Movie review: (untitled)

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The movie (untitled) mocks everything you love to hate about contemporary art and how it’s marketed. The movie also pokes fun at the pretensions in the atonal music scene (one of my fave lines–melody “is a capitalist plot to sell pianos.”

Adam Goldberg, who plays a composer of pretentious noise music, standing in front of a Christopher Wool parody in the movie (untitled).
Adam Goldberg, who plays a composer of pretentious noise music, standing in front of a Christopher Wool parody in the movie (untitled).

Murray and I probably would never have gone to see it, but our friends Wendy and David, who love comedies, checked out the trailer online and thought it might be fun.

It was–at least for Wendy and me. We laughed out loud as all sorts of contemporary art got skewered, from Chapman brothers’ little boys with penises growing out of their heads to Donald Judd stacked boxes on the wall to Damien Hirst carcasses (a stuffed cow falls on the artist, killing him).

At the other extreme, intellectually flabby easy-viewing paintings sell like hotcakes to hotels–they are hidden in the gallerist’s backroom, the secret part of her business that supports the avant garde work she prefers to exhibit.

Marley Shelton, as the gallery owner, in front of some taxidermy art.
Marley Shelton, as the gallery owner, in front of some taxidermy art.

Marley Shelton’s performance as the gallerist is the high point of the movie. She is superb, utterly believable, and so are her hot-art-bitch clothes, her multiple fashion-coordinated eyeglasses, her sales pitches and her extemporaneous descriptions of the art! She somehow balances the hard-edged opportunism with madcap charm.

Another high point of the movie is the sound track, which focuses on all sorts of ambient noise, a nice comic counterpoint to the avant garde music. Even Shelton’s outfits rattle and squeak, contributing to the movie soundscape.

A performance of the avant garde music.
A performance of the avant garde music.

I know I mentioned that Wendy and I laughed often and loudly. However, we were the only ones in the theater laughing aloud. If others were amused, they kept it to themselves. So maybe this movie isn’t for everybody. But I do think if you’re a reader of artblog, this movie is for you.

Ultimately, some of the twists in the plot are predictable–who hooks up with whom, sibling rivalry resolution, etc. But anyone who has cast a jaundiced eye on some of the excesses of the art biz will love this movie. So go see it once the turkey has settled and you emerge from your tryptophan stupor.

The movie is playing at the Ritz at the Bourse.

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