VELVET BUZZSAW (2019)

velvetbuzz

Written & Directed By: Dan Gilroy
Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Editor: John Gilroy 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, John Malkovich, Tom Sturridge, Toni Colette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Digs, Billy Magnussen 

A satire set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce.

This is an awkward movie in the sense that it seeks to be a satire of the art world with some horror thrown in. The problem is that the mix doesn’t exactly come together. As it comes off more as humorous and the horror feels more ridiculous. Yet not funny. Yet the tone is there. Where each genre feels out of touch with the other while inhabiting the same space. Another film whose darkness feels More cruel.

As if anything it feels like most of the characters get what is coming for them. As most are unlikeable. So that you might actually route for their demise. As once the victims start to flow. It’s not really a question of who will die, only when. As The film is more of an ensemble movie even though some particular are more in leading roles. The rest are important to help tell the full story. As well as for more of them to end up as victims.

The film goes against the traditional by having plenty of well known actors be in the film. Which is usually against the rules of horror. So here it comes off more as a mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie as you watch them perish and wonder how. Which is where the movie cops out a little. For the emotional cruelty it shows on screen. It rarely shows any actual violence On screen. Usually in the aftermath or the reaction of a witness. So that it feels like a kind of comedy of errors.

The film can be shocking as you see it coming, But rarely actually see anything other then the aftermath. So that it almost feels random or unpredictable. Except one death that seems more fantastical then anything else in the movie.

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a spirited performance that allows for him to show range and believability in a more comedic character. Returning to work with writer director Dan Gilroy after making NIGHTCRAWLER together. Here he fits the role like a glove, but as dark as that film they made together. Is as light as this film feels maybe as most of it happens during the day and doesn’t feel as serious. Where as that film was dark with spots of humor. This film tries to be funny with points of darkness.

Zawe Ashton is notable as her character goes from meek and slowly climbs the ladder to become one of the worst predators. Even if her success is short lived.

This is another film where all these supernatural things happen and while we are given hints. It’s never quite explained. Which can work sometimes but when a film feels too detailed in all other manners it can also sometimes come across as either lazy or a cop out. Here it seems to fit in with the strange nature of the film.

This is a horror film that tries to dress itself up as something else more high class and refined. Which might also explain a certain character or characters in the film as they are not what they seem.

The film seems to ask what is truly art. Expensive as something to own and showcase or worth it as to what it says to you. How do you define it. The film seems to be trying to send a message as most of the artwork in the film seems bad. Yet all the character marvel over it. As everyone art killing those who own a piece or try to make money form it. As it or they keep it continuing to spread and slowly poison the world.

The main theme, one comes away with here is that you can’t escape your past or sins from it. Especially can’t escape if you are not truly sorry.

So that the film comes across as kind of FINAL DESTINATION film or an extended TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode mixed with a FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES episode.

That also seems like a diatribe against critics. Just as his character name is morph so does the character between opinions and sexuality as well as identity being a fan and then against the art once he learns of their dastardly deeds. Not to mention it perfectly explains Gyllenhaal’s ability as an actor

if it wasn’t for it being a kind of mash-up one doubts either would work separately. As they both never are quite as strong or biting as they aim or even In execution.

The film seems to reach for the opposite kind of world atmosphere both are dark but the atmosphere here has more scenery in the daylight and bright backgrounds and presentation as a comedy with dark underpinnings. Where as NIGHTCRAWLER was more dark drama with some humor at odd times.

Just like the art in the film the movie is presented the same way. Especially Initially as there was a buzz about it and looking at the cast all relented it would seem a safe bet and something to be talked about favorably. Then you actually see it and are either disappointed or like it. Though it will leave you with an opinion afterward so that you will still be.

The film isn’t all bad it actually feels like a kind of experiment that works in ways it’s not supposed to. As you constantly feel like there is something here and points to be made. Yet the film Never quite hits it on the head.

Grade: C+

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