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|Index||15 reviews in total|
I'll admit that it didn't take much persuasion for me to go and see
Boogie Woogie, but even though I admit part of me went to see boobs, I
also went for the all-star cast and interesting and unique concept.
It's a film with a Hollywood cast set in present day London with a
focus on the art scene of the city; exploring people like artists and
collectors. It's a refreshingly unique and modern set-up for a film and
The story itself focuses on a painting called the Boogie Woogie by an artist named Mondrian. It's currently in the ownership of Alfred Rhinegold (Christopher Lee) and his wife Alfreda (Joanna Lumley). Their fortune is declining and so Alfreda decides to put the painting up for sale. Among those interested are aggressive gallery owner and ambi-sexual Art Spindle (Danny Huston) and the deep-pocketed collector Bob Maclestone (Stellan Skarsgard). Bob is married to Jean (Gillian Anderson) who he frequently cheats on with his secretaries and assistants. Beth Freemantle (Heather Graham) works for Spindle but manages to get away thanks to her intimate relationship with Bob.
Then there's gallery girl Paige (Amanda Seyfried), whose financier dad bagged a fortune and helped launch his daughter before being caught and imprisoned for unspecified fraud. Also inhabiting the decadent art world of the film is emerging young painter Jo (Jack Huston), who snorts coke and beds the horny older wives of extravagant collectors. The final character of note is Elaine (Jamie Winstone). Elaine is a lesbian art student with a fondness for cocaine and Heather Graham's boobs.
As you can tell, it's a massive cast of extremely colourful characters full of drugs and sex. All the actors do a terrific job thanks to their sharp acting and also the witty dialogue provided by the interesting script.
The problem with having such a huge cast is that it's a bit hard to keep track of things. The main plot strand seems to be Lumley's character trying to sell the painting, but then all the other characters seem to have their own stories as well which need to be fitted in. As great as the characters are, there simply isn't enough time to develop them enough to make some of them worthwhile. Some of the sex also seems a bit forced, the lesbian subplot with heather Graham and Jamie Winstone is hot and all but is it really needed (my heart says yes, my brain says no)? The director Duncan Ward is clearly at home though as some research led me to discover that he has history in the art world. He manages to make it very compelling and keeps the slightly bewildering but also interesting plot enjoyable. He is most definitely in his element and it shows; the film looks great.
Boogie Woogie is a very entertaining film. The concept is unique, the cast is excellent, the script and dialogue are very amusing and it looks great. The director also puts in a fine shift. Unfortunately, there's just too much going on; it's a brave and daring effort to release a film so different and props to the cast for signing up to it. If you can keep your head around all the plot strands then the great performances and script will keep you entertained.
Boogie Woogie is a refreshing look at a subject which has hereto been
dealt with in a clichéd and stilted way. Being involved in the art
world myself this is the most accurate rendering of it I have ever
Danny Huston is brilliant at the slippery but charming art dealer Art Spindle who delicately spins his collectors into buying and selling works or art.
Christopher Lee is the cantankerous old man who refuses to sell his Boogie Woogie Mondrian while his wife Joana Lumley tries desperately to make him see sense.
Gillian Anderson is particularly fabulous as the spoilt collectors wife who is having an affair with Jack Huston. Jamie Winston is an ambitious lesbian artist who is determined to make it at any cost including seducing Heather Graham to have a show in her gallery.
Amanda Seyfried climbs the greasy pole of the art world in spectacular fashion. There is a particularly funny scene between Gillian Anderson and Charlotte Rampling inter cut with Stellan Skarsgard and his lawyer carving up the assets for their divorce.
The film reminded me of Altman with many stories interwoven around a central theme. The script is both horrific and funny. How art is manufactured, exhibited, dealt with and abused as well as worshiped could not be more on the money.
It is worth mentioning the art in the film which has been chosen by Damien Hirst. There are paintings by among others John Currin, Paul Fryer and Michael Craig Martin. This is a must for any art student wanting to know about how the art world works.
If you enjoy watching bad people go down in flames, this film is for
you. First-time director Duncan Ward shows a deft hand managing
multiple story threads set against the malodorous intestinal cavity of
the contemporary art world, while John Mathieson's photography,
pleasing to the eye as always, works splendidly with the up-tempo jazz
phrasings of composer Janusz Podrazik.
A sterling ensemble, led by Stellan Skarsgard, Gillian Anderson and Danny Huston, keeps us guessing and amused as lives and careers unravel. Special kudos to Jaime Winstone, who in the role of a fiercely ambitious performance artist looking to carve a name for herself, delivers the film's strongest performance. We are treated also to appearances by Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley and Alan Cumming -- the film's most likable characters -- whose upright aims provide elegant counterpoint to the opposing riffraff inhabiting the story.
