‘Velvet Buzzsaw:’ Money and cursed art paint a strange spectacle

A still from ‘Velvet Buzzsaw,’ now out on Netflix. (Photo courtesy: Netflix)
Updated 02 February 2019

‘Velvet Buzzsaw:’ Money and cursed art paint a strange spectacle

CHENNAI: The art world is seedy. Money is a menace, and industry elites can be monsters. That is the overarching message to take from Dan Gilroy’s film “Velvet Buzzsaw,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 27, and had hopped over to Netflix by Feb. 1.

Gilroy made a big impression with his 2014 thriller “Nightcrawler,” which featured strong performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. Now, Gilroy has got the band back together, but the result is decidedly less captivating than their first collaboration. Where “Nightcrawler” was comically ghoulish, “Velvet Buzzsaw” lacks humor, is uptight and, at times, borders on the bizarre.

The opening draws us into the murkiness of the art world. Critic Morf Vendewalt (Gyllenhaal), makes or breaks careers in tandem with gallery owner Rhodora (Russo) and her assistant Josephina (Zawe Ashton), with whom he is in a relationship. Money, not art, is the name of the game, but things take a turn when the trio embark on the sale of artworks which, it transpires, their dead creator had insisted be destroyed. The film then veers into a maelstrom of death and the supernatural, featuring flesh-eating sculptures and cursed paintings.

This is not a standard horror movie. Though equal parts grisly and fantastical, it is more a sadistic satire on an art industry which, beneath a veneer of culture and civilization, is toxic to its core. Artists, dealers, critics and collectors circle each other in a macabre dance of wealth, power, back-stabbing and opportunity. But such a hungry industry swallows even its own in the end, as the protagonists discover to their cost. Yet overall, this is far from a dream follow-up from Gilroy, though a strong, tense score from Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders goes some way toward redeeming the film, giving it a well-paced tempo.

The Six: Arab and Muslim models in New York

Updated 16 February 2019

The Six: Arab and Muslim models in New York

DUBAI: Arab and Muslim models took the runways by storm at New York Fashion Week, which closed on Sunday in the Big Apple.

Bella Hadid

The Palestinian-American model was a smash during the Michael Kors show, which paid tribute to 1970s fashion, rocking a sparkling black blazer with feathers on the sleeves.

Gigi Hadid

The hectic supermodel lifestyle didn’t get in the way of Bella’s sister, who was seen on the streets in her retro runway hairdo after walking the Michael Kors show.

Halima Aden

This Muslim model turned heads when she closed the Christian Cowan show with an oversized black and neon pantsuit and a chain-link rhinestone hijab.

Noor Tagouri

This Libyan-American journalist took her confidence to the next level when she decided to put down her pen and walk the runway for US brand Rebecca Minkoff.

Nora Attal

The British-Moroccan model kicked off the week in elegant leatherwork by French brand Longchamp and walked the runway for Brandon Maxwell.

Shanina Shaik

The Australian model, who was raised a Muslim and whose father is half-Saudi, modelled for Vietnamese designer Nguyen Cong Tri.