If you've seen Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo in Writer/Director Dan Gilroy's brilliant thriller "Nightcrawler" you'll be excited to know they've reunited to create another twisted bender called VELVET BUZZSAW.
Gyllenhall stars as flamboyant, brutally harsh art critic Morf Vandewalt (yes, even his name is pretentious). Morf makes or breaks artists with his razor sharp pen, making them millionaires overnight and occasionally driving them to suicide.
Morf's favorite gallery owner is Rhodora Haze (perfectly played by Rene Russo of "The Thomas Crown Affair"). Rhodora's new young assistant Josephina (terrific newcomer Zawe Ashton) is down on her luck when her reclusive upstairs neighbor dies. After the landlord tells her they are throwing all his art out the next day to clear out the dead man's apartment, she makes a late night visit and takes all the artwork to her place.
But there's something different about this art.
It seems to overwhelm everyone. Art critics, other artists, gallery owners, patrons all see genius.
Morf is inspired to write a book about the reclusive artist Vetril Dease. But the deeper he digs.......
I thought I was watching a dark comedy about the pretense of the Los Angeles scene, art galleries, wealth and pretense.
Then Gilroy took me in a very unexpected direction. Loved it.
Billy Magnussen (No Time To Die) is hilarious as a gallery worker who's one of the first to fall under the spell of Dease.
Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) steals every scene he's in as Damrish, a local artist. John Malkovich is twisted hilarity as an aging artist whose productivity has fallen to nil and the reliably great Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense) is a rival art consultant out for blood & cash.
Gyllenhaal and Gilroy seem to have a strong creative bond. Jake never plays characters as twisted as he does in Gilroy's films. His Morf has an amazing arc, living up to his name when it comes to everything from his sexual orientation to his priorities.
Gyllenhaal has the inate ability to create characters with a thousand quirks and eccentricities without falling into Johnny Depp territory. It's a balancing act that he pulls off perfectly. If you haven't seen Jake in "Nightcrawler" and "Southpaw", watch those two films first and then this performance. I can't think of anyone else that could come close to pulling off that range.
This won't be for everyone's taste, but I loved it. I had NO idea where it was going or even what genres it was going to drag me into, but I really enjoyed the journey.
Twisted, funny and weirdly fascinating, VELVET BUZZSAW slices & dices a bloody path to an A-.