The film's only noticeable weak spot lies in the characters of Beth, played with limited effect by Heather Graham, and Joany, played by Meredith Ostrum, who seems to be impersonating a tree. Otherwise, a fine independent film. It will be interesting to see what Ward comes up with next.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With its many stars and connections eminently qualified to speak about
the art scene, I was well-primed to enjoy Boogie Woogie to the utmost.
It's based on a successful novel by author and screenwriter Danny Moynihan. The movie is a sexy black comedy set amid the hustle-bustle of fine art acquisition, dealers and galleries with concomitant affairs, in contemporary London. Characters slyly draw on real people. Critics and art experts have consequently been falling over themselves to show their knowledge of closely-linked actual persons and events. Whatever the disclaimer says.
Boogie Woogie has gone to great lengths for authenticity. Real masterpieces are cleverly interwoven with fictions. Even the title work is so closely allied to the real thing that it makes you wonder. (Boogie Woogie is the name of a series of prized paintings by Mondrain, and the central artwork in the film is an accurately fictionalised piece, only destroyed afterwards at the request of Mondrain's Estate).
Dealer and gallery owner, Art Spindle (Danny Huston), wants 'Boogie-Woogie.' A painting he covets above all else. Its current owner, Alfred Rhinegold (played by Christopher Lee), is desperately ill. Rhinegold's wife (Joanna Lumley) wants to up the ante by encouraging rival bidders. Especially Bob Maclestone, a collector incisively played by Stellan Skarsgard. The plot is further complicated by everyone jumping into bed with temptingly wrong people and for deliciously wrong reasons. The BBFC, after a spoiler alert, goes into not inconsiderable detail over the somewhat singular sexual content. So I won't. Fans of funky erotic subject matter have no fear: you shall find out for yourselves.
Boogie Woogie brims over with great actors. Nobody needs to be ashamed of performances here, with or without clothes. They are cast in great roles and throw themselves into performances in a way that belies their love of art and desire for the picture to succeed. And so if its reach is slightly greater than its grasp, I nevertheless feel a bit uncomfortable explaining why it doesn't put woogie back into my boogie.
Comedy, like abstract art, is to an extent subjective. But Boogie Woogie tilts at both windmills without embracing either. 'Ripping the lid off the art world,' is a great and noble concept. But the result here, for one reason or another, is uneven, woefully ill-judged, and a squandering of talent that borders on sacrilege. Gags aren't very funny, it doesn't arouse our passion for art, and most of the 'in' references are pointlessly unintelligible to anyone not already familiar with finer details of the respective power-brokers' sex lives.
Danny Moynihan has relocated the story of his novel from New York to London: this is where some of the problems arise. Lines sound inauthentic, unconvincing, as if desperately trying to persuade us that this is Real Cockney Art-World. Subtler tones of any backstory also seem damaged. Mondrian's last painting, for instance, 'Broadway Boogie Woogie,' represents the restless motion of Manhattan. Its grid-like patterns suggest New York's ordered chaos. It has a prominent yellow which is the yellow of New York taxicabs. And a metaphor to jazz in the title echoes the movement and rhythm that are seen as analogous to Mondrian's painted marks. There are even deeper studies about the art referred to, which relate to the nature of perception, but the film seems to have lost these at the word go. Any eponymous substance has long been abandoned before such thoughts could kick in.
We are, however, treated to a constant (and at times intrusive) jazz soundtrack. And much arty chat. All delivered at a speed guaranteed not to detract from the sight of Gemma Atkinson (or Gillian Anderson) treating us to glimpses of their more tangible assets. As both Moynihan and director Duncan Ward have been intimately involved with art, not to mention Damien Hirst being present as consultant, one might be forgiven for wanting a little more meat on this bone than provided by the purely, if you'll excuse me, pornographic aspects of such a pun.
Joanna Lumley reprises some of the flavour from her hit TV series, Absolutely Fabulous. The familiar clash of taste and gobbiness is in full flow. But whereas Ab Fab scored with visual gags and highly developed comic characters, Boogie Woogie's attempt to lampoon style-over-substance seems injudicious and hollow. Whereas Mondrian's actual work bristles with luminous colour, the film tries too hard to be bright and ends up lacklustre. In a word, inadequate to the task. Leading parts are not charismatic enough to command or sustain appeal for the full hour and a half, even with such great actors. Timing of jokes seems rehearsed rather than spontaneous. The overall effect is ironically artificial.
