Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Poster

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Ambitious, But Underwhelming
kjproulx1 February 2019
Ever since the release of Nightcrawler back in 2014, Dan Gilroy is a director that I've wanted to keep a sharp eye on. I'll admit I wasn't a big fan of his film Roman J. Israel Esq., but I was still impressed by his talent, enough to continue watching his future projects. Velvet Buzzsaw is his latest work that he both wrote and directed and while I did enjoy some of it, this director only has one home run in my book, which still remains to be Nightcrawler. Some viewers may find this film to be pretentious and others may find it elegant, which will stir up a great conversation, but I personally found that it fell somewhere in the middle. If you're a fan of a unique premises, you may want to check this one out.

There isn't really a main character here, but it could be argued that the central focus of the film is on Jake Gyllenhaal's Morf. After the passing of an elderly man, his paintings are discovered and put on display for all to see. To their surprise, these paintings have minds of their own and they begin to seek revenge against those who study them in the wrong ways. Personally, the concept of this film intrigued me upon first glance, but after watching the film unfold, it felt like more of a way of finding viewers for the movie as a whole. The bizarre turn this film takes didn't feel earned by the time the film concludes. With a strong first act and a weird second act, this movie lost all potential throughout the third.

I must admit that this is one of the better assembled casts I've seen in a long time. From powerhouses like Jake Gyllenhaal and Toni Collette to the always outstanding performances given by both John Malkovich and Rene Russo, down to stellar newcomers like Natalia Dyer and Daveed Diggs, I found myself engaged no matter what was happening throughout an uninteresting scene, due to the fact that they're clearly all devoted. If for nothing else, this cast believed they were making something terrific and it really shows in each and every one of their performances.

Sadly, as I mentioned, this film as a very weak third act that went in many ways that felt easy for the movie to go. Aside from some very cool visuals and great cinematography throughout the entire film, the story, in retrospect, kind of went nowhere. I could see where director Dan Gilroy was trying to go and the final scene of the film definitely showcases an interesting future for the story, but I wasn't engaged in the story enough to care all that much. The characters invested me from the very beginning and the twist pulled me in even more, but the movie unravels in a way that frankly bored me.

In the end, Velvet Buzzsaw is an ambitious film in terms of the notions that it tries to explore and wow its audience with, but I was underwhelmed by it as a whole. I definitely commend the technical aspects of it and the set-up was very well done, so I can recommend it to film buffs, but I truly don't believe this film will find a home outside of that circle. I could be wrong, but I feel this movie is for a very niche audience. Velvet Buzzsaw is an impressively ambitious film that feels a little wasted by the end.
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It had great potential but fell short
jeffreycarephotography2 February 2019
The idea in the film is fantastic but didn't seem to dive deep enough into the story and lacks impact. With most of the characters being pretenious, I was overwhelmed with the use of metaphores and foreshadowing, it became expected throughout the film but doesn't hold enough significance. An origin film on Dease would seem more interesting to me after watching this film.
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You can't sell the Beach! Let alone hang it on someone's wall (and that's what the movie is about)
tomsuthblack2 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The movie is an ambitious attempt that suffered from one major problem. The movie's great ambition is to define art, true art that expresses a true human experience, and to differentiate it from overpriced items collected by dumb rich people who wish to buy taste and sophistication with money. The movie's major problem is that it failed to translate this message into a comprehensible cinematic experience which could reach, and be enjoyed by, the largest possible audience. What A pity . Let me try to show you how this happened:

The story here is a fantasy based on an interesting magical assumption: What if the experience reflected by each and every work of art becomes real, and becomes felt by those who look at it. What if art becomes "so moving" that it actually moves before your eyes, vibrant with life?

What if the monsters on a painting come alive to reflect the suffering that led the artist to draw them? What if the pain, fear, melancholy, menace and agony reflected by a work of art all become physical and materialized?

The only factor that would allow you to survive and keep your sanity in such case would be the honesty of reflection, honesty of art. Any pretense in representing your feelings can devour you, any pretense in assuming you can reciprocally understand other people's feelings through their art can turn you to a prey for their torments. You can only be safe in such conditions if you stick to the real feelings. Only then can you create real art.

To do that, you need to create your art by yourself for yourself, not as a posh pretentious craftsman catering to the taste of a market, but as a playful child, messing around on a beach, making circles in the sand for no one but himself to see. An impressive concept executed in such an enigmatic way that is guaranteed not to be understood by almost everyone who watches it! What a waste of excellent acting and amazing cinematography.

