Monday, February 25, 2019

Velvet Buzzsaw - a gorefest satire of the art world

There aren't many films about the art world - but I watched the latest one at the weekend. Velvet Buzzsaw is an art world satire - or A slasher satire of art criticism - as one described it - which moves from the conspicuous consumption and unintelligible artspeak of art fairs, galleries, dealers and critics into the realms of slapstick horror and gore - and debuted on Netflix this month

I'm just going to take some selective comments from various reviews to give you an idea whether or not to start trying to find it on Netflix!

It's not a film to watch for the actors - although I did think a deadpan John Malkovich in a cameo role hit the nail on the literal (or metaphorical) head.
"This is a slaughterhouse"

I do however recommend you do NOT watch the trailer until you have seen the film
- but if you can't resist, here you are....

Velvet Buzzsaw Reviews

What's very odd is how few of the "art news" sites have covered it or reviewed it. I wonder why....
as a fairly angry satire of the art industry in 2019, the horror set-up of Velvet Buzzsaw is a fine delivery system. This is a horror movie about money and the commercialization of art in the same way that Get Out was a horror movie about gaslighting and liberal racism. (“Vitril Dease,” incidentally, is an anagram—DUN dun duuun!—of “Devil Satire.”)
From that perspective, the film is a real gas, with a better-than-average collection of riffs on art’s excesses and pretensions

If you want to see a clever actor having a great time, watch Jake Gyllenhaal in the opening minutes of “Velvet Buzzsaw.”
He plays Morf Vendewalt — just one of several eyebrow-raising character names — an intimidatingly influential and improbably affluent art critic, in his element as he half-strides, half-minces his way through an exhibition hall at Art Basel Miami Beach. He trades his designer shades for boldly framed eyeglasses, turns his gimlet eye on various sculptures and paintings and drops depth-charged bons mots.

Satire doesn’t have to be true to be fun. But behind the black comedy, Gilroy is deadly serious. “I would say it’s 100% accurate,” he says of Velvet Buzzsaw’s harsh portrayal of the art world. He cites recent HBO documentary The Price of Everything, which examines the financial extremes of art today. “There’s no question that price-fixing is going on.” In Velvet Buzzsaw, we see Toni Collette’s “art adviser” Gretchen strong-arm a museum into showing works her client owns in order to inflate their price. Gilroy claims this really happens. Does it? The only inaccuracy, I suspect, is that the museum needs to be bullied.
Gyllenhaal has fun as a sexually fluid critic, questioning himself and his place in the art world although nowhere near as much fun as Russo, who tears into her monstrous role with a toxic tenacity, rampaging through galleries and art parties with no remorse for anyone she tramples over.
Netflix’s new horror movie, directed by Dan Gilroy, is a morality tale about the commodification of art. ‘We don’t sell durable goods, we peddle perception – thin as a bubble,’ Haze says. Dease’s reputation is built up by Vanderwalt and his work is marketed by Haze, and pretty quickly everyone who has made money from Dease meets a grisly end.
As cultural lampooning, Velvet Buzzsaw is as clunking as the huge, Richard Serra-esque sculpture that at one point almost crushes Rhodora. The message –that the art world is venal and two-faced, populated by the over-sexed, and grotesquely insecure – lands like a sledgehammer through a windscreen.
It's hardly great art, but Dan Gilroy's Netflix-bound horror satire packs an undeniably trashy appeal as it skewers the snobbish world of galleries.

Velvet Buzzsaw is perhaps the first-ever art-world horror satire, but it has the feeling of a bawdy night at a mystery dinner or an anti-Establishment mummers play — and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible. Its colorful, uniformly narcissistic ensemble enter and exit in fabulous outfits as they weave a tangled web of money, sex, and influence, but we know we’re really just there to see who dies and how brutally.
The movie also gets decent chunks of the art world right. “We peddle perception, thin as a bubble,” Rhodora says, explaining why she’s unloading an artist’s work before bad news leaks out. “There’s a tax issue, and my client wants [his art] exhibited immediately,” Gretchen barks at a museum director. “Everything is on reserve,” says a smirking dealer, bluffing at an opening.
as the man who made the movie said
“I’m trying to say that art is more than a commodity,” Gilroy says of his film. “It’s been over-commodified.”
My other half says this is the last time he lets me decide what we're watching on Netflix without him knowing that it's about. However I rate it by the fact he stayed awake all the way through - despite the disparaging comments at the end!

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