Art missing in “Velvet Buzzsaw” and only a mess remains
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“No originality. No courage. My opinion.”
Who knew one of the lines spoken by Jake Gyllenhaal’s character would describe “Velvet Buzzsaw” so perfectly?
“Velvet Buzzsaw” is a 2019 satiric horror movie directed by Dan Gilroy and produced by Netflix. It was released Jan. 27 at the Sundance Film Festival, but the global premiere was Feb. 1.
It follows the Miami Beach art scene and its protagonist is Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal), a bisexual art critic that is in the height of his career. His new girlfriend, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), finds out that her neighbor, who died of unspecified causes, was an artist who never got to promote his art in any museum and it is actually unknown to the public. With the help of Morf and her boss, Rhodora (Rene Russo), they expose this lost art. The plot twist of the movie is that everyone who profits from this guy’s art dies in an artistic way.
To be honest, I was excited about this movie. The trailer was amazing. It exposed to us a world that is outlandish in every aspect you look at it. It shows all of the jobs that have to do with the museums and how the art is transported, how and why it is bought, and how the critiques affect the artist and (in some ways) the critics themselves.
That’s the cool thing. And even if the concept of the movie is not unique, it is well done and entertaining. It looks like the director wanted to do something that could resemble the “The Ninth Gate” by Roman Polanski, which has a book that is haunted. And I trusted the movie because of the director. Dan Gilroy, who is the same guy that did “Nightcrawler” and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” two unforgettable movies.
But the movie is just that, the trailer.
They put all of the best parts in the trailer, that’s how they made it seem so interesting. They even put the ending in there, so it makes you think there’s going to be more, but there’s nothing to it.
And the horror elements that were omitted from the trailer were just so bad, they had no logic. One of the deaths was unrealistic, and so vague, it got to the point where it was ridiculous. There were parts in the movie where I didn’t know if I was supposed to laugh or if I was supposed to be horrified.
And I know, it is a satirical movie. It is supposed to critique all of this eccentric lifestyle and to show people that the art and the artist wished should be more appreciated. But it failed there.
The characters are the opposite of positive. They are unlikable, apathetic, selfish, and self-centered. I didn’t even feel sad when most of them died, nor did they. This can be best exemplified in the funeral scene after the second death. Instead of being sad that their friend died, they critique the piano music that’s playing. They even say that it is sad that he was going to spend the eternity in something so ugly and ordinary as a casket. They even critique the color of the casket!
The intro is a mess. It is interesting, but it could confuse you if you are not paying that much attention. It does well in presenting the protagonist, but then they throw a bunch of names and stuff and all of these people show up. You are just kind of expected to know them, what they do, and their importance in the art world.
There was not enough backstory. Not for the victims or for the artist who died. Yes, the movie tells you that he was abused and that he used blood on his paintings. But why are the paintings killing people? How? What was the reason behind putting his own blood in there? It’s like the director assumed you already knew the reasons and just kept going with the movie as if we were all-knowing.
I don’t understand how a movie can be so bad with a cast that is full of good actors, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, and Natalia Dyer.
My opinion would have been different if this was a psychological thriller or a drama. If they had made it with the art being haunted, or even if it was just about people in the art world who are greedy and don’t have anything good to give, it would have been better. But no, the director decided that this was going to be a horror movie.
There were good parts of the movie too. But the story had too many black holes in it.
It is rated R in movie theaters, meaning it contains violence, language, and nudity, but probably a 15-year-old could watch it without problem.
However, if anyone wants to watch 1 hour and 52 minutes of nothing, then this is a movie for you.
–Feb. 13, 2019–
Relfa Amador is a member of the Raider Times staff.