However, one can always assume that maybe the director was just a playful child, making circles on the sand, not really expecting anyone to enjoy watching him do so!
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Rendanlovell1 February 2019
After Nightcrawler Dan Gilroy is a figure that I will permanently be interested in. Then came along Roman J Israel which was a frustrating experience. There was a lot of good in it but it seemed to relish being slow and unnecessarily wordy. Now we have Velvet Buzzsaw. A movie so plain, I had absolutely no response to. There is barely enough here to be upset about and nearly nothing to be wowed by. It's just so...bland. You'd think Jake gyllenhaal would be the main character but he isn't. In fact, no one is. It's Totally confused, strangely muddled, and tonally messy. It was almost as if the film was passing through my head as soon as it went in.
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If you hurt art, art will hurt you back.
Spookylicious2 February 2019
I dived in with an open and curious mind and I've been entertained and had a good time.

It's an eerie story regarding some art pieces that shouldn't have been taken. Whose the perfect victim for a cursed object that kills whoever profits by greed from it? Greedy profesionals from the "chic" art-gallery bussiness.

An artist pours their experience, soul, emotions and illusion into a piece, and when all that is just treated for the "chic" and "popular" value and exploited, without any apreciation on all that's behind, something's wrong.

We see that in different moments from artists that suffer the consequences of these greedy profesionals that don't care about the artist, just about that sweet dolla, and their own reputation and ego.

In a world driven by this kind of behaviour. It's the own art's responsability to put an end to them.

I can clearly see the message Dan Gilroy was transmitting and I loved it and applaud him for it as an artist myself. Thank you.

PD: I read some people saying that the characters don't feel true. And oh my sweet summer children, stay in that place of ignorance, because those kind of people really exist in the "chic" art-exhibit and fashion world. And they are as obnoxious (OR EVEN MORE) as the ones portrayed so well by this great cast of actors.
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Interesting Premise, Uninteresting Movie
fpcholcomb3 February 2019
Simply put Velvet Buzzsaw is a mess. It lacks any genuine horror, comedy, or drama and feels cheap and schlocky, and not in the good b-movie horror way.

This one stung because when I first heard of this film I thought it was right up my alley. The faux intellectualism and aggressive monetization that surrounds the high art world is something worthy of parody, but this movie gets so lost in its message and meanders around several poorly written characters, essentially wasting its interesting premise on a below average, generically shot bit of schlock. It brings nothing to the table and fails to live up to the standards set by its contemporaries and even the directors past work.

The characters presented here are lacking in about every respect. One of the things that really excited me about this movie was the massive amount of talent it employed, but even a lively performance from the likes of Gyllenhaal could not mask the fact that the writing was just not up to snuff. What exposition and backstory we get on this miserable bunch of narcissistic artistes is sparse and told rather than shown through slow interactions within art galleries and avant garde offices. Perhaps it was an artistic choice to paint these characters who leech of the creative works of others as banal but it prevented me from ever getting invested in them. Thus, not only were the inevitable horror scenes that followed the character introductions were completely void of any proper scares or interesting creatures, but they also lacked any proper victims.

Moreover, the editing was choppy and scenes did not always flow logically from one to the other. There was a surprising lack of interesting camera angles or dark and brooding shots that could have been used to cultivate horror in the viewer (with the exception of a scene involving a gas station and monkeys). Velvet Buzzsaw's presentation lacked a certain definitiveness and style that the directors earlier work had possessed. It ends up looking rather uninspired. There was some aggressively unappealing use of green screen too, especially apparent during a waterfront chat between an agent and a up and coming street artist (I can't even remember there names they left so little an impression). The movie looks so fake and cheap, which I suppose in a way fit the character and dialogue quality.

Apart from its blatant ant-art profiteering message the movie seems to translate nothing effectively, and the overall weight of what it tries to say is diminished by its shortcomings. The actor's do what they can here, they are the only redeemable aspect of Velvet Buzzsaw, but an artist is only as good as his or her tools, and they were given very little to work with here.

Definitely Avoid.
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A horror movie without horror, protagonist and plot.
danielfiodorov1 February 2019
This is not a movie, because it does not move at all. Theres no protagonist, no plot. Literally! Theres only a setup of paintings killing people between looooooong and boring useless scenes.

Its perfectly describes itself with only good scene - a trash bags in the middle of empty room. And director seriously wants us to be that guy who is excited about that. Shame!

