Sunday, March 10, 2019

Velvet Buzzsaw

Movie Name: Velvet Buzzsaw
Year of Release: 2019
Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, John Malkovich, Zawe Ashton, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, Mig Macario
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6 
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Writer and Director Dan Gilroy is back, following his previous feature "Roman J. Israel, Esq" which premiered in 2017. "Velvet Buzzsaw", which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and is distributed by Netflix, is a clear departure for the director, since it goes in a style very much different from his previous endeavors (both as a director and screenwriter). The film focuses on the art world in Los Angeles, specifically on a series of interconnected characters, starting with Mort Vandewalt, an art critic who carries a tremendous amount of clout on the scene, Rhodora Haze, a gallery owner who is well known and ambitious, but also feared, and a series of characters all of which are connected to them both, namely Josephina, who works for Rhodora and gets romantically involved with Mort, Jon who runs another gallery but also has ties with Rhodora, Gretchen, who is responsible for the curation and scheduling of collections for a Museum in LA, Piers, Coco, among many others. This microcosms of relationships gets thrown into disarray, when a neighbor of Josephina dies, and she uncovers a library of paintings in his apartment that are both disturbing and stunning. These works take the art world by storm, but simultaneously disturbing and mortal accidents start occurring to the characters who are involved with these works. Mort takes upon himself to discover the story behind the artist who originated them.
"Velvet Buzzsaw" is Dan Gilroy's third feature, and while not as overly ambitious as his first two (particularly the fantastic "Nightcrawler"), it's still an interesting exercise and look at the milieu of the art world scene. It's also a not so veiled criticism at the business and mechanics of the perception that keeps this industry moving forward, and how eventually everyone keeps that industry of superficiality and ego moving forward. The film eventually veers into a pulpier territory, with the introduction of the supernatural element, by way of the paintings which carry a heavy burden/heritage, but it's nonetheless a film that manages to keep momentum and interest. The film also benefits from a fantastically talented cast, with great turns from Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo (though her cutthroat type of character is starting to become a bit repetitive), Toni Collette and Zawe Ashton. It's a film that could have aimed far higher, but that ends up being more of a really entertaining couple of hours, from a very interesting writer/director.