed in extravagant methods, however many of the murders aren’t that memorable.
Velvet Buzzsaw can be much like an episode of the darkly humorous British anthology present Inside No. 9, during which the attendees of an artwork present are picked off one after the other. There, the twist is that the victims shared a grim reference to the artist. However in the event you’re anticipating a twist from Velvet Buzzsaw it by no means actually materialises.
Different parts of the story are additionally undercooked. The plot is kicked off by Josephina actually stumbling upon the lifeless man, which is a moderately flat coincidence on which to hold the entire plot. As an alternative of peeling again layers of suspense across the mysterious artist, Gilroy has a non-public eye flip up midway by to elucidate every part after which disappear. And it looks like the varied victims are got rid of earlier than they go to the fascinating locations their characters might need recommended.
Finally, Velvet Buzzsaw lacks the savagery seen in Nightcrawler’s scathing critique of the information business. Pretentious artwork snobs are a fairly straightforward goal, and never notably very important or well timed for right now’s viewers. Maybe Gilroy ought to have gone much less velvet and extra buzzsaw.