Im so confused - how the same person who made a "Nightcrawler" masterpiece could make such an empty fake? The answer is - its a contemporary art.
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Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining!
BestBenedikt1 February 2019
Dan Gilroy reunites with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo for his new Netflix cooperation VELVET BUZZSAW.

What saves this film, is the lead performance by Gyllenhaal, who plays art critic Morf Vandewalt and provides for lots of great quotes that had me grinning throughout the movie. In contrast to NIGHTCRAWLER's Louis Bloom though, his character here is written as a more naive and less calculating person.

Gilroy's new film definitely lacks the punch of NIGHTCRAWLER. While especially in the first half of the movie the execution of its core premise, exposing the hypocrisy of the artistic elite, ironically turns out to be mostly superficial, Gilroy basically plays with standard horror tropes in the second half. "No originality, no courage", Vandewalt would probably judge. Last year's THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT definitely had way more to say in that regard.

VELVET BUZZSAW is still a somewhat entertaining film from start to finish, even if it obviously struggles with its narrative at times and didn't turn out to be the masterpiece that NIGHTCRAWLER was.
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An interesting art-world satire with horror overtones and a stellar cast.
TheTopDawg2 February 2019
An interesting art-world satire with horror overtones and a stellar cast that performed great.

The directing was exceptionally good, with fantastic imagery and creative camera shots.

The concept of the story was well done, as were the S/VFX, but the writing was a little all over the place, choppy and too ambitious with its 113 min run time, although the pacing was decent.

A unique film with excellent performances. Would I recommend it? If you're the artsy type and enjoy horror film. Would I see it again? No.

It's a 7/10 from me.
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wow ...
kuesstdas1 February 2019
This movie is as bad as this review.

Do yourself a favor and stare at the air for 110 minutes instead of watching that snoozefest.
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Big setback and disappointment. Pretentious and self-righteous without being convincing.
philipposx-122901 February 2019
Dan Gilroys newest picture, and most importantly second collaboration with the fantastic Jake Gyllenhaal, "Velvet Buzzsaw" is every much as unsatisfying and confused as it appears to be shiny and unique.

The satirical pieces, which take extremely long to set up, never work with the upcoming horror events - and the scenes of terror never seem to fully work under the context of the satirical bits. We're left with a movie that pretends to be clever, intellectual and satirical on art, but displays nothing but a lack of every aspect mentioned above. There are quite some parallels between this and Inarritus "Birdman" (2014), in which the movie is neither convincing nor impressing to justify the flashy and dazzling tone and sense of narrative. It misses substance, thought and precision to back up its ambition.

For the most part though, Gyllenhaal is great, as one would easily expect. And I can not fully degrade the supporting cast who don't seem to be doing anything terribly wrong. It's just as if all the characters have no real purpose besides their bizarre looks and the way they speak. No character has a serious arc, which is sad in this type of movie where it could have easily be portrayed throughout a leitmotif and theme of art. Everything just flows and flows into nearly two hours of badly paced dialogue, horror scenes and stylish art.

I must admit that some of the paintings and visual art looked really nice. The cinematography, and the editing (which was also done by director Gilroy) is not bad too. There is actually one shot that I remembered liking quite a bit. We are thrown into a family watching TV, until the camera moves top to reveal they are actually mannequins in a studio. The problem ultimately is that it's half style, no substance. The style does not tell its own story, neither do the characters. The plot is never explained and essentially only exists by coincidence and chance. "Velvet Buzzsaw" never feels forced, because it simply hasn't got any constitution for the premise. That's in a certain way even worse than feeling forced.

Netflix hit out another pretentious, unconvincing, flashy and "empty" movie, whose only saving graces are Jake Gyllenhaal and the editing.

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Difficult to explain
thomasjay-522772 February 2019
The trailer in hindsight might've given away a lot of what happens in film but to truly get anything from it you must watch the film itself. A relatively short one at just under 1 hour 50 it manages to put a lot to the audience and develop a grand conspiracy which is actually quite interesting. Sadly a lot of it is glossed over completely after an initial introduction but it still manages to function as a film. A lot of the characters are well created and serve the greater purpose of narrative aid and building the commentary but a lot is fairly forgettable. An interesting message and core meaning it's a fairly decent film which is worth your time
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Acting is not enough
fmwongmd2 February 2019
Although Jake Gyllenhaal does a good job acting it isn't enough to rescue this uninteresting film.
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What a disappointment
cameronspencer942 February 2019
Oof... This movie is a hot mess. I was looking forward to this after seeing the trailer and having also really enjoyed Gilroy's first film Nightcrawler. But someone dropped the ball on this movie. And honestly, maybe it was the editor.