One of the best things about Boogie Woogie is that it might inspire you, as it inspired me, to read the original novel. The book is not everyone's cup of tea but it is undoubtedly original, well-written, quite often shocking, and does everything the movie set out to do and doesn't.
Strangely, for a film I have to admit I didn't like very much, I am strongly drawn to watching it again. I want to imagine it as it could have been. Should have been. A film that makes us care about art. Laugh about the shenanigans. Feel shocked or excited by sex and drugs and jazz. And I desperately, desperately, want to see a note at the end-credits that reassures me: "No actors were harmed in the making of this train wreck." Boogie Woogie is an oddity. Not quite bad enough to be good, and not good enough to wholeheartedly recommendable. But, like a painting where the oils contained the wrong amount of linseed, the effort that has gone into its ill-fated brushstrokes is nevertheless sadly commendable.
A comment on the pretentious and wealthy but ruthless world of art and
art dealers, where it is difficult to tell if it is taking itself
seriously or not. The plot is not just one paper-thin story, but in
fact seems to be several strands that randomly inter-connect with each
other, all loosely revolving around the painting from which the film
gets its name. Numerous characters seem to want to purchase the
painting, while the owner refuses to sell, even to ward off financial
ruin, as he clings to his 'most prized possession'. What follows is the
ensemble bickering over numerous pieces of art in several plot lines,
but the attempt at a multi-character multi-strand plot a la Magnolia
only comes across as a pale imitation - or art merely imitating life!
The characters all have different roles in the high-end art world of London, with dealers, artists and gallery owners all vying with each other, backstabbing each other - and sleeping with each other -to demonstrate their various arty credentials. Unfortunately, with nearly all of them having more money than they know what to do with other than spend it on the latest ridiculously over-priced 'masterpiece', very few of them appear to have any redeeming features, leaving barely a single character for the audience to actually like.
Quite the ensemble cast lends the piece considerable artistic weight - including Gillian Anderson, Stellan Skarsgard, Heather Graham, Joanna Lumley, Danny Huston, Alan Cumming, Charlotte Rampling and the venerable Christopher Lee, who all serve to highlight the film's seemingly lofty art house ambitions. Most of the cast do their jobs adequately but without really standing out from the cluttered cast list, although Danny Huston's attempt at scenery-chewing and film-stealing is little more than grating, with the pseudo-evil chuckles and 'god-damn its!' only missing a scene chewing on a stogie and bacon sandwich to make his performance any more hammy.
The plot (such as it is) manages to be both dully pretentious and simultaneously ludicrous; even the title itself adds to the film's uncertain nature - is it a serious comment or a satire? It's rather difficult to tell, and with very little in the way of narrative thrust, the film just meanders seemingly aimlessly along. The numerous plot strands are occasionally difficult to keep track of, It's a good job most of the cast are quite pretty - better works of art than the paintings and statues that they squabble over.
Overall, rather a load of pretentious, self-important twaddle.
Any film about the modern art world should be cynical, boorish, ironic,
sarcastic and angry - and Boogie Woogie does this. It is irreverent and
aims to show the shallowness and the intrigue; but fails.
What we get is kind of a mix of different threads, it's hard just to see why she's sleeping with him, who is sleeping with her and she's sleeping with her (too) etc; we get video installations and linear stories at the same time, and it's meant to be about voyeurism etc; but with a great cast, it just fails to push to the ridiculous and aims instead to be a film about relationships, all of them ugly and meaningless.
The women come off far better than the men here, and Joanna Lumley in particular, otherwise there's just no gravitas here whatsoever, which may be the point, but it makes for very shallow viewing.
All in all, just unenjoyable, only occasionally is the humor really on spot and truly spiteful, mostly it's just ranting or something....
If art and relationships are your number one thing you might enjoy this - we couldn't find either here....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all, I have never read the book; this review is based purely
on a number of viewings of the film.
Reasons to like this film:
1. Simon McBurney (Robert Freign). The only character worth caring about, mainly because he does not have a lot to say.
Reasons to dislike it (or at least, reasons I was disappointed):
1. The characters, apart from covering a good range of stereotypes, are insufferably pretentious, irritating and unsympathetic (in particular the characters of Beth, Art and Jo). From start to finish I could not bring myself to care what happened to them. Everyone is gay or lesbian, everyone is sleeping with at least two different people at any one time, and everyone is either a rich art dealer/buyer or a struggling "artist". It gets boring very quickly.
