A few years ago, Dan Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rene Russo excited film viewers everywhere when they collaborated on Nightcrawler, a portrait of a psychologically damaged man who proves to be quite adept at playing the media game. The combination of Gillroy’s atmospheric direction and satirical script with Gyllenhaal’s wonderfully unhinged lead performance made for an incendiary and prophetic film. Just why exactly Nightcrawler was totally snubbed by the Academy continues to be one of the most perplexing mysteries in recent Oscar history. Despite strong support from the critics, not even Gyllenhaal picked up a nomination.
Dan Gilroy followed Nightcrawler up with Roman Israel, Esq., which was as forgettable as Nightcrawler was memorable but which still managed to accomplish what Nightcrawler didn’t. It received an Oscar nomination for its leading man. One gets the feeling that nomination had more to do with Denzel Washington’s reputation for award-worthy work than for anything that actually happened in the movie. Gyllenhaal went on to give award-worthy performances in films like Southpaw and Stronger but the Academy has continued to snub him. As for Russo, she’s only appeared in three films post-Nightcrawler and none of them were worthy of her talents.
Well, this year, Gyllenhaal, Russo, Gilroy, and Nightcrawler‘s cinematographer, Robert Elswit, have reunited for Velvet Buzzsaw! That’s right, they’ve got the band together again! The film appears to be a mix of horror film and an art world satire. As the film’s plot description puts it: After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art. The trailer would seem to suggest that paintings themselves are coming to life to enact revenge on sell-outs, everywhere. The idea of haunted paintings has been explored by everyone from Oscar Wilde to H.P. Lovecraft to Lucio Fulci and I look forward to seeing what type of spin Gilroy puts on it.
Along with Russo and Gyllenhaal, this film also features John Malkovich. Honestly, I don’t think you can do an art world satire without finding a role for Malkovich. Much as how Bill Paxton simply belonged in Nightcrawler, it seems that Malkovich would just belong in Velvet Buzzsaw.
Velvet Buzzsaw will be playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and it will be officially released by Netflix on February 1st! I get the feeling that we’re either going to love it or we’re going to hate it. I don’t think there’s going to be much in-between.
Check out the trailer below!