This movie was cheesy from beginning to end and maybe that was intentional but it surely wasn't executed properly. The characters are the worst (also clearly intentional) but never have a single redeeming moment to be honest. The only times I had fun watching this was for like 2 of the death scenes. The rest of the movie was a drag.
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Most disappointing movie of 2019
mattcxavier1 February 2019
Yes 2019 just started, but this movie is the most disappointing movie you will see all year. It tries to be a comedy. It tries to be a horror. It tries to be ironic and beautiful, but it does none of them well. It is a confusing mess. Cheap humor. Cheap horror. The story line has a lot of potential, but it is executed on terribly.
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Yes, just awful.
SteverB3 February 2019
It's getting three stars from me just for Jake Gyllenhaal and maybe Rene Russo. Malkovich phoned it in. The script was so formulaic I knew what was coming, when, and to who. With one or two minor cuts, this is about the caliber of a "Hallmark Movies & Mysteries" film; no offense to them. Did Gilroy spend all his "Nightcrawler" money and needed to pump something out? This film is ridiculous.
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Hot garage
spacegirlsunday3 February 2019
I wish I could give it negative stars. Superstar line up, money backing... Both good starters. Then they decided on the director and cast that Zawe lady and holy cow what a laughable mess of a "movie". I'm embarrassed for the accomplished actors that had to play along with her pathetic attempt at "acting". Could you be more pretentiously stupid? I think not. My God. The only reason it even played out at my house and long as it did was we were enjoying making fun of it. However, it doesn't even have the Tommy Wiseau level fun bad movie kinda vibe. It's so bad that making fun of it isn't even fun after a while. Cut your toe nails. Wash your hair. Pick the dead skin off your feet. These are all better options.
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Don't waste your time!
alex_4272 February 2019
The worst film you'll watch in 2019. Got sucked in by the great cast. Some of the worst "Horror" I've witnessed, completely unimaginative. I feel like Tori Spelling should have been in this....
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Maybe the biggest waste of time, money, and talent ever
lempkecoleton3 February 2019
I can't figure out how to describe how awful this is. As far as attempting to be entertaining I'm not sure anyone has ever failed more miserably. This was singlehandedly the biggest waste of time I've personally invested in watching a movie, and that's saying a lot given some of the movies I've seen. How many more Netflix Original flops can they put out before they stop trying? This was not exciting, it didn't keep you invested, it definitely wasn't scary, and I didn't give a hoot about a single character in the entire movie.

Velvet Buzzsaw attempts to create an in depth portrayal of modern art society where we're introduced to an intertwining web of characters who all share different relationships. Aside from their personal relationships they are tied together via their various business relationships in the art world as well. These relationships become more intertwined upon the discovery of an unknown artists work name Dease. Throughout the film a sinister supernatural attachment to the art begins to dispose of these characters who would seek to exploit this work for their own personal profit. In less words it can be described as the biggest snooze fest in recent history. About 30 minutes of the almost 2 hours of runtime serves any purpose aside from satirical stereotypes regarding people who make up these high end modern art communities. I'm by no mean offended by these stereotypes, rather bored to death by their monumental lack of substance. The death scenes aren't scary, there's no tension throughout the movie at all, and the story arc could be better described as a very, very shallow story plateau. The special effects look cheap, and ingenuine, and this doesn't help add any tension or fear to what's meant to be scary. And do I even need to mention the Goliath sized plot holes that have become a staple of Netflix Originals at this point?

The one thing this movie has is loads of talent, aside from Zawe Ashton who played Josephina. I could walk outside, throw a rock, and it would land next to someone who could do as well, if not better than Zawe. Aside from that, Jake Gyllenhaal, Renee Russo, Toni Collette, and even Natalie Dyer show just how well they can truly act. Even in a movie that fails to be any sort of good their talent manages to shine. It's a shame this talent was wasted on an utterly empty story. People who disagree with me will say I didn't understand, or couldn't appreciate the point the movie sought out to make. I understand this film seeks to illustrate that the reduction of art in this society to nickels and dimes ultimately hurts art as a whole, and in turn the people who committed this crime against Dease's work were hurt back. Frankly, I just don't care. If you want the audience to care about this point the film has to be powerful, gripping, or at the very least exciting. This movie is nothing but boring.

