Art is a beautiful thing. It is one of the few creations on the planet that can be beautiful to one individual and hideous to the next person. It is something that can be simple and elegant. It can have numerous depth and be set in a world of complexity. The nature of art is that it is subjective and wondrous. It is both small and intimate but large and vast in the same breath. The subject of art stretches among a multitude of mediums. Film, music, paintings, comics, literature – the list goes on and on. To the listener, viewer, speaker or reader that art can take on a life of its own. Inviting the audience to take a journey to another world, another place and another time. That’s exactly the journey, writer/director Dan Gilroy, is hoping to take you on with his latest film, Velvet Buzzsaw.
Buzzsaw is a story layered with an ensemble cast of an artist who finds success after the grave. Only there is a price for his success bestowed upon those who become infatuated with his work. Buzzsaw is lined with talent. Leading the impressive cast is Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, who both previously worked with Gilroy on 2014’s Nightcrawler. The cast is rounded out by Zawe Ashton, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs & Natalia Dyer of Stranger Things fame. This cast boasts strong talent on one hand and some unneeded complexity on the other hand. Gilroy has a habit of introducing several arcs within this movie, only to have those arcs either quietly fade out into the background or not bring them back at all. That’s honestly one of the biggest let downs of this thriller. Malkovich’s character in particular is simply white noise to the screen. His character, Piers, is an artist on the road to sobriety and aiming to find a new artistic voice with his newly freed mind. Or the character of Damrish, played by Diggs, yet another artist merely just background noise. Dyer & Collette also fall victim to this.
As I previously mentioned, the film is filled with strong performances. Gyllenhaal’s performance, for one, is a beautiful example of strength. Gyllenhaal, plays Morf, a respected art critic in the Los Angeles area. Upon the discovery of the art in question, by the late Ventril Dease, Morf starts to write a biography on the artist. What he comes to find out, allows Gyllenhaal the opportunity to turn in a truly remarkable, electrifying and emotionally driven performance. Upon the ensemble nature of Buzzsaw, Gyllenhaal stands out boldly and largely.
The film in and out itself is one of the most unique experiences. Serving as a mixture of satire, thriller, horror and black comedy. Gilroy creates something that allows him to enter new territory as a filmmaker and leave a lasting impression. Not to mention, the visual nature of the film upon its third act. This element of the movie which embraces the horror genre allows for some truly visually stunning pieces and moments. Buzzsaw definitely has a look to its cinematic nature. The tone of the film is one of the strongest points about it. Gilroy crafts a piece of satirical art that blends numerous genres marvelously when it is focused on direction.
Overall, Velvet Buzzsaw, is complex piece of cinematic art. Fueled by an ensemble cast of veteran actors including Gyllenhaal, Russo & Malkovich – it boasts strong talent. However, the catch is that not all of that strength is used wisely. The film sets up numerous arcs that either quickly fizzle out, bring nothing to the larger story or disappear altogether. Gyllenhaal boldly stands out and delivers a beautiful and emotionally driven performance. Buzzsaw does a great job at blending together the genres of horror, thriller and black comedy. Tied together beautifully and presented as a satire piece; allowing the film to craft a truly unique experience. The soul of the film is beautiful but the journey to get there can be a bit rocky.
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Credits: Velvet Buzzsaw is now streaming on Netflix! Velvet Buzzsaw is property of Netflix. We do not own nor claim any rights. Be on the look out for our full length episode later this month!