Velvet Buzzsaw

Before Velvet Buzzsaw, Dan Gilroy has directed only two movies, and he is the writer of both of those films. The first one was Nightcrawler, a genius film and clearly one of the best of the year. It is haunting, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances of his life.

The second one was Roman J. Israel, Esq., which people like to ignore. I mean, Denzel Washington was nominated for acting from it, but it didn’t have Gyleenhaal so no one cared. It was not was well received as his first film.

This brings us back to Velvet Buzzsaw, which Gilroy again wrote and directed on his own. And because it is more horror based and has Gyllenhaal in it, people were notably excited and declared it would be just as good as Nightcrawler! Being released on Netflix isn’t an issue, because Netflix movies can be good!

People like to hype, I guess I am saying.

Art
Nothing scarier than hearing I would have to analyze and judge pieces of art.

It is really hard to pick a main character to really talk about in this movie, but they want us to focus on Gyllenhaal with advertising, so I will. Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal), probably a fake name, is an art critic in LA, one of the most famous and prestigious. He does fine work, people like him, he knows how to describe things like any elitist art man.

One of the galleries he tends to review at has a young fledgling art dealer, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who is having a stressful time in life. To top it all off, some man dies in her apartment, she finds the body, it makes her late for work and she is demoted. After finding out that all of his items are to be destroyed per his wishes, she checks on his cat and finds hundreds to thousands of pieces of art, all originals, all haunting and powerful.

This? This could be her chance. You know, to deceive some people, act like it is her client, sell his art, get big in the community. Everyone is instantly amazed by the art, including her boss (Rene Russo), they want in on the action, want a piece of that huge jackpot of money they are about to create.

But as soon as more research goes into the now deceased artist, they find he had a troubled past, and has a good reason to have wanted all of the artwork to be destroyed.

Also starring Billy Magnussen, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, and Tom Sturridge.

STare
Everyone uses the same Gyllenhaal staring picture in their reviews,
I WANT A DIFFERENT ONE OKAY?

Velvet Buzzsaw, both the title, and the premise, is one that is able to draw you in slowly. It is set in a world that most of us are not a part of, dealing, making, selling art and making it a focal point of their lives. The rich, the elite. And that makes it a good film to have people die in.

Too many horror films are killing off our teenagers at record numbers. What about these rich people? The snobby elites? Why not watch them die in creative art fueled ways?

The concept is fine, but it definitely lacks the creep factor. It doesn’t seem to fully embrace the thoughts of horrors, and instead we get a strange drama/horror hybrid, where enough people definitely die, but never in ways that really seem exciting to talk about. The final death was a bit wicked, but other than that, it is mostly generic crazy death things.

It would be more memorable if it just went harder in the genre, but this movie plays it safe. We don’t have enough horrors set in museums, which are clearly some of the creepiest places to be. This adds to the list, but doesn’t top that list.

2 out of 4.

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is everyone’s favorite X-Men, right? I mean, after Wolverine, Deadpool, Magneto, Cable, Bishop, The Phoenix, Gambit, Professor X, 1990s Cartoon Rogue, Longshot, Iceman, The Juggernaut, Apocalypse, and that pterodactyl dude, right?

Just kidding. Nightcrawler is pretty cool up there. Transporting around, being all blue and sneaky and shit. Give him a dagger and he is better than any thief in any roleplaying game. So it is about time Fox branched out on its solo movies, away from their Wolverine jerk fest,

Wait, what? It isn’t an X-Men movie? But that would mean we only got sweet Nightcrawler action in X2, and I am super tired of that movie (too much Wolverine Origin story).

Apparently Nightcrawler (outside of worm teminology), can also describe someone who usually is more social and comes out at night. Ah okay. So maybe a movie about a well liked party animal.

Camera
“Wrong again, fuckface!” – Nightcrawler director

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a dirty rotten scoundrel. Or at least he seems that way, when he beats up a security guard (steals his watch) and steals some material to sell under the table for spare parts. Dude is just trying to get by and make a living. Something is clearly off about him. Kind of scrawny. Talks in a funny way. Always looking at people with those deep eyes, rarely blinking.

No one wants to hire a thief either, so he tends to work on his own, at whatever he does, doing some internet researching and jumping head first into his tasks.

So, when he sees a car crash, he is surprised to find a news crew really quickly on the scene. Apparently these guys just listen to police scanners, try to get great footage of crime, either in progress or with people hurt, and sell it to news stations for some quick cash. After all, these news stations want to have the most exclusive footage and first to get the better ratings!

Sounds cool. Louis should get into that business. Just needs a camera, a police scanner, and an ability to haggle just how hard could it be? Anyone can do it, right? Even that dude from American Psycho could pull it off. Also starring Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, and Riz Ahmed.

Face
I will admit I only said that because of the resemblance in the picture, despite the fact that I still haven’t seen it (shh).

Trust me, this is one of those shitty reviews where I describe the plot in a terrible, vague way. That is just because I need filler and don’t want to really spoil anything that happens.

Nightcrawler is that good. I went in knowing close to nothing and boy was I surprised in so many ways imaginable. I heard that Jake was supposed to be the second prince in Into the Woods with Chris Pine, but had to cancel because he was doing this movie. That made me upset. I want to see Jake singing in agony, damn it!