Save yourself two hours and pick something else on your watchlist. Take my word that you truly aren't missing anything with seeing. If you choose to ignore this advice I personally guarantee you'll contemplate turning it off before the 40 minute mark. If I didn't set out to make this review I would've turned it off on about 3 separate occasions. 3/10 stars for some truly brilliant acting talent.
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np457642 February 2019
That's nearly two hours of my life I will never get back. Find it incredibly hard to believe it's managed to get a 6 star rating. It's only a couple of weeks into 2019 and it's definitely topping the list of the worst movie of the year, and will no doubt remain in top spot for the duration.
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Not All Art is Mona Lisa....
varun-250719971 February 2019
Dan Gilroy's critique of the commercialization of art work mixes satire with spirits and delivers one of the best horror films of our time. This film doesn't play safe with you and doesn't compromise one bit, not even in the shocking third act. The cast of talented workers all deliver very fine performances and Jake Gyllenhaal proves he is capable of impressing us in any given role. Robert Elswit's cinematography is the biggest highlight of the film and it challenges his best work "There Will Be Blood". This film shows you how good a film can get if the costumes are delightful.

Velvet Buzzsaw tells us about the working of the art world and how different kinds of people profit from selling the art to some bored billionaires. The basic notion Gilroy wants to say is art shouldn't be valued by money and what happens when you don't honor the artist's work. I don't want to reveal the main details of the plot because its better if you see this film knowing very little of it.

Its true that sometimes people who are too involved in their work becomes insufferable like Jake Gyllenhaal in this film. With the right amount of gore and thrills, the perfect balance between scream and shock the film's horror scenes work out. Netflix seems to be getting better and better every year even though the wrong movies (ie. Bird Box) grab all the attention. Even though I would have loved to see this in theater, from the commercial point of view releasing in Netflix was the correct decision to grab the attention of a wider audience.
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Another trailer that over promises.
sambennett1984-584-7699787 February 2019
The trailer to this made it look so good. It didn't turn out that way. The film is boring. The best bits of the film are in the trailer. Don't bother.
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Just disappointed
patrick-cesaro1 February 2019
Ok, i'm quite disappointed... There are a few good things here and there but the overall experience is quite bad... I'm giving a 6/10 just because the acting was ok and there was some good shots, but it's sooo close to being a 5/10.
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Painfully meh.
whovian-727331 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Velvet Buzzsaw is, unfortunately, painfully dull. Not bad, but dull. The trailer made it out to be a tense, artsy horror and a must watch, with an intriguing premise which felt fresh. But, simply put, it wasn't tense enough to be thrilling, funny or dark enough to be comical, or scary enough to be a horror - genuine scares were too few and too far between. The ending is also very rushed, as Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo and Zawe Ashton's characters are killed in the final ten minutes, Natalia Dyer's character (who is basically there to scream) moves back to Michigan, and John Malkovich's character is an afterthought in the credits, and this is all after a slow hour and a half build up. Also, Toni Collette and John Malkovich are severly underused in their parts. However, all of the cast are exceptional in their roles - in particular Jake Gyllenhaal, who hams it up just perfectly, and what scary scenes there were in the film were good - you'll keep looking at the paintings to see if they move. Also, Gyllenhaal's death scene is one of the tensest scenes in the film, as is Collette's. Russo is also good in her part, although it seens like some sort of plot thread didn't make it into the final cut as it is revealed that one of the paintings resembles the position she's sat in. All in all, this film is quite disappointing, but the performances are good enough to keep your attention.
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One of the worst movies I've seen in a while
cushioncapitalcorp3 February 2019
I'll keep it simple. This movie was too talk, the super natural elements were barely explained and made little sense. The death scenes were un-original as hell. The pacing was way off, the ending barely made sense unless you want to really look into it. I wouldn't bother with spoilers because it's not worth the time writing about particularly. It must have been one of those movies a big budget studio deemed to trash to put in theaters so Netflix swooped it up for cheap. Sucks too because there are some good actors in there. It's just the whole thing was a Trainwreck. "C'mon I invested this much time into it let's just finish it" - my girlfriend. I was ready to close it out at the hour and 20 minute mark, then again with 9 minutes to go. The only thing I can say is that was 2 hours of my life I will never get back.
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