If you’re looking for a gloriously weird movie that’s a little funny, a little scary, a little tongue-in-cheek, and a little masterful, check out the Netflix original film called Velvet Buzzsaw.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Morf Vandewalt, a prestigious art critic with the world at his feet. He’s in love with Josephina, played by Zawe Ashton. Josephina is trying to climb her way to the top of the art gallery industry as she works for Rene Russo’s Rhodora Haze. Yes, these names are fantastic.
After her neighbor dies, Josephina discovers that the deceased had an apartment full of original art. Morf declares the man a modern day master and urges Josephina to sell it through Haze’s gallery.
Soon, though, strange things begin to happen involving the departed’s art, and that’s when the scares begin.
Velvet Buzzsaw is a whole lot of things, but it’s also never just one thing. Well, it is one thing — entertaining. I have to be honest, this movie kept me engaged from start to finish. It’s so strange that it’s flat-out unpredictable. Is it good? I thought so, but I wouldn’t dare to argue with someone who told me they didn’t like it. You certainly have to be in the right mood for Velvet Buzzsaw. It’s definitely one of the more unique films that I’ve seen of late.
I will say this though, Jake Gyllenhaal absolutely disappeared in his role as Morf Vadewalt. His performance alone made this film worth watching. With incessant fidgeting, a biting sense of humor, an impeccably odd sense of fashion, and a mesmerizing speech cadence, Morf leaped off the screen. Though there’s no hero in this movie, Morf is as close as we get (which is not very close).
I also loved seeing Rene Russo again. Her character, Rhodora Haze, once belonged to a punk rock band called–you guessed it–Velvet Buzzsaw. Russo got to really strut her stuff playing an entirely unlikable, manipulative, evil businesswoman who gets a thrill in taking no prisoners.
By the way, there are also very fun performances in this movie from John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Daveed Diggs, and Natalia Dryer (from Stranger Things).
In the end, Velvet Buzzsaw seems to exist in a world that has existed for quite some time. The characters all have history with one another, and other than some fleeting references, the movie is not overly concerned with catching you up. Nor is the film terribly worried about explaining what the hell is going on. Once the art starts killing people, it doesn’t follow any particular rules or adhere to any specific logic. If you buy the dead artist’s work, sell his work, look at his work, or even find yourself near his work … your life is in grave danger. Heck, sometime’s it’s not even his art that gets in on the act. (Did anyone else love Hoboman? He’s the real star of this movie.)
If you’re looking for some inimitable performances, a wondrously quirky plot, and a bizarrely good time, I totally recommend Velvet Buzzsaw. It’s got to be the best of what it is … I’m just still not sure what it is.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s Dr. Nekros e-book series HERE)