2. The script reads like a check-list of clichés. Lines and situations are casually thrown in without, it seems, even an attempt at originality. An example is a scene that takes place in a posh restaurant. Two of the richer characters are served by a "foreign" (read Eastern European) waitress who does not understand, conveniently setting it up for the lines: "What is that? Hungarian?" -- "Polish, I think". The entire screenplay feels forced, contrived and timeworn.
The storyline, while it appears to be making a clear point - to wit, "the art world" is shallow and requires a hard heart to handle it - does little more than go around in circles repeating the same message in an all too obvious way.
3. It seems as though the creators were unsure about whether to make the film in a documentary style or otherwise, and got stuck somewhere in the middle. Therefore the film feels disjointed, as if whole chunks of action and repetitive dialogue were filmed and then thrown together in a random order.
All in all it is disappointing, because one look at the cast for this film - while the subject matter might have been interesting and dramatic if better handled - and you would be forgiven for assuming that Boogie Woogie ought to be better. Unfortunately, a choice cast is completely wasted.
How can you dislike this piece of cinema, I have recently become quite
depressed with British Cinema, I have sat through hours and hours of
mediocre films portraying how rubbish life in England is. ( that have
some how received critical acclaim, Because some middle aged gout
ridden man, who lives at home with his mother and twelve cats decides
life really is rubbish and we should only watch films that say just
that.) Furthermore if I have to watch another film set on a council
estate or any other "Grey lens" rubbish I am ether going to kill myself
But too my surprise when I went to see "Boogie Woogie" it was as though the clouds had parted and I was met with a burst of colour, a witty script and for once a story and theme that inspires me. Enabling me to leave the cinema with a smile and a springing my step, wanting to live in the art world.
To be brief This Film has some features that make it a great film.
* A great cast with some great standout performances, but in all a great ensemble performance.
* Beautifully lit and shot - The DP John Mathieson who did "Gladiator"
* A story that mixes Art, Sex and Money
* Some incredibly sad moment then instantly followed with some brilliant jokes and one liners.
* so all in all a Fun and fast paced up tempo film.
That makes going to see British cinema at long last a joy again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Featuring a de-fanged Christopher Lee (in one of his final roles) as a stubborn but dying owner of a Mondrian painting worth up to $30 million, and Mulder-less Gillian Anderson (whose files here are more likely to be triple than single "X"), along with the passing of the roller skates from infamous BOOGIE NIGHTS "roller girl" Heather Graham to on-screen skating newbie Amanda Seyfried, director Duncan Ward's ensemble flick BOOGIE WOOGIE has features bound to intrigue nearly everyone. Modern art credits for movie usage include Jake & Dinos Chapman, Gary Hume, Constantin Brancusi, Banksy, Gavin Turk, Danny Moynihan, Jessica Craig Martin, Faile, Sarah Lucas, Michael Landy, Robert Gordon McHaig III, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Jim Lambie--all curated by Damien Hirst. Worth the price of admission is the verbal deconstruction of a divorcing couple's collection, including pieces by Picasso, Smith, Kelly, Judd, Flavin, Brancusi, Warhol, Beuys, Hockney, Magritte, Struth, Giacometti, Lucas, Katz, Mapplethorpe, Bacon, Emin, Currin, Landy, Hirst, Rusche, Barney, Dogan, and "the Jew in the library," accomplished through inter-cut parallel scenes between the wife and her thrice-divorced confidante, counterpointed by the conversation between the husband and his divorce lawyer. Plus there's nude chicks.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gillian Anderson gives a luminous performance. The only time I laughed
out loud in the movie is when she tries to pronounce "I want a
Apart from that the film, although it tries to give us the sarcastic delight of lecherous emphasis on lecherous subjects, does not succeed in juggling its elements, it rather passes form one stance to the other and does not wind up its end quite well.
There are worthy passages, from listening to Cristopher Lee playing with accent, to Rampling's trivializing "I'm famished!" just to give two minute examples, but it seems the film draws its moral from the art it exemplifies. The moment poor Paige (Sayfried) discovers the black surprise of her heart transplanted in one of Hirst's formaldehyde cubes and bursts in tears, we do not so much nod our heads in agreement as recognize the grisly limitations of such artistic nihilism (by that I also mean the gross gesture of offering such a thing). That there is an ersatz classic cautionary tone in the film it makes it seem more of a construct, where it should benefit from a more carefree tone like in that scene of sweeping irony in "The Big Lebowski" where Marianne Moore - was casting Anderson inspired by this, by their somewhat similar looks? - attacks the canvas flying.
And please restrict those jazzy soundtracks that signal pop englishness. They are as overused as Alan Cumming's mannerisms.
All they can do is give the film a more dour look, and not an intimate look on dour matters.
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