Velvet Buzzsaw looked, from the trailer, like Netflix has knocked it out of the park again, as it teams up Nightcrawler (one of the best films of its year) with its effervescent star Jake Gyllenhaal, with his co-star, Rene Russo (also Freejack) and its writer/director Dan Gilroy (Kong: Skull Island as well as the awesome Freejack).
Josephina (Zawe Ashton) is a failing, struggling artist and needs to up her game, but how to get rich quick? By chancing across a stack of artwork by mysterious artist, Dease (Alan Mandell), that’s going begging and which no-one else has ever seen before, but supernatural forces are at work.
Jake Gyllenhaal, who rarely puts a foot wrong, is effeminate art critic Morf Vandewalt, his opinion often being able to make or break an artist’s success. He’s stunned by the artwork finds, as is former artist Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), and the title of this film is the pseudonym she went by at that time. She has clearly made a mint over those past years, though, as she has the most awesome house ever. In addition, Josephina and Morf are former lovers, so can she twist him round her little finger, even though he’s now in a relationship with Ed (Sedale Threatt Jr)?
There’s also a mysterious artwork on display known as the Sphere. Put your arm in and you’ll feel something you’ve never felt before, whether sensual or painful. Elsewhere, art sellers and gallery owners are getting dollars signs in their eyes over the mysterious Dease paintings, and if you profit from it, the spirits within the paintings might come out and kill you…
After a strong first third, though, Velvet Buzzsaw starts feeling a little directionless. It’s always interesting, but a bit too daft, as various people are getting bumped off and while you don’t really care when they die, if you treat it like a ’70s-style horror thriller, it’s certainly worth a watch in that respect.
There are a couple of neat deaths in there, and some spectacular special FX sometimes involved, such as one involving paint. However, you will be checking the time quite often inbetween the action.
If does have a surprisingly good cast, though, even if they’re mostly in brief supporting roles, such as John Malkovich (Bird Box), Billy Magnussen (US Callister: Black Mirror), Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), Peter Gadiot (13 Hrs), Tom Sturridge (Journey’s End), Toni Collette (Wanderlust, alongside Zawe Ashton), while Natalia Dyer really has the geek thing going on as Collette’s assistant, Coco.
Finally, it also made me laugh when John Malkovich sighed, “I never should have quit drinking”.
Velvet Buzzsaw is out now on Netflix.
Running time: 113 minutes
Format: 1.85:1 (DXL RAW (8K))
Released: February 1st 2019
Director: Dan Gilroy
Producer: Jennifer Fox
Screenplay: Dan Gilroy
Music: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
Morf Vandewalt: Jake Gyllenhaal
Rhodora Haze: Rene Russo
Josephina: Zawe Ashton
Jon Dondon: Tom Sturridge
Gretchen: Toni Collette
Coco: Natalia Dyer
Damrish: Daveed Diggs
Piers: John Malkovich
Bryson: Billy Magnussen
Dease: Alan Mandell
Cloudio: Mig Macario
Gita: Nitya Vidyasagar
Ed: Sedale Threatt Jr
Hoboman: Mark Steger
Ben: Gregory Cruz
Jim: Rob Brownstein
Ray Ruskinspear: Marco Rodríguez
Ricky Blane: Peter Gadiot (uncredited)
Previously on DVDfever:
Velvet Buzzsaw looks to me like Netflix has knocked it out of the park again, as it teams up Nightcrawler (one of the best films of its year) with its effervescent star Jake Gyllenhaal, with his co-star, Rene Russo (also Freejack) and its writer/director Dan Gilroy (Kong: Skull Island as well as the awesome Freejack).
A series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, and after Zawe Ashton (Guerilla) takes the credit, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.
This looks ace and I can’t wait to see it!
The film also stars John Malkovich (Bird Box), Billy Magnussen (US Callister: Black Mirror), Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), Peter Gadiot (13 Hrs), Tom Sturridge (Journey’s End), Toni Collette (Wanderlust, alongside Zawe Ashton) and Natalia Dyer.
Velvet Buzzsaw is released on Netflix and select cinemas on February 1st.
Check out the trailer below:
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.