Dan Gilroy, director of the acclaimed, Oscar nominated thriller, Nightcrawler, returns with his latest trek into literal madness with art horror, aptly named Velvet Buzzsaw. Apt for the simple fact that one thing can be more than what meets the eye. If given a chance, people can show different sides to themselves; something as lush and inviting as velvet but ultimately coarse and hazardous like, you guessed it, a buzzsaw.
This is one of those films that I didn’t completely understand the underlying reasons for what was transpiring. I understood that the deaths of the characters were meaningful but to what significance beyond something as mundane and cliché as a curse I wasn’t fully understanding. After a bit of research and a rewatch I understand the purpose, the underlying message, the intent and commentary of why the format of art was chosen as the catalyst for such graphic vengeance. I now understand why this thing these people loved so intently was turning on them. That’s exactly the point right there, they didn’t love it, they loved the thought of gaining from the blood, sweat, and tears of true artists who in some cases literally put themselves into their work, only to be taken advantage of so completely by those who cannot or have chosen not to do, but rather than the old adage of “those who can’t do, teach” these people spread nothing but disdain and furthering anguish. Now, the pain they exploit so profusely is turning against them in violent fashion. Turn on the purity and purpose of art and the art will turn on you.
The best advice I can give anyone about to watch Velvet Buzzsaw is first: keep an open mind, give it a chance. Second: Understand that everything shown and said is purposeful, nothing is without meaning. Third: Never underestimate a bit of post-movie research and a second viewing, it can completely open the film in ways you can’t imagine. I have watched numerous films that I hated upon first viewing, did my research, rewatched and completely fell in love having experienced a different film entirely. Technically speaking you can only see a film for the first time once, but if you peel the layers, if the film is in-depth enough, you can view a film for the second time, as if it’s the first and gain a new perspective on something you thought you once had figured out.
The fantastical nature in which these characters die are such so that they stand out, they are memorable. To die of a gunshot wound in Los Angeles, unfortunately, isn’t newsworthy these days. I hate that fact but it’s true. A man literally being consumed by artwork however is certainly noteworthy. Hell, it’s downright nightmarish, which again, is the point. The contrast of such absurdity against the very normal L.A. is much like the white walls of the museums of which these paintings and art exhibits find themselves observed and judged. Consider this the turning of the tables, the judged now hold the gavel. Let’s hope you haven’t been found wanting.
Jake Gyllenhaal rejoins his Nightcrawler director delivering yet another performance that manages to consume the actor into character, losing sight of Gyllenhaal and refocusing only to see his character, Morf Vandewalt, having taken over the actor. As he does with every character he embodies, Gyllenhaal once again demonstrates his seemingly limitless abilities as an actor. I believe he is one of the greatest actors of this modern day and age. No matter how silly the character, he gives everything he has to bring them to life. Also jumping ship from Nightcrawler to velvety goodness is Rene Russo, wife of director Dan Gilroy. Her character is Rhodora Haze, nicknamed Velvet Buzzsaw. She is the ultimate representation of everything that is wrong within this exclusive world of art dealing and showcasing. She is the retribution sought by the artwork so perverted by soulless people, like Ms. Buzzsaw herself.
I think most can watch this and find the positives simply from viewing what they see as a silly horror film. I can see people damning it, calling it superfluous, aimless garbage. I see it as something fun but never silent about the message beneath the surface of it all. I can see what I perceive to be its true nature and for that reason, Velvet Buzzsaw goes in the win column. I think a movie about art, such a divisive medium, being viewed and interpreted in so many ways is poetic and akin to the point of the movie people either hated so strongly, enjoyed so completely, or just didn’t understand, for better or worse. If that isn’t art, I don’t know what is.
Rated R For: violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Runtime: 112 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs
Directed By: Dan Gilroy
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Streaming on Netflix now
Check out the trailer below:
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