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PARK CITY – Every filmmaker has a movie that gets away from them. After the phenomenal creative success of “Nightcrawler” and the slightly underrated “Roman J. Israel,” it looks like Dan Gilroy has hit that epic speedbump with “Velvet Buzzsaw” which debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. Luckily, all the actors pretty much keep their dignity intact because they at least think they know what Gilroy is going for (maybe).
The first five minutes of “Buzzsaw, admittedly, are sort of fun. We’re introduced to Gilroy’s cast of art world characters including critics, dealers and, on yeah, the artists themselves at Art Basil, the annual commercial art show in Miami. Of course, this is the worst LA for Miami since 2017’s “Rough Night,” but at least they are starting things off in the right place. There’s Morf (Jake Gyllenhaal), an independent art critic whose a flaming queen with a holier than thou attitude that makes him the no. 1 influencer on the scene (Gyllenhaal is one of the few actors to get a pass for this borderline stereotype because of, obviously, “Brokeback Mountain,” his supports the gay community and, frankly, I think I know what publicist he based his character on). Morf is fake friends with Rhodora (Rene Russo, nicely not too campy), the top dealer in Los Angeles who makes millions off artists such as icons including Piers (John Malovich, no clue why he’s here) and the street-art friendly Damrish (Daveed Diggs, wasted). Her competition is Jon (Tom Sturridge, fine in more ways than one), a former employee who is going after all her current clients. Then there’s Josephina (Zawe Ashton, star potential), the receptionist she’s grooming to eventually join her on the sales side. Oh, and she’s having an affair with Morf who is sort of gay...
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