But I am incredibly happy, in retrospect, that he went the Nightcrawler route instead. Gyllenhaal dropped over 30 pounds for this role, making himself a creepy skinny dude with big bulging eyes. Nothing like his ripped Prince of Persia self. BUT HE WAS SO GOOD IN THIS ROLE.

Shit. I thought this would be a lame drama. But it was captivating, tense, somewhat scary, good, and it didn’t go the ways I thought it would. Louis Bloom is a despicable character and creation, but I want to see him do a lot of things. I don’t want a sequel, that’d be weird. But maybe just side stories or something. I think I am just describing shitty fanfiction. Bloom is probably the best bad guy of 2014. And honestly, I feel like this film came completely out of nowhere.

Nightcrawler is just continuing the trend of great Gyllenhaal movies coming out. I feel like the only reason he has a bad rap at all is due to Bubble Boy, which is silly, because Bubble Boy rocks.

4 out of 4.

Thor: The Dark World

I have a confession to make. I really really enjoyed the first Thor movie. I enjoyed it far more than everyone else I know.

It gets a lot of negative attention compared to the other Phase 1 Marvel films, and personally I disagree. I enjoyed it probably the third most out of all of the films, after The Avengers and Iron Man. It had comedy, it had action, it had Norse mythology, and well, it had Thor. Like a lot of people my age, I first heard about the God of Thunder from watching Adventures in Babysitting, which lead to discovering the Marvel version. I think that film was received as well only because he wasn’t as well known as the rest of the Phase 1 heroes.

So, Thor: The Dark World has an upward battle to climb.

lOVERS
“But we will make that climb, together, brother!” – Loki, in a very specific genre of Thor fanfiction.

This film takes place just as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is proving why he deserves the “Mighty” adjective, by bringing peace again to The Nine Realms after the Bifröst was destroyed in the first film. He has been very busy, and could not return to Earth except for exceptional circumstances for that reason.

Unfortunately the Convergence is about to occur, where the nine realms line up perfectly. It happens every 5000 years, and causes all of the realms to be a bit wonky, creating portals to each other and messing with gravity/physics. It has also awakened an old threat, King Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) of the Dark Elves, who tried to destroy the universe at the last Convergence. He used an ancient magic source called the Aether, which has been hidden for thousands of years. But guess who found it? Oh that meddling Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team (Kat Dennings, Jonathan Howard)!

At the same time, monarchy based drama in Asgard is occurring, as Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Frigga (Rene Russo) are planning on making Thor the next king, given the recent actions of Loki (Tom Hiddleston). But Thor’s love for a mortal is worrisome, and a cause for concern that he might be focusing too much of his attention on just one realm.

It isn’t too bad for Thor I guess. He just has to save his very fragile love from the powers of the Aether, watch out for Loki while he is imprisoned in Asgard, deal with potential enemies on all sides, and try to stop an ancient race from destroying the universe. Probably just another Wednesday for him.

Thor: The Dark World features a whole lot of other actors, including the returns of Sif (Jaime Alexander), Heimdall (Idris Elba), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and The Warriors Three (Ray StevensonZachary LeviTadanobu Asano). Well, Asano really wasn’t in this movie much, and Levi replaced Josh Dallas, but hey, Stevenson is still there! Also introducing Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the second in command to Malekith.

Puddies?
Also, the Dark Elves in general reminded me of really strange Putties.

One thing I learned from watching Thor: The Dark World is that Chris Hemsworth definitely helped cement himself as the only man who can play the God of Thunder. Over the summer, huge contract negotiations were taking place between Hemsworth and Marvel, the latter who claimed that they don’t need him in The Avengers 2:Age of Ultron, they could just hire someone else, and refused to budge. Well, eventually they budged, thanks to the help of Robert Downey Jr., so presumably both sides reached a worthwhile agreement.

Thor: The Dark World more or less gave me everything I wanted in a sequel movie, expanding on a lot of areas that the first film established. It still has the same level of comedy, so we aren’t just dealing with a serious space fantasy drama. The chemistry between Hemsworth, Portman, and Hiddleston is electric, allowing the story to flow just a little bit better. The film also takes place a lot more off Earth compared to the first film, allowing the use of new landscapes and helping separate the franchise from the rest of the Avengers movies.

The does come with a downside, however. With a lot of the film set off world, we are given many more scenes that are heavily CGI’d in order to create the scene, which gets tiresome after awhile. I’d like more of it to be grounded in areas that aren’t created by green screens.

My biggest issue from the film actually has to do with the editing. I found the scene transitions really distracting, as on more than one occasion it felt like we were cut far too quickly to another scene, almost cutting off lines by the characters. We weren’t always allowed the appropriate time to even acknowledge what was just said, before having to focus our attention elsewhere. It made the pace of the film seem a bit off to me, and not what I would expect from a film at this scale.

Most likely Thor: The Dark World won’t get anywhere as close to touching the amount of money that Iron Man 3 brought in. I hope that doesn’t detract Marvel Studios from eventually bringing us more Thor outside of The Avengers.

This film had an excellent amount of drama, action, and comedy to help create a fantastic theater experience, but has some technical aspects that distract me from giving it that perfect rating overall.

 

3 out of 4.