Velvet Buzzsaw

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a gallery owner looking to make a buck in Dan Gilroy’s 'Velvet Buzzsaw'


Velvet Buzzsaw

Dan Gilroy directs Jake Gyllenhaal as an unhinged, self-obsessed profiteer who circles LA like a vulture in this excellent, high-stakes drama. Wait, sorry, that was 2014’s Nightcrawler—this is Velvet Buzzsaw, Gilroy’s latest venture that proves lightning doesn’t strike twice. The writer/director trades the paparazzi and thrills for art dealers and hacky satirical horror—and where Nightcrawler made your skin crawl, Velvet Buzzsaw will simply make you yawn. Gyllenhaal stars as the absurdly named Morf Vanderwalt, an icy, unfulfilled art critic whose hobbies include writing in the nude and blathering on about the burden of critique. When his new fling Josephina (Zawe Ashton) discovers piles of shocking original artwork in her newly dead neighbor’s apartment, Morf and gallery owner Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo) decide to turn a pretty profit by displaying and auctioning off the collection. Murderous haunting ensues. While the pulpy, by-the-numbers horror of the film’s second half has the potential to be something awfully fun, Velvet Buzzsaw’s overwritten and unfocused script sucks the joy out of even the most ridiculous of deaths. The talents of some truly remarkable actors, including Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Daveed Diggs, are lost to monotonous pseudo-intellectual dialogue. Malkovich suffers particular cruelty as Piers, an abstract artist who the film suggests is no longer valuable because he finally got sober. Ashton gets some killer outfits, and Gyllenhaal knows how to read a line, but that’s about it in the way of successes. (Streaming on Netflix.)

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