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We Need To Talk About Artful Films

Zawe Ashton and Jake Gyllenhaal in Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

We need to talk about Dan Gilroy’s fresh-off-the-day art world satire Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) for Netflix, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Colette, Rene Russo and John Malkovich, but only for a brief moment. The film in many ways is a trainwreck and in light of prior expectations a bit too heavy on the parodic side of things (a comedic merger between Jim Carrey’s Mask (1994) and Robert Altman’s Shortcuts (1993) and Prét-à-porter (1994), served with a mix and great whiff of the over-the-topness of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016's Neon Demon), and much less the brooding and more desired direction of Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals (2016). It nevertheless poignantly delivers a few priceless and scathing scenes making the two hours worth your while. Notions of art being channeled in film and TV in whatever brief way always probes an interest an curiosity for us. Much comes to mind on an instant note, whether John Hughes’ paraphrasing Godard’s Jules & Jim (1962) in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off (1985) or Woody Allen hitting on a suicidal girl in Play it Again Sam (1972) while looking at art, or the gallery stints of popular television characters like Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) as a gallerist in Sex and The City (1998-2004) or Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams) as a gallery assistant in Girls (2012-2017). Not to forget of course in the great midst biopics about artists directed by Julian Schnabel or actors like Ed Harris and Salma Hayek in the lead roles as iconic visual artists, and most recently Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund's celebrated The Square (2017) which even put our favourite Swedish gallerist Marina Schiptjenko in front of the camera alongside cameos by local art scene fixtures. We figured however we would list and share a few of our favourite and arguably much less obvious moments in films that brush on contemporary art and the profession of art, by spotlighting a preference for independent filmmaking and cult cinema. Without further ado and any inherent order;

6. Art School Confidential (2006), directed by Terry Zwigoff

Starring: Angelica Huston, Jim Broadbent and John Malkovich

5. High Art (1998), directed by Lisa Cholodenko Starring: Ally Sheedy and Radha Mitchell

4. Junebug (2005), directed by Phil Morrisson Starring Embethz Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Amy Adams

Bonus and additional love: Music by Yo La Tengo

3. 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), directed by Adrian Lynne Starring: Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger

2. An Unmarried Woman (1978), directed by Paul Mazursky Starring: Jill Clayburgh and Alan Bates

1. Tiny Furniture (2010), directed by Lena Dunham

Starring: Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke and Laurie Simmons Bonus love: Every scene with Laurie Simmons as the artist mother

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